1. So, Mizzou finally departed from Barry Odom and scooped up Eli Drinkwitz from Appalachian State. This figures to be a good hire for the Tigers, but what do you think the expectations are for this team this year and the program going forward?
Andrew Spanel: Realistically, the expectations shouldn’t be too high for the Tigers this season. It’s a tough schedule with six ranked opponents, so they’re probably hoping for victories against Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Mississippi State.
Missouri got rid of Barry Odom after several okay seasons in favor of Drinkwitz after only one year at Appalachian State. It felt like a bit of a panic hire after other SEC West schools had already begun to make moves. Odom was a fine coach, but Missouri had settled in the bottom half of the East. Mediocre is just not good enough in the SEC.
Like other teams with new head coaches, the biggest challenge for Drinkwitz in his first year will be to get his offensive scheme going. Missouri was surprisingly bad on offense last year, so if they can show some early flashes, maybe they can someday compete in a division that, outside of Georgia and Florida, remains pretty wide open to anybody. Perhaps this opportunity is the reason why Mizzou made an aggressive hire.
Zach Remelius: This year I wouldn’t expect much from the Tigers in the win column. A new QB under a new coach and system with all that has gone on this year is not a recipe for success. What Mizzou fans should hope for this year of glimpses of what it is to come under Drinkwitz and Drink avoiding some problems we saw under Odom. Namely undisciplined penalties and clock management. With their schedule if Mizzou goes 4-6 be very excited for 2021.
I personally liked the hire of Drinkwitz. At a place like Mizzou you aren’t going to hire the cream of the crop in the coaching carousel. So you have two options. Play it safe and hire a guy like Skip Holtz (who was rumored) and limit your ceiling but raise your floor. Or go for an unproven hire like Drinkwitz who could bring Mizzou back or crash and burn but always give me the aggressive hire. Some fans I know are worried he would leave with success. However if he gets a bigger job it means he did a damn fine job at Mizzou and makes the next job search easier
Speaking of the future at the moment it seems bright for the Tigers. Every new coach has a recruiting spike but Mizzou has never seen anything like this. Locking up state borders has been part of the plan and for the most part Drinkwitz has accomplished that. His ties in North Carolina and the surrounding areas don’t hurt either. Off the field he has said and done all the right things to endure himself to most of Mizzou fans. Now we see this season if he can actually coach and if he can take Mizzou back to the level or above what it was with Pinkel.
2. Shawn Robinson, TCU transfer, is set to be under center. The Tigers lost Albert Okwuegbunam, but return a pretty experienced receiving corp. How do you see Robinson faring as Mizzou’s QB?
Andrew Spanel: I’m kinda worried. There are a lot of questions. Robinson is a transfer from TCU where he played for half a season in 2018 before sitting out all of last year. He hasn’t thrown a football in a game for 23 months. From what we do know about him, I’ll defer to our friends over at Rock M Nation who characterize him as “Big arm, inaccurate, decent run threat.” Still, he has a new coach, a reworked offensive line, and a backup who will breathe down his neck in Connor Bazelak. Robinson is going to need help from his receivers and running back Larry Rountree.
Zach Remelius: No idea what to expect from Robinson. Under a new coach and system with limited practice and a couple of weapons who have transferred in he could struggle. He has a lot of talent and could outperform my best expectations which is he ends up as a middle of the road SEC QB.
3. Larry Rountree III: O/U 800 yards this season?
Andrew Spanel: Well, he ran for 829 last year, and that was a step back after running for over 1200 the year before. However, this is a 10 game all-SEC schedule this season. I’m taking the under.
Zach Remelius: Under, with that schedule, only ten games and Tyler Badie getting a lot of reps Rountree’s massive 2018 is going to seem like an anomaly.
4. Mizzou’s pass defense was pretty great last season, ranking highly in a lot of statistical categories. Do you see that trend continuing in 2020? Or do they peel back a bit this year?
Andrew Spanel: I think it’ll be pretty close to what we’ve seen statistically. Missouri returns the majority of their talent on D, and just as important is that defensive coordinator Ryan Walters was retained by Drinkwitz during the coaching transition. That said, we’ll see how much of a difference Barry Odom made now that Walters is running the show on that side of the ball.
Zach Remelius: Like Andrew I’m expecting more or less the same from Ryan Walters defense. A little more pressure from the defensive line would be nice to help that secondary but it is the best unit with Nick Bolton being the best player at linebacker.
5. What is your prediction for the Tigers in 2020?
Andrew Spanel: 2-8
Zach Remelius: 3-7