Mizzou football: Run, pass, Drinkwitz has shown he’ll do what works
Todd Grantham, meet Eli Drinkwitz and the Missouri Tigers.
Florida’s defensive coordinator has had a rough go of it this season, as his Gators rank 13th in the SEC in scoring, allowing 33 points per game. And due to the coronavirus, they haven’t played since Oct. 10.
Rust? Yeah, there might be some on Florida’s side.
That won’t be the case for Mizzou, which is riding high with a 2-game winning streak and just knocked off a Kentucky team last week that many thought would roll out of Columbia with another dominating rushing attack. As we all know, that didn’t happen. The Tigers stood tall on defense and Larry Rountree III — now the No. 3 leading rusher in Mizzou history — carried the ball 37 times for 126 punishing yards and 2 touchdowns.
Will Mizzou spoil Florida’s lofty goals for this season with an upset win Saturday? Drinkwitz’s offense has shown it can win games different ways.
Against LSU, quarterback Connor Bazelak completed 29-of-34 passes for 406 yards and 4 touchdowns while completing a pass to 8 receivers. That’s an 85% completion percentage, folks. Those weren’t just swing passes and short throws, either, Bazelak was tossing the ball down the field.
Florida’s pass defense is 13th in the SEC (331 yards per game) and in its last outing against Texas A&M, Kellen Mond threw for 338 yards and 3 TDs. If Mond, who isn’t viewed as one of the SEC’s elite passers, can hurt the Gators through the air, odds are Bazelak can, too.
While the passing game had success against LSU, Bazelak took a back seat to Rountree and the offensive line against Kentucky and let the run game go to work.
Mizzou rushed for 220 yards in its 20-10 win. Sure, the Tigers’ defense had a lot to do with it — linebacker Nick Bolton was the SEC’s defensive player of the week and was a man in the tackle box — but Drinkwitz showed he was willing to keep rolling with what was working to win the game. He didn’t get cute or fancy. He kept feeding the rock to Rountree, and it worked.
Florida’s rush defense ranks 10th in the SEC at 164 yards per contest. After respectable showings against Ole Miss and South Carolina, the Gators gave up 205 yards on the ground to the Aggies.
So which will it be? Through the air, ground and pound or both?
Considering what Mizzou’s defense will be going up against — the ultra-productive Kyle Trask-to-Kyle Pitts connection and the dangerous Kadarius Toney — maybe it’d be wise to keep the Gators’ offense off the field as much as possible.
Would a ball-control attack work the best, meaning a steady dose of Rountree and Tyler Badie runs while leaning on an O-line that includes the SEC’s offensive lineman of the week, right guard Case Cook?
Whatever Drinkwitz chooses, Mizzou’s offense has shown it can be successful with both this season.