Missouri Tigers Football Team – 5 Keys to Finishing Above .500

While we’re just weeks away from the first kickoff of 2022 at Columbia, Missouri’s Truman Field, we’re a far cry from the 2014 Missouri Tigers football team that won 10 games in one season. which culminated in the SEC Championship Game which saw the Tigers fight [fill in the blank team] for the title of the conference. Coming out of one of their best recruiting classes yet, it’s a good program that has the potential to be great. Although the SEC is a tough conference to be great at, because you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. For Mizzou, even losing to perennial powerhouses Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Florida, but being competitive is almost as good as winning. Showing potential recruits that Mizzou belongs in the SEC is a big step toward gaining momentum every year.

The Tigers have beaten bad teams since entering the SEC. In 2022, the Missouri Tigers will need to continue to be good against bad teams to secure a winning season. It’s a requirement to get to .500. Finishing with more wins than losses may not mean much for some programs, but for this rebuilding Missouri team, it would be something that hasn’t been accomplished since the departure of coach Gary Pinkel. As treacherous as the SEC can be, the Tigers can navigate the 2022 schedule to the tune of eight wins if certain things go right.

Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz looks on during Tigers preseason camp practice at Kadlec Athletic Fields on August 7, 2022.
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1) Coach Eli Drinkwitz needs complete buy-in from the offensive unit, which starts with a commitment to a player at quarterback. Brady Cook was impressive in the Texas Bowl against Army in a losing effort with 27 for 34 and completing 79% of his passes. Tyler Macon has seen limited three-game action in 2021 and will be an attractive option in 2022. Drinkwitz will have to allow whoever is chosen at QB to fail. Connor Bazelak’s consistent but average play has been effective, but after a lackluster 2021 and a Texas Bowl miss in favor of Brady Cook, he was traded to Indiana. After the Texas Bowl, many assumed Brady Cook would lose the quarterback job if Jack Abraham didn’t trade to Mizzou, but he did. Jack Abraham spent three stellar years at Southern Miss and is the most experienced of the bunch. Jack Abraham should be the starter. Four-star rookie Sam Horn will have plenty of time to shine later. Barring injury to the others, I wouldn’t expect much from Horn in 2022. Whoever’s under center Eli Drinkwitz has to ride them until the wheels drop. A firm commitment is important for the success of the team and the comfort level of the attack. The team needs a leader on the pitch more than ever this season.

2) A safe and genuine commitment to the racing game. You can’t dip your toe here. With an unproven passing game and above-average running game, it’s how the Tigers beat bad teams, win against fringe teams, and compete against great teams. Mizzou won’t beat Florida, Auburn or Georgia, but Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas can be beaten. The Tigers will win by trusting the most stable piece of the team – the offensive line and the running back core. The Tigers return most of the offensive line which was a bright spot in 2021. The health of the line is paramount to the success of the team. The Tigers don’t offer a solid defense; thus, scoring is a requirement. The running game will proceed as the offensive line does.

3) The stars must shine, and none are bigger than wide receiver Luther Burden. Luther is the truth, not lies. It’s a huge pressure for a freshman on the big stage, but he’s up for the challenge. Burden won’t have to wait for an opportunity to contribute. Coach Drinkwitz will immediately insert him into the line-up. Few players can impact the game as we expect from Luther Burden this season. Drinkwitz is ready to do anything to give him the ball. Concerned about a winning season, he will use all the weapons at his disposal. Burden is the best weapon in the Tiger holster.

4) The defense must be good against teams that Missouri is not supposed to beat. The defense will gain momentum, even in defeats. Not allowing big teams to hang more than 40 points is a win in many ways. The defense has improved a lot year after year. Thanks to transfers and some returning players, the Tigers will be a better defensive team. That might not be saying much, as they were nearly the worst defensive team in the SEC last year, but the Tigers will be much better on that side of the ball. The team will improve against the pass. The Tigers were nicked last season on the pitch so it won’t be difficult to be better, but they will be much better. This is the biggest area for improvement. Transfers Joseph Charleston and Ty’Ron Hopper add to a returning core that will help solidify the Mizzou defense.

5) Home games against Arkansas and Kentucky will decide if the Tigers can beat the .500 mark. The Tigers welcome both teams late in the season, allowing time to work things out and commit to a process and a designated offensive unit. This team wouldn’t meet Alabama or Georgia standards, but don’t get me wrong, this is a good Missouri team, especially offensively. Mizzou is expected to start the season 3-0. The toughest test comes early against Kansas State on the road. They will then have a brutal streak with back-to-back matchups against Auburn, Georgia and Florida. It’s unlikely, but if they get a win from any of these three teams, they’ll win better than the losing season. Otherwise, they’ll have to beat Arkansas, Kentucky, or both.

Won : Louisiana Tech, Kansas State, Abilene Christian, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Mexico State, Arkansas

Losses: Auburn, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina

Registration: 8-4

About Betty J. Snyder

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