Heading into the second week game against Kansas State, the Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz seems to be a bit more serious. The Tigers (1-0) handled their home business in the 52-24 win over Louisiana Tech, but Drinkwitz and company know the team they faced last week is a far cry from the one they’ll get then in terms of style and talent. Although there were things to fix in all three phases of the game, Drinkwitz was happy with the outcome and how the outcome turned out (for the most part).
Something that didn’t directly impact the team on the pitch physically but mentally was the fans and Drinkwitz took notice, especially in the student section. For a few seasons, fan attendance has been up and down, but the crowd of more than 47,000 that showed up Thursday night was a great start, as Missouri looks to try and get more fans invested. (for the whole season) in the football programme.
“(I) was happy with the result of the match. Obviously to win at home 一 I appreciate the student section. I appreciate the sports administration for moving to Thursday night,” Drinkwitz said. all the accommodations they needed, but really appreciate the students who showed up and created a good vibe and a good time, and really enjoyed the win.”
It will take just over a week a win over an outclassed opponent to bring Faurot Field to full capacity (62,621), but the blowout victory in week one is a start.
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Drinkwitz and Baker praise two big Wildcats stars
Drinkwitz praised Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn and defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah. Both players were named to the All-Big 12 preseason squad after impressive 2021 seasons.
The 5-foot-6, 173-pound Vaughn recorded 1,404 yards and 14 touchdowns on 235 carries. He also caught 49 passes for 468 yards and four touchdowns.
Drinkwitz compared Vaughn to Tyler Badie and his low center of gravity isn’t what the Missouri coach is worried about. It’s Vaughn’s dynamism that worries.
“You know, I don’t think he’s gotten that small again, he reminds me a lot of Tyler Badie, and so these guys have seen that back style before. So I’m not concerned about that,” said Drinkwitz: “What interests me the most is his talent. His vision, his speed, his tenacity, his ability to read their diagram, that duet diagram, has put people in blocks. If a lineman defensive has its eyes in the wrong space, he’ll expose it, if they get out of their gap, he’ll expose it.
defensive coordinator Blake Baker said similar things about Vaughn and that Vaughn turns something into nothing all the time. He also said the defense needs to learn concepts when playing against a team that plays across multiple sets of personnel in order to contain Kansas State’s offense.
“They are doing a good job. They are multiple in their personnel and multiple in their formations. They are multiple on their training within this staff. So they present some challenges that way,” Baker said. “The only thing about them is they’re going to show us something that we haven’t seen from a training perspective or from a game or a combination of both.
“So we have to learn concepts, that’s what I’m really trying to achieve and ultimately we have to understand what our rules are and apply those rules on the pitch.”
Anudike-Uzomah was the 2021 Big-12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year after recording 52 tackles (37 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. In week eight of last season against TCU, Anudike-Uzomah was credited with six sacks, which would have tied an NCAA record, before it was lowered to four sacks after two of the fumbles occurred during of those plays have crossed the line of scrimmage. and resulted in these games being counted as rushes.
Drinkwitz went so far as to say that Anudike-Uzomah is already worthy of being a first-round pick, and that attacking tackles Javon Foster and Zeke Powell will have to be ready to play hard on every snap for the duration of the game if they want to limit disruption from Anudike-Uzomah.
“Felix (Anudike-Uzomah) is a terrific talent who can rush, adapt 一 plays extremely hard,” Drinkwitz said. “No reason not to think he’s an NFL first-round talent in the defensive position. … They’re going to have to trust their technique, and they’re going to have to play hard for four quarters. Any kind of play will result a large-scale negative play against him.
The defensive theme of the week is the gap mentality
Last season, Missouri was the 124th-best rush defense in the nation.
This season, Missouri is the No. 1 running defense in the nation. It’s true. If you add in some context, you realize they beat a team that got too much credit for how strong they played last season under a different coach with a different staff at Louisiana Tech.
So that doesn’t do much to let the Tigers and their fans know whether the run defense is really fixed or just better against an overmatched opponent. Missouri should know a little more against Vaughn and motive Adrian Martinez.
It looks like the defensive theme of the week is gap discipline. This means that the front seven (mainly the defensive linemen) are responsible for plugging certain holes and making plays from those holes. Poor spread integrity is what led to infractions all over the Tigers last year. It’s much more important against the Kansas State offensive line, which Drinkwitz and Baker say is the best positional group in the Wildcats offense.
Kansas State Left Guard Cooper Bee is a preseason All-American and was the Wildcats’ sixth-best offensive lineman who played 15+ snaps against South Dakota, according to PFF College. He ranked at 73.5 while at right tackle Christian Dufie had the team’s best offensive rating at 83.6, followed by left tackle KT Leveston at 79.2, backup right guard Hadley Panzer at 77.0, backup right tackle Sculptor Willis at 76.2 and right guard Taylor Poitier at 73.8.
It’s important to note that Poitiers suffered an ACL injury and will miss the rest of the season.
Nonetheless, nine of the Wildcats’ 15 highest-ranked offensive players were linemen. Now it was against FCS South Dakota, but it’s still impressive.
Captain and security Marte-Manuel said he preaches to the defensive line to make sure they do their job and don’t try to be the star of the show by doing other people’s jobs.
“I spoke to the defensive line about last year and our gap mentality and I think we have to be a lot more patient because Deuce (Vaughn) is such a good fullback,” Manuel said. “He likes to jump over there until the hole develops, so we can’t have defensive linemen who jump into the gap and then come out… We have to play for each other, we can’t have someone trying to boost their stats and trying to do everything wrong by screwing up the person behind them.
The Tigers defensive line appeared to be the best position group on the field against Louisiana Tech controlling gaps and establishing edges but with the increased defensive tackle of the competition Jayden Jernigan believes they will also need to be more physical in addition to gap discipline.
“They (the Wildcats offensive line) are very disciplined. They all move at the same pace at the same time. So that’s just the things we’re going to look at. Everything is movie. It’s always going to be a game,” Jernigan said. “We just have to physically surpass them. This is the whole basis of the game. Whoever wins the trenches will win the match.
Is it still a rivalry?
For the first time since Missouri joined the SEC, it will face Kansas State, and sentiment about the Tigers facing an old Big 12 foe is mixed. While fans of both teams will likely get a little more juice from this one, players and coaches only see it as the Tigers’ first real test against a Power Five team.
Considering the last time Missouri played at Kansas State, most of the players on that Missouri team were between the ages of 7 and 11, the “rivalry” doesn’t really seem alive.
Drinkwitz and company seemed more motivated to prove they could win on the road. Something they didn’t do much last season.
“We had a win on the road. So it’s a test for this football team to have their identity to establish what we want to do on the road,” Drinkwitz said. “So I don’t really think what’s happened in the past has anything to do with what’s going to happen on Saturday.”
Chance Luper Update
Following the victory over Louisiana Tech, Drinkwitz announced that earlier Thursday Luck Luper was suffering from a serious illness that will keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks.
On Tuesday, Drinkwitz provided an update. He said Luper is home and out of the hospital but his return status is now unknown.
“The chance is great and out of the hospital at home. He hasn’t been able to be back with the team yet simply because he only handles the uncomfortable part. I don’t know how long he’s going to be out,” Drinkwitz said. “Always a contact sport and with this specific disease you’re going to have to really rely on the doctors and make sure. But dad is fine. Luck, is very disappointed, I think in the doctor’s office (Thursday) they talk about sending him to the emergency room and he says, ‘you mean I can’t play tonight?’ So that means a lot to him.
Luper was expected to have a big role in the attack and with his exit, it sets the stage for Mekhi Miller to see some action. Miller, a true freshman from Overland Park, Kansas, saw 11 snaps and caught a pass for 17 yards against Louisiana Tech. It’s possible that Miller will see more time as the season progresses, especially if other wide receivers are to miss the action. What was considered a wide and very deep reception room has now slimmed down considerably.
“Mekhi was always there with it and tried to take it. Just in case we got an injury. Peanut (Demariyon Houston) couldn’t go because of the lingering hamstring injury that’s going to keep him away for a long period of time, and so now it’s just pushed Mekhi into an even bigger role in a play that’s got a little thin,” Drinkwitz says. In the summer, we thought that room was going to be pretty deep. That’s why we moved Ja’Marion Wayne. So that’s the game, that’s football, that’s life.”