The Missouri Tigers are gearing up for the upcoming season, and head coach Eli Drinkwitz is excited about the competitive depth and opportunities for players to find their roles. With 25 practices to determine the starting lineup for the season opener against South Dakota on Aug. 31, the Tigers have a lot to sort out in fall camp. In this article, we’ll dive into the discussions held by Coach Drinkwitz and take a closer look at the competitions and lineup battles that will shape the Missouri Tigers’ roster for the 2023 season.
Offensive Battles: Quarterback and Wide Receiver
The quarterback competition is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated battles in fall camp. Coach Eli Drinkwitz made it clear that starting spots on offense won’t be handed out, and players will have to earn their positions. While the quarterback competition takes the spotlight, other positions on offense also need to be sorted out.
One area of focus is the wide receiver room. With Luther Burden set to take over the slot position, the X-receiver and Z-receiver spots have a mix of returning players, incoming transfers, and talented freshmen. Coach Eli Drinkwitz acknowledged the desire of wide receivers to get their hands on the football, stating, “All of them want the ball a lot. So you got 10 guys that want the football.” The competition in the wide receiver room will be fierce as players aim to make their mark and secure playing time.
Offensive Line: Solidifying Positions
While the left tackle position seems solidified with Javon Foster, an All-SEC preseason second-team selection, the rest of the offensive line has some battles to be fought. The center and right side of the line are particularly up for grabs, with Cam’Ron Johnson transferring in as a center and Marcellus Johnson joining as a right tackle. The coaching staff will have the flexibility to move players around to optimize the lineup and create the best combination of skills and chemistry. Coach Drinkwitz mentioned the possibility of Cam’Ron Johnson playing guard and even hinted at a potential position change for last year’s starting center, Connor Tollison, if it benefits the team. The offensive line battles will be crucial in establishing a strong front to protect the quarterback and open up running lanes.
Defensive Line: Shaping the Front Four
Coach Drinkwitz highlighted the competition on the defensive line as a key area of focus for the coaching staff. With Darius Robinson transitioning from defensive tackle to defensive end and splitting time between both positions, the front four will see some changes. Determining the best combination of players in the defensive line rotation will be crucial for the Tigers’ success. While Coach Eli Drinkwitz didn’t mention Kris Abrams-Draine and Ennis Rakestraw specifically, their roles in the cornerback competition will be important in solidifying the secondary.
Other Position Battles and Competitions
Beyond the quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive line battles, there are other positions that will see competition during fall camp. Running back, tight end and various defensive positions will also be up for grabs as players vie for starting spots and playing time.
In the running back room, several talented players will compete for carries and the opportunity to be the go-to option in the Tigers’ ground game. Tight end battles will determine who will step up as reliable targets in the passing game and contribute as blockers in the run game.
Defensively, while certain positions seem to have assumed starters, there will be competitions to determine the depth and backup options. Coach Drinkwitz emphasized the importance of having competitive depth, which allows the coaching staff to identify the team’s best players and develop a strong roster from top to bottom.
The Fun and Challenges of Competitions
As the Tigers embark on fall camp and the competition heats up, Coach Drinkwitz sees the fun side of the battles. While the coaching staff has the responsibility of determining the starters, the competition among players brings excitement and opportunities to showcase their skills and make an impact on the team. Coach Drinkwitz noted, “We got a lot of different competitions that are fun because it lets you know there’s a lot of competitive depth.” The challenges and intensity of fall camp will ultimately shape the Missouri Tigers as they prepare for a successful 2023 season.
Something to Prove
As fall camp commences, the Missouri Tigers are ready to embrace the competitions and lineup battles that will shape their roster for the 2023 season. Coach Eli Drinkwitz’s emphasis on competitive depth and finding players’ roles set the stage for intense battles at various positions on both sides of the ball. From the quarterback competition to the wide receiver room, offensive line battles to defensive line rotations, and the fights for playing time at running back and tight end, the Tigers’ fall camp will be filled with excitement and opportunities for players to make their mark. The coaching staff will carefully evaluate performances and make tough decisions to field the most competitive and talented team come the season opener on Aug. 31 against South Dakota. Stay tuned for updates as the Tigers progress through fall camp and prepare for an exciting season ahead.