Closing the book on the 2022 Missouri football season

Year Three of the Elijah Drinkwitz era has come to an end. In fact, there were many problems, and there were many problems. Tiger fans were kept on the edge of their seats (for better or worse) throughout this season, and it ended with a 6-7 record and a 27-17 Gasparilla Bowl loss to Wake Forest.

There are many things to describe in this 2022 campaign. From the development of Brady Cook, to the tough defense of Blake Baker, to the reports of Luther Burden III and Dominic Lovett, there are many stories to be told. Let’s take a look at what went down and where this program stands heading into 2023.

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Game Details: 24.9

More Meters Per Game: 212.92

Rushing Yards Per Game: 154.7

Total Touchdowns Scored: 37

Total Plays Ran: 885

Summary of Prerequisites: 241

Average Penalty Yards Per Game: 63.7

Duration of Each Game: 31:05

3rd Down Changes: 39.38%

4th Down Conversions: 50.0%

Attempts/Red Points: 38/47

Scores of Opponents in Each Match: 25.15

Opponents Passing Yards Per Game: 215.3

Opponent Rushing Yards Per Game: 125.5

Touchdowns allowed: 41

Opponent’s 3rd Amendment: 34.41%

4th Down Conversion Opponent: 63.2%

Attempts/Red Points: 35/40

3 stars

Isaiah McGuire | End of Protection

Statistics: 40 tackles, 14 TFLs, 8.5 sacks

After a gradual improvement in his career, McGuire played his best ball in his final season. He put his pass-rushing skills on display all year, and with his 6’4”, 274 lb. frame, he has plenty of potential at the next level. On top of that, McGuire was a true leader for this team and made many big plays during the season. He, along with many others on the D-line, revived the “D-line Zou” mantra in Columbia.

Dominic Lovett | Wide Receiver

Statistics for 2022: 56 catches, 846 yards, 3 TDs

Despite his transfer at the end of the season, Lovett was still a star for this team. In his second season on campus, Lovett took over opposing defenses with his big-play ability. He and Brady Cook had a great relationship throughout the season, and Lovett made several key plays throughout the season. While I wish he was still with the Tigers, I wish him the best of luck in Georgia next summer.

Ty’Ron Hopper | Outside Linebacker

Statistics: 77 total, 13.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 4 pass breakups

Florida’s transfer came with little hype, and it passed. Hopper was a force to be reckoned with all season, causing chaos all over the field as the leader of Blake Baker’s defense. He set the tone for this defense with a 6 tackle, 2 TFL performance in the opener against Louisiana Tech, and continued to jump off screens during the season.

Outstanding Player of the Year

Cody Schrader | Running Back

Statistics: 170 carries, 746 yards, 9 TDs, 137 receiving yards

The transfer from Truman State was a fan favorite this season. Schrader slowly took over the starting duties in the backfield after several impressive games against Georgia and Vanderbilt, and he never looked back. He ran with an aggressiveness and obvious toughness, and he was always looking for extra yards when he was tackled. His footwork and vision remain his strengths, but Schrader improved with each game this season and is sure to have a big role again in 2023. After just to make a name for himself on special teams to start the season, Cody Schrader changed. The emotional story of the 2022 Missouri Tigers.

The Best Moment Ever

29-27 Win at Arkansas

MVP: Brady Cook (242 yards passing, 138 rushing yards, two TDs)

The South Carolina win was great and came at a time when it was needed, but nothing beats your opponent getting into a bowl game in the final game of the season. The part that made this game special, however, was how it happened.

Brady Cook had struggled most of the season, but he played his best game today. Arkansas was fresh off a 42-27 victory over then-No. 14 Ole Miss, but they didn’t look like that on Black Friday. The Tigers had lost many close games during the season, but finally won one against the Razorbacks. All reports seemed to support Mizzou for the first time this year, and it allowed them to make the postseason and correct (almost) all the mistakes of the 2022 season.

The Worst Moment Ever

21-17 Loss to Kentucky

I was really torn. It’s hard to get worse than an Auburn game in which the Tigers were rightfully close to winning (TWICE), but losing to Kentucky seems to sting in a different way.

Victory No. 25 South Carolina seemed to be the first domino in Missouri’s turnaround. A home date with Kentucky is primed to be the next quality win to turn the tide. Ever since Missouri entered the conference, the Wildcats have been a thorn in their side and have broken the hearts of Mizzou fans multiple times. On this day, they did exactly that.

A strong punter line is one that will be on all of our minds for a while, just like Mizzou’s linebackers will be from Kentucky’s sideline. But, Will Levis played one of his better games of the year and shut down Missouri’s secondary in the first half, and Mizzou was 2-for-13 on third downs in the game. Add the two versions, and you can see many of the reasons this was an L in the record book.

It was a heartbreaking loss because it seemed to seriously hurt any hopes of making a bowl game, but more so because, again, the Tigers had lost a close one.

Takeaway food

  • D-line Zou is back in Columbia. Blake Baker’s defensive backfield has been strong all season, and they have the talent to keep that up until the end of his season.
  • Brady Cook has steadily improved throughout this offseason and finally looked comfortable at the end. He has potential if given time and the parts around him, though he will have to win the job again this offseason.
  • The offensive line needs to be cleaned up with transfers or a freshman this season. The O-line was the team’s biggest issue many times throughout the season, and it hurt the entire offense.
  • Skill-level talent remains at Columbia. Luther Burden III, Theo Wease, Jr., Mekhi Miller and Cody Schrader should lead a strong group of players going forward.
  • Baker has a tough job returning great talent next season, but he has the tradition he wants and plenty of opportunity waiting in the middle. He could go down as one of the top recruits in Missouri football history if he puts together another season like 2022.
  • The mistake turned out to be very good when Drinkwitz was assisted by Bush Hamdan in calling the plays at the end of the regular season. TBD on if the play calling duties change next season, because if they don’t, that might be the main reason fans want Drinkwitz’s job.
  • Harrison Mevis took a step back, but he still has NFL-caliber footwork.
  • Drinkwitz knows how to turn a season around. Make it two straight years he’s had a team go from 3-4 to bowling. His teams fight hard in every game and don’t fold even when the outside noise and pressure is at its worst.
  • When we talk about the structure of this group, it became clear through the press conferences that it is a close-knit group. They openly stated that this was Drinkwitz’s best and most exciting year, but they also seemed to care deeply about the group. Losing all those games hurt them, but they stood up and were rewarded.
  • Close losses have been the story of the 2022 season, as this team would have been an 8-9 win team with only a handful of games. Can they change that next season?

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Missouri

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Now, we move on to next season. Drinkwitz recently signed an extension through the 2027 season, meaning the athletic department has him for the long haul. The Tigers currently have the 37th overall 2023 recruiting class and the 9th overall transfer class (per 24/7 Sports). He has a sub-.500 record (17-19) with the Tigers, yet Drinkwitz has pitched the team to a bowl game in each of his helm seasons.

However, this program is about to do a lot more… if they make some important changes.

For me, it starts with the offensive line. In addition to Brady Cook, that team held the offense back in 2022. They need to add more depth this offseason, and quality at that.

On top of that, it will be interesting to see how Drinkwitz approaches playing next season. After he went down the field later in the season, the offense seemed to thrive. Will you consider hiring an offensive coordinator? Or at least fix the responsibility of play-calling?

Other than that, there’s a lot to like about this team heading into next season. Cook appeared to play his best football at the end of the season, although the end of the bowl game was less than that.

With another full season, he should only get better in 2023. He’ll have more weapons to use out wide, and the run game should improve as Schrader takes over. starting all the time. However, I wouldn’t rule out a transfer being brought in to push Cook for the starting job this spring to spark this offense.

The defense will have some tools to work on, especially in the front seven, but while Kris Abrams-Draine, Ennis Rakestraw, Jr. and Daylan Carnell return, Baker has a solid base to work with. If they can hit the portal to fill some gaps and see other guys develop (Johnny Walker, Arden Walker, etc.), this should be another solid division in 2023.

The schedule is generally light, with Kansas State coming to Columbia for the final week of the regular season. However, Mizzou draws LSU from the West and will have to travel to Athens, Fayetteville and Lexington.

An increase in wins is expected and may be necessary for Drinkwitz to keep his job, but playing in the SEC is a constant battle. The Tigers have struggled to keep their heads above water the past two years, drowning at certain points in the season. They won’t be able to do that again in 2023.

From now on, I’ll put them at 7-5, but that will change throughout the season. K-State (home), Florida (home), Kentucky (away), South Carolina (home) and Arkansas (away) will represent another slew of swing games that will likely cause heartbreak and excitement. to Mizzou fans everywhere.

Here’s to a 2022 Missouri season that had every moment imaginable, and a 2023 campaign that will surely bring more.

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