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Drinkwitz on Mizzou's OT win: 'That’s a good old fashioned SEC football game'

Drinkwitz on Mizzou's OT win: 'That’s a good old fashioned SEC football game'

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Florida vs Missouri, SEC Football

Missouri Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz calls out a play during a game between the Florida Gators and the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, Mo. on Saturday, Nov.20, 2021. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Here’s everything Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said after the Tigers’ 24-23 overtime victory over Florida:

Opening statement…

“Just so proud of our team, our seniors, our fans, our student section was unbelievable, the band. Just the fight. That’s a good old fashioned SEC football game right there. Both defenses playing really well. Both lines of scrimmage were a war every play. Really fortunate that Tyler Badie really came on for us strong in the third and fourth quarter. He actually called the pass to Niko (Hea). He told me they were yelling screen. He said (to) call, ‘Burn.’ I was like ‘No, that’s a crazy idea.’ I was like, ‘Nah, that’s probably a pretty good idea. Called it, hits for a touchdown. He puts us on his back for the last two plays. Really proud of Tyler.

“Proud of Connor (Bazelak). Faced a lot of criticism, faced a lot of boos. But when we needed him, he stepped up and made the plays we needed him to make. That’s what a quarterback has to do. He’s got to be mentally tough.

“Then, our defense. Can’t say enough about the job Steve (Wilks) is doing right now. Those guys are tackling, they’re stopping the run, playing good in coverage. We had a true freshman play all game tonight at left corner and just played really well. Tackled, covered, broke up passes. Allie Green probably had his best game since he’s been at Mizzou. Really proud of all those guys. Blaze Alldredge’s play down there on the speed option to make the pitch and then tackle the guy short. Just incredible effort by those guys. They were not going to be denied.”

On what the win meant to him…

"It’s interesting now, seniors transfer in, some of them have been COVID seniors. They’ve gone through a lot. For the last 18 months, I don’t think anything has gone the way they expected it to go with COVID, an extra year, a new coach, new position coaches in multiple places, and yet they continue to show up everyday and give everything they have. All week, we’ve just talked about this is senior week, these guys deserve that chance to grab that rock. That was special. I promised Mike Maietti he’d go bowling if he came back. That’s the only reason he came back because he’d never been to a bowl game. We came through today for that.”

On the decision to go for two in overtime …

“It’s a strategic decision. If you have offense the second set, you got to go back on offense and you have to go for two. Why have to go back on offense and then have to go for two? You might as well do it then. We felt really good about the play. Connor made a hell of a play. The first read is a fast flat by Tyler. The end went really wide, which then took away our second read which was the under by Barrett. But last year when we put the play in, our offensive staff said we need to make the Y (tight end) just run a hide route as a throwaway. If for whatever reason it’s not there, maybe the quarterback has that option.

“Every Friday we practice that play, and yesterday, normally we go through it mindless, we come out and we throw it to the tailback. For whatever reason yesterday, Connor came out, boom, fakes it, looks, buys the exact same play and threw it up to Daniel and caught it. I thought well that’s interesting. Practice execution makes a game day reality.”

On what the play is called…

“Good luck telling you that.”

On what the win says about his faith in Connor…

“Everybody has a right to express their opinion. That’s fine. But these young men are playing as hard as they possibly can. They’re not perfect. None of us are. The number one quarterback requirement is ignore the noise and all that is a lot of noise. You can have one of the worst games you've ever had and with two minutes left to go in the game, you’ve got to be a rock. You got to believe in yourself. Connor’s doing that. I get it, the most popular person on the football team is the backup quarterback. But right now, Connor gives us the best opportunity to win the game. I thought he stepped up, made big plays. That throw to Tauskie (Dove) was really awesome in the first quarter. We’ll continue to get better.”

On if he communicated they would go for two before the drive…

“We practice all these scenarios. They always know if we’re up second, we’re going for two.”

On what Badie’s runs did to get the offense going…

“I felt like we were playing uphill for most of the game. That first play out of halftime where we messed the snap up had an intentional grounding. I felt like we were inside the 20 every start point. For him to kind of flip the field on us was huge and really gave us an opportunity to ... I don’t even know if we scored… it gave us something. It was good.”

On the run defense…

“I think our D-Line is playing much better right now. I think our two interior backers are playing really hard downhill. Chad Bailey, Blaze Alldredge are playing very physical downhill. Our safeties are tackling really well in the box. It's just a combination of doing what we’ve been doing, but better.”

On the impact of having Harrison Mevis in a low scoring game…

“You got to have a guy who’s Mr. Reliable. We were very fortunate to have those nine points on the board.”

On what his reaction was when Daniel Parker Jr. caught the conversion...

“It’s all a blur, man. It’s all a blur. I think (assistant coach Curtis Luper) grabbed me. I feel a little sore right here. He kind of hugged me pretty hard. I don’t know, It’s kind of all a blur.”

On how Alldredge’s third-down tackle …

“It forced them to a field goal. I think that led to them having to kick a field goal to tie the game. Obviously that puts it in a different scenario. We got the ball back. I think we punted and then got the sack. Obviously, missed that next field goal. It gave us a chance to play with game control.”

On the lack of missed tackles and improvement this year …

“I don’t know if y’all know this, but we actually practice. We practice Tuesday and Wednesday tackling circuits and stuff. We’ve been practicing. I think so many teams at this time of the year are just trying to get the season over with. Our teams are playing for something. They’re playing for each other and they’re trying to get better and that's a good sign.”

On using the timeouts late in the fourth quarter …

“I was trying to see … one, we want to make them execute a special teams play. Can we make them execute a punt? Y’all remember the Michigan-Michigan State game. And he had a punt shanked earlier in the game that would’ve put us in field goal range. Put the play in their hands. When we got the ball obviously with two seconds left, there was no reason to risk anything.”

On if the play calls rely on Badie even when he isn’t getting the ball…

“They were playing something totally different tonight. They were playing a base defense with the same linebacker. They were going with a 4-2-5. It was a little bit different than what we expected. We were just struggling.”

On where this team has improved to get to a bowl and what he’s most proud of…

“They just keep fighting. Not y’all, y’all are doing your job, people questioned our effort and fight. That really bothered us. We worked way too hard not to give everything we got. During the bye week, I think this team made a re-commitment to each other, to this team and this program. We’re not perfect. We don’t play perfect. We’re not overly talented, but we play together. Vanderbilt, we found a way, everybody doing their job. Even in Georgia, the score didn’t reflect how proud I was of that team because man such bad circumstances knowing that game, to fight the way they did for every inch no matter what the score was. Then last week to find a way. Then this week, I'm just really proud of them.”

On where this win ranks for him in his Missouri tenure…

“I don’t know. It just happened. I have no idea. It’s good to get to six this year.”

On what he’s going to do to celebrate…

“Drink the rest of this Diet Coke. May or may not smoke a cigar.”

On if he’s going to watch some Star Wars…

“I might.”

On what makes him so emotional…

“People chose to come here. Some people didn’t choose me. Coming together is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. We’re just coming together. Whether it’s the seniors who came back, whether it’s through COVID, through adversity, through people leaving, people coming, it’s a process. We’re building that process.”

“May the Force be with you.”

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