COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Mizzou football team is hoping for better results in the team's second-straight year facing No. 15 Kansas State. After a 28-point loss to the Wildcats in 2022, head coach Eli Drinkwitz said his guys are, "excited to play," in a sellout game at Faurot Field.
Drinkwitz didn't get too in depth into the extra motivation this game might provide for the Tigers, following last season's 40-12 loss, however, he did note how important regional rivalries are to the game.
"Obviously there will be the water cooler conversation, there will be the people this summer flying their flags at the lakes and talking trash and I think that's what makes college football so much fun," Drinkwitz said. "Obviously, we're going to have an unbelievable atmosphere here. I'm excited to see what a sold out Faurot Field looks like. 11 a.m.'s a little bit early to be too excited, but we'll make do."
You can watch the full press conference with Drinkwitz in the video player below.
Mizzou linebacker Chuck Hicks said that the team is heading into Saturday's game against the reigning Big 12 champions, just like any other game.
"We just got to go out there and play and compete. Another week. I don't want to put too much of them on a pedestal. I think we just got to go do our job," he said.
One of Mu's problem against the Wildcats one year ago is something the team is, actually, still working on in 2023: explosive plays on offense. In the 2022 meeting, the Tigers put up 12 points courtesy of two field goals and a garbage time touchdown. It was a rough game for returning starter Brady Cook, as well, as he threw two interceptions and threw for just 128 yards and no touchdowns.
Once again, the K-State defense will provide a challenge for Mizzou. Drinkwitz said that offensive coordinator Kirby Moore is the one calling plays, but they need to get more comfortable in their process and cut the offense loose. Drinkwitz said his team will need to fix a number of issues, including protection and mis-reads, to become a more explosive offense in the future.
In the Tigers' week two 23-19 win against Middle Tennessee State University, there were some ups and downs, offensively. Cook finished 14-of-19, throwing for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a rushing touchdown, however, he also took four sacks, including one safety that made it a four point game with minutes to go.
"I think we had an opportunity in the first quarter. The ball could have been brought a little bit further to the field or thrown further or Luther could make the catch. You know, I think all three of those could have created an explosive play right there. We had a couple of shots dialed up, but we didn't get the protection that we needed, so it's a combination," Drinkwitz said.
Drinkwitz said that he thinks the strength of Kansas State's team starts with their offensive line, a group which includes five returning starters.
"For our havoc defense, we had 12 tackles for loss and four sacks, which was positives," Drinkwitz said. "I think that's a trademark of what coach Baker's style of defenses do. The negatives were they were 50 percent on third down against us and 2-for-3 on fourth down, so we got to get them into third down, but we got to get ourselves off the field. That's got to be a point of emphasis this week."
Mizzou and No. 15 Kansas State will kickoff in front of a sellout crowd at Faurot Field on Saturday at 11 a.m.