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Mizzou coordinators set expectations for spring camp


For the Mizzou football team, spring camp is all about individual player development and finding the weaknesses before fall comes and it all started on Tuesday afternoon. The Tigers took Faurot Field for practice for the first time this spring. 

You can watch extended highlights of the first practice of the spring in the video player below.

Before practice started up, the MU coordinators — offensive coordinator Kirby Moore, first year defensive coordinator Corey Batten and special teams coordinator Erik Link — all met with the media to preview the next few weeks. 

One of the big stories of spring camp is the debut of Batoon, in his first year in Columbia. Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz hired Batoon in Jan., after former coordinator Blake Baker left for the same job at LSU. Batoon rolled into Columbia with quite a bit of coaching experience and will look to keep some continuity for his defensive players moving forward. 

“Things that we’ve done that have been in alignment, you know, we’ve always been kind of a havoc-style defense and have tried to create those negative plays. We’ve tried to do a good job against the run, which they’ve done here, traditionally. Then, being situationally elite, those are things that we’ve kind of done and I think there’s been alignment in regards to how [Eli Drinkwitz] sees that side of the ball playing,” Batoon said. “The way we go about doing it may be a little different, but the foundation is very set here with the talent and some of the coaches that are still here.” 

You can watch the full press conference with Batoon in the video player below.

The Hawai’i-native has been on campus, in Columbia, for a few weeks now and said he has been thoroughly impressed with the Tiger locker room. He said there is no entitlement amongst those guys and they’ve also done a great job welcoming and embracing himself, along with some of the transfers and freshmen. 

It’s not Batoon’s first time in Missouri, though. Back in 1996, he was the special teams coordinator and also coached safeties at Central Missouri State. He said, when he first arrived, it was insane to see the amount of change that this Mizzou program has undergone. 

“That was 27 years ago and I drove through here, recruited in St. Louis at the time, so I kind of knew Columbia and all of that stuff,” he said. “Obviously, this isn’t what it looked like 27 years ago. It always cool to kind of see the growth and potential of places. Obviously, when you play in this league and the competitiveness of this league, it requires to have some of these things.” 

Over the years, Batoon has also kept up with Coach Drink’s career, as they overlapped briefly at Arkansas State, as Batoon was on his way out and Drinkwitz was on his way in. He said that he always knew Coach Eli was a talent and it’s amazing to see what he built in a short time in Missouri. 

On the offensive side, there is a whole lot of consistency with the return of Moore. He had quite a bit of success in his first year with Mizzou, as he looked to create a more explosive offense. He said that he felt they were successful in that respect, but does want to work on limiting turnovers in 2024. That’s a stat the he said was critical in MU’s two losses in 2023. 

One of the big challenges for him will be replacing the production of running back Cody Schrader, as the St. Louis-native graduated and went to the NFL Draft. 

“That’s something we are going to work on throughout the offseason. I really see it as there’s a lot of opportunity and that’s not just only in the running back room because from a leadership perspective Cody did a huge amount for our program,” Moore said. 

You can watch the full press conference with Moore in the video player below.

In the offseason, the Tigers brought on Georgia State transfer Marcus Carroll, as well as Appalachian State transfer Nate Noel to try to fill that hole. Moore said those are guys that have brought efficiency, explosivity and consistency at a high level in their careers.

There is no quarterback competition in 2024. Veteran Brady Cook is the clear leader of the Tiger football team, but there is a bit of concern about who will backup the St. Louis native. MU's previous backup, Sam Horn, underwent Tommy John surgery, which will hold him out of the 2024 baseball season, as well as spring camp and likely the 2024 football season.

Moore is planning on a couple of younger guys, Aidan Glover and Harold Blood, getting quite a few reps this spring camp, however, the situation has not been solved yet. It's important to note, though, that Drinkwitz and company do not set a depth chart during spring ball.

On special teams, Mizzou will be moving forward without star kicker Harrison Mevis, as he graduated in 2023. Coordinator Erik Link said that he is excited to work with sophomore Blake Craig moving forward.

"We have spots that guys will have to replace all over the field and all over the team. That's why recruit and bring guys in. I really think that Blake Craig is extremely talented and look forward to seeing what he can do."

You can watch the full press conference with Link in the video player below.

The Tigers will continue spring camp on Wednesday.

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Nathalie Jones

Nathalie anchors and reports sports for ABC17. She started working at the station in June 2020.


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