COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Mizzou football team may have one of the best starts to a season in recent history on its hands, however, the group is not letting that success go their heads. Head coach Eli Drinkwitz is strongly encouraging players to not seek out any of the praises of the season on social media.
He said there is still a lot of room for improvement and that's what the Tigers need to focus on, ahead of hosting South Carolina on homecoming.
"You go looking for pats on the back, instead of being critical or hard on yourself and saying 'I need to be uncomfortable to continue to grow.' That's really what our team needs to do to have success this week," Drinkwitz said. "You look back at the [Kentucky] game, we didn't play particularly well in a lot of areas."
You can watch the full press conference with Drinkwitz in the video player below.
Coach Eli went on to point out that his team needs improve, defensively, on fitting the run, adjusting to motions and getting their eyes in the right spots. Offensively, he sees room for improvement in the run game, red zone opportunities and, overall, avoiding a slow start like the Tigers had against the Wildcats on Saturday.
He went on to say that coaches can preach the need for improvement all they want, but it has to be a choice the entire team makes, together.
"Winning doesn't negotiate, you know. It costs what it costs to win football games and we got to pay the price," Coach Drinkwitz said.
Mizzou's captains have been motivating the rest of the team to stay humble and focus on that need for improvement through the 6-1 start to the season. A perfect example of that mindset comes from defensive end Darius Robinson. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week and also earned weekly honors from the Reese's Senior Bowl. However, he said it's time to move on from that and focus on the Gamecocks.
"It's definitely an honor and I'm glad I was able to receive an award, but, honestly, when I watch the tape, I realize there's still so much room for me to grow. I'm thankful for it, but I got to move on, on to the next week," he said.
You can watch the full press conference with Robinson in the video player below.
The freshmen on MU's roster have taken that message to heart, as well. The group has made in instant impact on the field, between guys like wide receiver Marquis Johnson, defensive back Phillip Roche and others.
"It's a lot taking it in, knowing that what we're doing right now at Mizzou is being accomplished, but it just comes with the game. I don't really listen to all that [praise]. I just go to work everyday and just do what I do for my team," Johnson said.
You can watch the full press conference with Johnson in the video player below.
In week eight, the Tigers will have to scheme for South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler. The redshirt senior ranks fifth in the SEC in passing yards, two spots behind MU QB Brady Cook, and likes to use his legs, as well. Rattler works in tandem with wide receiver Xavier Legette, who is third in the SEC in receiving yards in 2023.
"Just do your job and attack the ball," Mizzou defensive back Tre'Vez Johnson said. "I mean, like I said, it's what we kind of honed in on last week. As long as we got everybody, all 11 dudes out there, doing their job, I mean I feel like we can beat anybody."
You can watch the full press conference with Tre'Vez Johnson in the video player below.
However, the Gamecocks will have their hands full with the Mizzou offense, as well. Cook has notched more than 340 passing yards in four games this season, thanks to a plethora of weapons in his receiver room.
He's had more time to throw the football lately, as well, as the Tiger offensive line has seen big improvement under the new leadership of position coach Brandon Jones.
"We're just taking it week-by-week," offensive lineman Javon Foster said. "We're just trying to focus on our jobs and make sure we're 1-0 each week. We just feel like we got to do a better job running the ball, being more consistent in the run game, but other than that I feel like we're doing a pretty good job."
You can watch the full press conference with Foster in the video player below.
Mizzou's homecoming game against South Carolina will kick off at 2:30 p.m. at Faurot Field, on Saturday.