Missouri football coach Eliah Drinkwitz entered his video press conference Wednesday wearing a mask with the Missouri logo.

The first-year head coach’s attire set the tone for his stance on Tiger fans wearing masks.

“We need to mask up,” Drinkwitz said, “and I know there’s a lot of hot-topic opinions on it, but I choose to wear my mask because I believe that’s in the best interest of what we’re trying to accomplish from a public health standpoint.”

Drinkwitz offered a clear stance on an issue that has divided some of Columbia. The city council voted to implement a mask ordinance July 7 that went into effect Friday.

“It’s got to the point where there’s, supposedly on Twitter, you got the coronabros and then you got the guys that think it’s fake, and now you’ve got both sides rooting against each other,” Drinkwitz said. “I’m just rooting for the United States of America and I’m just rooting for us to beat the disease. I don’t care who’s right or wrong.”

Drinkwitz didn’t get into how mask-wearing in Columbia could affect Missouri’s football season, but he acknowledged that wearing a mask could prevent another stay-at-home order in the city.

He also emphasized that Missouri is preparing as if the season will begin as scheduled on Sept. 5 against Central Arkansas in Columbia. The Pac-12 and Big Ten have shifted to conference-only schedules, and that outcome is one of many possibilities for the Southeastern Conference, which won’t decide on the status of its season until later in July. Drinkwitz hasn’t focused on that yet.

“If we play a conference-only schedule, would Lou Saban or Nick Saban be the head coach at Alabama?” Drinkwitz said.

Drinkwitz’s quip was about President Donald Trump, who misidentified Alabama coach Nick Saban as Lou Saban on a conference call Monday, but reinforced the idea that the first-year coach’s team still plans to be playing football this fall.

Drinkwitz didn’t have any comment on hypothetical scenarios for the season. But he did unveil his ice cream preference.

“If I reacted to every single Twitter chase, every suggestion or everything that went out, I would have gray hair (and) less hair than I have,” Drinkwitz said. “I’d be eating Tiger Streak Andy’s Custard three times a day.”

Drinkwitz points to two new playmakers on offense

The lack of spring or summer practices has meant less time for Drinkwitz to see his new players and has slowed the transition into the team’s new offense.

Drinkwitz said he still doesn’t have a great sense of what he has yet because of limited practice time, but he is excited about Missouri’s two graduate transfer receivers, especially Division II Angelo State transfer Keke Chism.

“The fact that nobody asked about Keke Chism on this phone call blows my mind because that dude’s an absolute freakin’ stud and a steal,” Drinkwitz said. “I couldn’t be more excited about this young man transferring into our program and being just an unbelievable person, great character, former high school quarterback that’s really developed himself into a tremendous player and potential NFL player.”

Chism is a 6-foot-4 wideout who committed to Missouri on June 20 and was an all-Lone Star Conference selection in 2019 after hauling in six touchdowns and 878 receiving yards.

Chism joins Virginia Tech transfer Damon Hazelton and returnees Jalen Knox in a group of receivers that can help out Missouri’s new quarterback this season.

“To be able to add him with a young man like Damon Hazelton on the outside, I mean, our quarterbacks, whoever our quarterback is, has added two tremendous weapons that are going to be tremendous,” Drinkwitz said.

Larry Rountree named to Doak Walker Award watchlist

Another playmaker Drinkwitz will have at his disposal is running back Larry Rountree, who was named to the Doak Walker Award watchlist Monday.

The award goes to the top running back in the country each season. Rountree had a team-high 829 yards rushing last season.

  • Assistant Sports Editor, spring 2020. Studying Print and Digital Journalism. Reach me at awkimball@missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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