When Shawn Robinson emerged from the Missouri sideline for the team’s first drive against Alabama on Saturday, it appeared the long-awaited quarterback question had an answer.
Throughout spring practice, summer camp and fall camp, Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz maintained that no starting quarterback had been determined and later said one wouldn’t be announced before Week 1.
Robinson facilitated the Tigers offense for the first three drives, but Drinkwitz turned to redshirt freshman Connor Bazelak to start the second quarter and again for the final drive of the game. That was part of Drinkwitz’s game plan going in, and he is willing to play both throughout the whole season, the coach said Tuesday.
“I’m comfortable playing multiple guys meaningful snaps throughout the season,” Drinkwitz said. “I don’t think this is going to be a typical season like we’ve ever had before. I don’t think we have enough data to think we’re going to be able to go through the season with one quarterback. Ultimately, I think both guys played well. Both guys competed, both guys gave us what we expected to give us, and both guys will get reps moving forward.”
Throughout fall camp, the two were consistent at getting the team into the end zone, Drinkwitz said.
“That’s really the No. 1 criteria for being the quarterback,” Drinkwitz said. “It’s really not about stats. It’s about: Do you lead your team to scoring drives?”
On Bazelak’s first drive, he threw a third-down incomplete pass into coverage, and Missouri punted. Drinkwitz noted that the freshman had an opportunity to get the first down with his legs on that play and that he showed improvement later in the game. On the game’s final play, he stepped up in the pocket and took off for a fourth-down touchdown.
Aside from a few sacks, Robinson looked sharp, completing 19 of 25 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. Robinson said Saturday that he had to get rid of the ball more to avoid the negative plays. On Tuesday, Drinkwitz said that he showed toughness after taking hits in the pocket.
Starting cornerback Jarvis Ware is day-to-day with a knee injury after receiving an MRI over the weekend. Drinkwitz is hopeful that Ware will play against Tennessee on Saturday.
Linebacker Aubrey Miller opted out of the 2020 season, Drinkwitz announced. Miller is the seventh Missouri player to opt out of the season with Chris Shearin being the most recent on Saturday.
“It is what it is with the opt-outs and the players,” Drinkwitz said. “We’re going to go on with the opportunity to play football this year and represent this great university and be privileged to have the opportunity to play. The guys that are here are committed to each other. They’ve proven that commitment to each other by a second round of testing with zero positives. We’re playing football this year, and the expectation is for us to always put a team on the field. With people leaving, that provides another opportunity for people to play.”
Missouri also released its Week 2 depth chart. Bazelak and Robinson are still listed as an “OR,” and Larry Rountree III is now listed as the starting running back. On the defense, Cameron Wilkins is now a co-starter along with Devin Nicholson. Trajan Jeffcoat was added as a backup defensive end after he rejoined the team one month ago and had one sack on Saturday.
“(Jeffcoat) has done an excellent job on his own working out, staying in shape,” Drinkwitz said. “Coach Haley did a really nice job of getting re-acclimated to the schemes and understanding what we’re doing and getting him ready. I thought Coach Walters did a nice job of incorporating him just enough in the game for him to make an impact. We’re excited about his growth as a player and what he brings to this football team.”
Missouri with zero positive COVID-19 results from Sunday’s tests
After seven Missouri players missed the Alabama game because of issues related to COVID-19, Drinkwitz received some positive news earlier this week.
On the team’s first round of tests this week, Drinkwitz said there were zero positives. He also said the team is awaiting results to see if any members can return this week.
“We are in that gray area,” Drinkwitz said. “There’s a four-day return to play protocol for some of our guys, and depending how these next two, three days and the results of that testing, we’ll determine who’s available.”