COLUMBIA, Mo. – A lot has changed for Eli Drinkwitz, Mizzou’s head football coach since he coached against South Carolina last season.
Drinkwitz, the former Appalachian State football coach, beat South Carolina in an out of conference match-up in the 2019 season with the Mountaineers. Now Drinkwitz will coach against South Carolina once again, this time with an SEC team of his own and a pandemic in the air.
The Tigers are 2-3 this season, and due to players testing positive for the coronavirus, their game against Georgia at home was postponed.
“We need to stay healthy, we are really limited right now by our scholarship numbers and players available,” Drinkwitz said.
The game against the Gamecocks on Saturday gives the Tigers an opportunity to play for the Mayor’s Cup. Drinkwitz said if his players can’t get excited to play for a trophy, then they’re in the wrong line of business.
“People that aren’t motivated find a way out, people that are motivated find a way in.”
He said their real job on Saturday is deciding whether or not to commit more guys to the box, but leave one-on-ones or commit more guys to cover Gamecocks’ wide receiver Shi Smith, which then leaves them light in the box.
Teams have experienced chaos this season, with taking COVID tests weekly and postponing games. Sunday, the Gamecocks’ head coach Will Muschamp stepped down. They now have former Colorado State head coach, Mike Bobo serving at the top position for the remainder of the season.
“We got a really tremendous challenge ahead of us. You know they’re going to have great energy and rallying effort for the staff and for coach Muschamp, circle the wagons type game for them. Really its about us and making sure we execute our job more than trying to figure out who’s going to be playing for them.”
Drinkwitz said he currently has 56 scholarship players eligible to play, with one of them still suspended for the first half. He didn’t go into specifics, but he said that there have been positive cases on the team since the announcement that two players tested positive on Wednesday, November 11.
“We will do everything in our power to play football Saturday because our team and our seniors deserve that opportunity,” Drinkwitz said.