Trading places: Missouri swapping players around to keep season moving

Sports

KNOXVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 03, 2020 – The Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Missouri Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

ST. LOUIS, Mo- If Missouri takes to the field Saturday against South Carolina, which as of this writing is still a big if, with one more round of coronavirus testing left, fans shouldn’t be surprised to see some players in different positions.

The Southeastern Conference requires teams have 53 scholarship athletes in order to play safely. As of Wednesday, Missouri sits at 54, due to a combination of injuries, suspensions, transfers, opt-outs, plus coronavirus and resulting contact tracing.

Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz said earlier this season that his team had not yet started to cross-train players to prepare for roster crunches like this, but that has since changed. Tuesday he confirmed that some wide receivers were working out at defensive back and Offensive Lineman Drake Heismeyer (Francis Howell) was now on the defensive line.

“We’ve got our guys and they’ll be ready to go, just got to be ready to execute,” quarterback Connor Bazelak said when asked if the shuffling had been a problem this week.” But he acknowledged that the “will we play or not” issue was hard to ignore.

“It’s hard to not think about just because you’re trying to focus in on an opponent and prepare for an opponent but at the same time you don’t know if you’re really going to play that opponent or even play that week. At the end of the day its just about trusting the coaches, trusting the game plan, sticking to your routine, watching film, it really comes down to having routines, sticking to it,” he said.

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