Missouri’s offense got a good look at one of the nation’s top cornerbacks in Alabama’s Patrick Surtain in a 38-19 season-opening loss to the Crimson Tide.
Three weeks later that same offense finds itself in a transition period when arguably the nation’s best cornerback in Derek Stingley Jr. comes to town when LSU makes its first SEC visit at 11 a.m. Saturday to Missouri’s Faurot Field.
Missouri has decided to go with redshirt freshman Connor Bazelak this week against LSU, taking over for TCU transfer Shawn Robinson following last week’s 35-12 loss to Tennessee.
Stingley returned from a week one absence against Mississippi State and didn’t allow a catch, while registering a career-high 92 punt return yards that contributed to 10 of his team’s 41 points in a 41-7 triumph over Vanderbilt.
“Stingley’s one of the best corners in the country if not the best corner in the country,” first-year Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “He and Patrick Surtain, who we played week one, present tremendous challenges. He usually cancels out a receiver a game and we’ve got to make it where he can’t. We’ve got to affect the box by being able to throw the ball effectively. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge. They obviously have talented players on the offensive side of the ball, too. It’s a great challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity for our team to get a chance to compete.”
Here’s what else Drinkwitz had to say:
It’s 2020. Obviously, nothing is predictable. Excited about the opportunity to play this week. I think any opportunity to play college football game this season, in this environment is awesome. Thoughts and prayers with everybody along the Gulf Coast as they prepare for this upcoming storm. I know it’s a challenge times for those in the path and just wish them the best as they prepare for what lies ahead.”
On whether you believe it’s an advantage the game was moved to Columbia
“I haven’t looked into it from a competitive standpoint. Right now, my focus is trying to figure out how to stay on the field on third downs, how to keep them off the field and stop third-down drives and red zone. As far as a competitive advantage, obviously Faurot Field’s a great place and we’ll be in the home locker room. I understand this wasn’t a competitive advantage decision. It was about the health and safety of our players and everyone involved.”
On whether you’ve been part of a game that was affected by a hurricane
“In 2016. We played Notre Dame in a hurricane game and had to deal with the weather. We had a plan had we played down there. In 2018, we were scheduled to play West Virginia and a hurricane was coming down, so we canceled that game and then had to reschedule East Carolina for the end of the season.”
On not having to worry about hurricanes in Columbia
“No, we’re not worried about it up here. This is going to be an extremely safe place for those players and everybody’s that traveling to Columbia from LSU. I’m so glad and thankful that we were able to move the game up to 11 o’clock so that those guys can get home safely. That they’re going to be able to get back and land, hopefully during daylight, so if there were no electricity, they would be safe. Not that they were trying to get and save the extra travel time on their guys.”
On whether it’s easier to adjust with the hurricane given the 10 months you’ve spent that include the pandemic
“Every moment’s an opportunity for us to adjust, practice our mental toughness, look at what appears to be an opportunity and that’s what we’re choosing to do. We’re not going to me excuses. Excuses are everywhere and every opportunity to make an excuse is available. This is an opportunity to host a real good football team in Columbia. An opportunity to compete in a game where eight weeks ago we weren’t sure we would get to play college football. This is a tremendous opportunity for our team, and our seniors. We need to go out and compete and play hard and play better than we have been playing. It’s an awesome opportunity and look forward to having those guys come here. I’m glad that we were able to get this game. I’m glad we were able to get it moved up there for the health and safety of everyone involved.”
On how many full-team practices have you had this year because of COVID-19
“I’m not sure that I’ve had one with everybody.”
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