PowerMizzou - Battle for QB1: "This isn't happiness camp"
{{ timeAgo('2022-08-02 05:00:00 -0500') }} football Edit

Battle for QB1: "This isn't happiness camp"

Missouri has 29 days before it opens the 2022 season. There is little chance the public is going to know who will start that game against Louisiana Tech at quarterback until most--or maybe all--of those days have passed.

But it will be the major question every day from now until then.

Eli Drinkwitz said all spring he would not name a starting quarterback until freshman Sam Horn showed up and had a chance to compete for the job with returners Tyler Macon and Brady Cook. Then Drinkwitz spent most of the offseason batting his eyes at an array of transfer signal callers before finally landing a commitment from seventh-year senior Jack Abraham via Mississippi State. All four are being given a chance to earn the starting nod.

"We need battlefield commanders, guys to lead the group," Drinkwitz said. "I think sometimes in quarterback competitions, you try to give everybody the same number of reps with the ones. That's not how we're doing it.

"It doesn't matter if you're going with the ones, the twos, the threes, you're getting four reps. Do you own the group? Do you lead the group? Do you own everything that goes on?"

Jack Abraham is part of a four-way battle for Mizzou's starting quarterback job.
Jack Abraham is part of a four-way battle for Mizzou's starting quarterback job. (Tom Morris, LATechSportsPix.com)

It's an unconventional battle, simply for the number of candidates. Each of the four has something that could work in his favor. Cook has been at Missouri the longest and started the Tigers' last game, an Armed Forces Bowl loss to Army in December. Macon is a highly touted local recruit who has now been on campus for a year-and-a-half, has seen game action and has full knowledge of the system. Abraham will be 25 by the time the season starts and has seen just about everything there is to see in college football. Horn is the young phenom, the most heavily recruited of the four who has the most prototypical star quarterback size and pedigree.

For now, all are being given a shot. There are no official depth charts after a single practice, but Cook and Macon do at least start with an edge.

"In general from a knowledge standpoint, those are guys that have already taken a bunch of those reps," Mizzou quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan said. "I do think it's fair to say for Jack and for Sam, they're going to have to go take those reps."

That doesn't, of course, mean they can't be caught.

"I just got to go out there and play well," Abraham said. "Put the ball in the right spot, not throw it to the other team and move the ball down the field."

The question everyone wants to know is when will the decision be made?

"That's a great question," Hamdan said. "Anytime you're in year one with a quarterback, you just never know. It doesn't start for him until that first game to see how he reacts.

"Whether it's a month or two weeks before the first game when you name a guy, I don't know. I don't know if it really makes a difference."

Click here to take advantage of our free trial for the entire month of August
Click here to take advantage of our free trial for the entire month of August

The Missouri coaching staff certainly has a range of options. The room spans from an 18-year-old who has been through exactly one college practice to a 25-year-old married man who was a college quarterback before any of the rest were even in high school.

"There's a lot of different perspective in that room," Cook said. "You got old guys, young guys, guys that have been here for two years. We're all gelling together. There's just a lot of different perspective and it's a fun room."

The new toy is always the one that draws the attention. Horn will have plenty of that. Asked if it's realistic that a true freshman who showed up on campus in June could see the field, Hamdan said "absolutely."

"There's a high level of talent there," Drinkwitz said. "He's got arm talent, sees the field. He's just going to have to pick up the speed of the game, pick up the X's and O's."

Just minutes before talking about Horn, Drinkwitz was asked about Abraham and noted that there is no substitute for experience. Abraham has that in spades.

"Just because you know, still you have to execute," Drinkwitz said. "It's always going to come down to execution."

It is the story that will dominate every day for the next four weeks. What's it like for those involved in making the decision and those impacted by it?

"Exciting could be a word you could use," Hamdan said. "Excitement, stress, you know, it's all part of the profession."

"For me, it's business," Cook said. "It's a competition. You don't get opportunities like this very often."

Drinkwitz at one point Monday used the word invigorating. Ultimately, he's the one that will make the decision. But he isn't limiting himself. He may not even make a singular choice.

"My goal is to help us win," Drinkwitz said. "If we feel like in the first game we need to play multiple people at quarterback, that's what we'll do. If we feel like it will give us the best advantage to play with one quarterback, we'll play with one. We're not here to make everybody happy. This isn't happiness camp, it's not Club Med, this ain't participation trophy. It's about winning."

Regardless of how they get there and who leads them.

All of our fall camp coverage is brought to you by Quirk Hard Seltzer from Boulevard Brewing Company. Quirk Hard Seltzers are made with real fruit juice and ingredient-driven flavor combinations. Clean, high quality and gluten-free, Quirk is infinitely enjoyable and brimming with unpredictably individuality—it’s hard seltzer with more personality.