football Edit

Drinkwitz tabs Bazelak to start at QB

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Where Missouri will play LSU on Saturday, or whether the two teams will play at all, is still up in the air (more on that shortly). But for the first time this season, we do know who will start at quarterback whenever and wherever the Tigers next take the field.

Head coach Eli Drinkwitz named Connor Bazelak the team’s starting quarterback during his weekly press conference Tuesday. The redshirt freshman played the final three quarters against Tennessee after taking over for TCU transfer Shawn Robinson, who started each of the team’s first two games of the season. Bazelak provided a spark to a sluggish offense, leading all three of Missouri’s scoring drives. He finished the game 13-21 for 218 yards and an interception.

“I thought he handled the situation well,” Drinkwitz said of Bazelak’s performance. “He got in, he moved the ball offensively, he moved the ball on third downs. He made good decisions in the pocket. There's been some things that he missed and some things that he's got to improve on. But I just felt like he handled the situation well and he gave us a chance, and we're gonna stick with him.”

Connor Bazelak will start at quarterback against LSU, head coach Eli Drinkwitz announced Tuesday.
Connor Bazelak will start at quarterback against LSU, head coach Eli Drinkwitz announced Tuesday. (Mizzou Athletics)

On the season, Bazelak has completed 20 of 35 passes for 286 yards. He ran for a touchdown on the final play against Alabama. Bazelak has started one previous game in his college career: last year’s season-finale against Arkansas. He left the game in the second quarter with a torn ACL.

Bazelak recovered from the injury in time to compete against Robinson for the starting job during fall camp, a competition that ultimately bled over into the regular season. Prior to each of Missouri’s first two games of the season, Bazelak and Robinson had been listed as co-starters. The coaching staff inserted Bazelak into the game for a drive during the second quarter of each game. Against Alabama, Robinson came back in afterward and played the vast majority of the snaps. Saturday, Bazelak did enough to stay in for the remainder of the game. Drinkwitz did not disclose whether Robinson would still see game action now that he’s listed as the backup.

“There's going to be plays for Shawn, there's going to be situations, but I'm not going to give everybody the competitive advantage and tell you how we're going to use every player,” he said when asked about Robinson’s role. “He's a quarterback on our football team. We're excited about Shawn Rob. Just because we're going with Connor doesn't mean I have a negative connotation or he didn't do what he was supposed to do. We're just going with Connor.”

Drinkwitz said Bazelak did “some nice things” against Tennessee, but he also pointed out some room for improvement. He said Bazelak “missed a couple reads that really have to be made,” and while he said Bazelak doesn’t deserve all the blame for his fourth-quarter interception, “ultimately, the quarterbacks’ the one with the ball in his hands.”

“I thought he made a couple of good throws down the field,” Drinkwitz said. “I think he hit Dame Hazleton on a corner route, on a nine ball. He threw a really nice ball to Tyler Badie that was caught down the sideline. He did some nice things. We were still under 60 percent completion, we didn’t throw a touchdown, so there’s still a lot of work to be done. Not sure that's going to open anything up until we throw some touchdowns, until we're more consistent scoring points.”

Officials considering relocation

With Hurricane Delta gaining strength and still being forecast to hit Louisiana on Saturday morning, school officials from both LSU and Missouri have discussed the possibility of moving this weekend’s game to Columbia, PowerMizzou reported Tuesday morning. As of Tuesday afternoon, the game is still scheduled to be played in Baton Rouge, with kickoff at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

The storm was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane by the National Weather Service Tuesday morning. LSU released a statement Tuesday that read, in part: “We are closely monitoring Hurricane Delta and are in close communication with SEC and University of Missouri Athletics officials on contingency plans should they become necessary. At this time, it is too early to make a determination on any impact the storm may have on Saturday’s football game against Missouri.”

Sources have indicated that a decision about where the game will be played would have to come by Thursday. If the game is postponed, it could be made up Nov. 7, when both LSU and Missouri are scheduled to have bye weeks, or Dec. 12, when every SEC team is idle.

Asked about a possible postponement Tuesday, Drinkwitz said he’s still operating under the assumption that the game will be played in Baton Rouge, as previously scheduled.

“I'm operating with the sense that we're going down to play a football game on Saturday at 8, because I haven't been told anything different,” he said. “So, that as of right now is the plan until I'm told that we're doing something differently.”