Roster review: Quarterbacks
Since the 2019 football season ended, a lot has changed for the Missouri football program. The Tigers fired head coach Barry Odom on Nov. 30 and 10 days later announce the hire of Eliah Drinkwitz. Drinkwitz had just eight days to salvage a class for the early signing period, all while slowly piecing together his staff of assistants. Drinkwitz appears to have the defensive side of the ball set, but will hire two more offensive assistants.
Now that the dust has finally begun to settle, it's time to take a look back at the 6-6 season. In this series, we will go position-by-position to evaluate the performance in 2019 and the pieces In place for 2020. We start with the quarterbacks.
Expectations were high for Missouri's offense as a whole and especially Kelly Bryant entering 2019. The Clemson graduate transfer started the year well, but a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness derailed the offense midway through the season and Bryant could never get back on track. Bryant averaged 294.5 passing yards per game and threw 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in the first six games of the season. He missed two of the final six due to Injury, but when he did play, threw for just 160 yards per game and three touchdowns versus two picks. Taylor Powell served as Bryant's primary backup and struggled at Georgia, albeit in a brutal environment. He completed 46.8 percent of his passes on the season for two touchdowns and three interceptions. True freshman Connor Bazelak also saw some action, starting in the season finale against Arkansas, and showed some promise, though he tore his ACL in the game.
Departing: Kelly Bryant
Returning: Taylor Powell, Connor Bazelak, Shawn Robinson
For the first time in at least five years, Missouri will have a quarterback competition during the offseason. Powell has spent the most time at the school, although that admittedly shouldn't mean much with Drinkwitz installing a new offensive system. Robinson, a former high school All-American, struggled with ball security at TCU but drew impressive reviews from the coaching staff while he sat out last season. Bazelak showed an impressive arm against Arkansas, but it's not yet known how long his ACL injury will keep him off the field or how that will impact his progression.
Incoming: Brady Cook
The St. Louis product signed with Missouri last week after being committed to the Tigers for more than a year. He plans to enroll In January and participate in spring practices, so that could give him a shot at competing for the starting job as well, but it's probably more likely that Cook redshirts this season as he adjusts to the college level.
Projected 2019 starter: Shawn Robinson
If we had to pick a starter today, it would be Robinson, who will reunite with former TCU co-offensive coordinator Curtis Luper at Missouri. Robinson presents both a running and passing threat, like quarterback Zac Taylor at Appalachian State, and he clearly has talent. The question Is whether he can shake the accuracy issues that plagued him at TCU, where he threw eight interceptions in seven games in 2018.
Offseason storylines to monitor:
Aside from the obvious, such as who will win the starting quarterback job and whether any of the returners will transfer, it will be interesting to see how Drinkwitz designs his offensive system and whether it is more conducive to a dual-threat quarterback or a pocket passer. Drinkwitz has coached both in the past; at NC State, his quarterback was pro-style passer Ryan Finley, who currently plays for the Cincinnati Bengals. If Drinkwitz wants to continue to direct an offense most similar to the one he ran at Appalachian State, Robinson would seem the most logical starter. Robinson could also be in the mix if the offense is designed more to keep the quarterback in the pocket — he has a big arm and his athleticism could simply be used to escape — but such a scheme would also figure to give Bazelak a chance at winning the starting job, assuming he is back to full health by fall camp.