Missouri’s trip home from Lexington, Kentucky,on Saturday was not a fun one.
The visitors locker room at Kroger Field was quiet after the Tigers’ 35-28 loss to Kentucky, which led to a “ticked off” bus ride to the airport, coach Eliah Drinkwitz said.
Missouri’s Sunday practice wasn’t particularly enjoyable either, with few smiling faces on the field. It was how Drinkwitz wanted it. The frustration showed that his team cares, and that it’s not content to settle for coming close to beating a solid conference opponent on the road.
“This team’s invested,” he said. “They’re trying really hard to do what we ask them to do. We’re still not getting the results that we want. You gotta grow. You can’t grow weary while doing good. So we’re going to see the result, we’re going to see the harvest, we’re going to get there.”
The focus is now on Southeast Missouri State as Drinkwitz and Missouri try to put Kentucky behind them, even as questions raised by the Tigers’ performance linger.
“We lost, but all is not lost,” Drinkwitz said. “We lost a game, but we have 10 games left, and how you move on from that loss determines the future of what we’re trying to accomplish. ... You either gotta watch more film and be more prepared or you’ve got to practice better and have better practice habits. And so that’s what we gotta go do if we want to get this bad taste out of our mouths.”
The upcoming game does provide an ideal opportunity to get that bad taste out of Missouri’s collective mouth, even if there’s little long-term value beyond it. SEMO plays in the Ohio Valley Conference. The last time the Redhawks came to Columbia was in 2019 when they lost 50-0, so some of the Tigers’ unknowns can’t be answered in the next week.
Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. gashed Missouri for 206 rushing yards Saturday as the Wildcats’ offensive line had its way with the Tigers. The line rebounding would be welcome for Missouri, but to do so against an FCS team wouldn’t give much of an indication of how it has progressed.
So, any lessons learned this upcoming weekend will be more micro than macro. Who plays could be an indication of what’s to come. The depth chart is unchanged from Week 1, but Drinkwitz said he doesn’t know who’s going to see action until Wednesday of any given week. Ten defensive linemen played against Kentucky. Saturday will show how many continue to get snaps.
After SEMO, Missouri plays Boston College. Its next SEC game isn’t until Oct. 2 against Tennessee. That’s 21 days between conference tests.
“This isn’t microwave all of a sudden you’re SEC East champions or you’re competing for the SEC East. It’s not Miracle-Gro,” Drinkwitz said. “You can say all the right things, you can outwardly be doing all the right things, but it’s still a growth process. No different than planting a flower or you plant corn. My father-in-law’s a farmer. You’ve got to sow and you’ve got to water the ground and you’ve got to tear up weeds, you’ve got to battle heat and all kinds of stuff and then you’ll reap the reward.”