By Matt McFarland
Missouri football has its man: Appalachian State’s Eliah Drinkwitz. The team introduced the 36-year old as the 33rd head football coach in program history in a press conference Tuesday morning.
When asked about his expectations for Missouri football in 2020, Drinkwitz responded with a resounding quote to a crowd packed with fans, donors, and players alike.
“I don’t live in realistic expectations; I shoot for the moon, Drinkwitz said.”
This, along with many other statements from the first-year head coach kept the audience captivated. An opening statement that lasted over nine minutes and a press conferences that nearly spanned an hour left no doubt to anyone in attendance that Jim Sterk’s words were spot on.
After a strenuous coaching search, during which many disgruntled Tiger fans called for a change of Athletic Director, Drinkwitz seems to check all the boxes. A gifted speaker with a magnetic personality, he was introduced unrivaled fan fare as Marching Mizzou played him in to a thunderous round of applause.
Every part of the Mizzou system seemed pleased with the hire, including UM system president Mun Choi as well as Chancellor Alexander Cartwright, who each expressed a vote of confidence in their coach. Cartwright recounted his conversation with Drinkwitz, calling new hire a gifted leader, as well as a “true tiger.”
Choi promised Drinkwitz a long and successful tenure, expressing faith that Coach Eli had the ability to help his players grow. The eccentric president was called “a hard man to say no to” by Drinkwitz; he also expressed that Drinkwitz was now a “Tiger for Life.”
Drinkwitz has prior experience as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina State from 2016-18, and is known as an offensive-first coach. He runs a pro-tempo no huddle style offense, driven by powerful, downhill running and an explosive, vertical passing game. The new coach also revealed he would be the offensive play caller and primary offensive coordinator, likely meaning the end of Derek Dooley as Mizzou’s offensive coordinator, a welcome change for many Tiger fans.
VIDEO: Coach Drinkwitz introductory press conference highlights
Drinkwitz said he would rely on a quarterback driven offense. He worked with Cam Newton at Auburn as his quarterbacks coach in his Heisman Trophy-winning 2011 season. When asked what an ideal quarterback would be for his system, he outlined mental prototype, rather than a physical one.
“I look for five characteristics in a quarterback, toughness, preparation, decision-making, accuracy, and leadership,” Drinkwitz said. “leaders come in all shapes and sizes, just like quarterbacks come in all shapes and sizes. If someone has all those characteristics, they can play quarterback for me.”
On the defensive side, Drinkwitz said he looks for his defense to stop the run and “make teams play to their deficiencies, and said his defense will “bring pressure on opposing quarterbacks whenever possible.”
With 2019 defensive coordinator Ryan Walters and defensive line coach Brick Haley in attendance at the press conference, it seems likely the talented defensive coordinator will return, although Drinkwitz didn’t let any decisions on coaching staff hires slip, instead insisting that he was determined to hit the recruiting trails immediately. Overall the hire seems to have made the Tigers fanbase very happy, with AD Jim Sterk himself saying that the fans and donors were heard, and had an influence in the hiring of the young mind.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org