COLUMBIA- The Mizzou football team is pushing to the finish of the 2020 college football season as the Tigers prepare for Saturday's finale at Mississippi State. Mizzou's depth has been tested in recent weeks as a combination of transfers, opt-outs and COVID contact tracing have forced the Tigers to play with significantly fewer players than normal.
Early in the week head coach Eliah Drinkwitz estimated his team would have 56 scholarship players available on Saturday. Thursday night on his weekly radio show Drinkwitz said that number could be as low as 54 or 55.
"You know we've played, pretty much since South Carolina, in the 50's," said Drinkwitz on Tuesday, referring to the number of scholarship players Mizzou has had available for its last three games.
"That's not precedented. I don't think that's how this sport's designed, especially at this level."
Drinkwitz was confident his team will rally despite a grueling season as the Tigers fight for a sixth win to finish over the .500 mark.
"We're gonna bounce back. We're gonna have good energy. We want to finish. It's important for us to finish."
"It's definitely been a grind," added grad transfer wide receiver Keke Chism. "It's been a challenge. But I mean, the biggest thing is just locking in on a focus."
2020 has certainly not gone the way Drinkwitz thought it would when he took the job just over a year ago. The pandemic has presented obstacles and problems that no coach would have ever imagined. Drinkwitz is quick to remind others, and himself, that overcoming those challenges is all part of the job.
"This is what we all signed up for," said Drinkwitz. "I remind people all the time that I'm living the dream but you've got to remind yourself that this is all part of the dream."
"The dream is not just winning on Saturdays. It's like, living the dream means you're going through the crud that you've got to go through. That's part of the dream."
Mizzou wraps up the regular season on Saturday at 2:30 pm CT at Mississippi State. Bowl match-ups should be announced throughout the day on Sunday.