Eli Drinkwitz’s time with the Missouri Tigers has been described as inconsistent at best, but he and the rest of the Missouri coaching staff are optimistic that 2023 is the year things start to come together. With a new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in town, what does the Missouri Tigers coaching staff look like?
Missouri Tigers Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Eli Drinkwitz
Eli Drinkwitz was introduced as the University of Missouri’s 33rd head football coach in December of 2019. The 2023 campaign will mark his fourth at the helm of Mizzou and his fifth season as a head coach.
Drinkwitz advanced to bowl games in his first three seasons at Missouri, joining Warren Powers as the only two MU head coaches to achieve the feat. He is also just the sixth coach in program history to achieve 17-plus victories in the first three years of his tenure.
He took over the Missouri job after a 2019 season as the head coach of Appalachian State that saw the Mountaineers win the Sun Belt Conference title en route to a 12-1 record. They set a Sun Belt record with their 12 wins and also set the mark for the best regular season in conference history. They also claimed the Sun Belt Championship with a 45-38 win against Louisiana.
App State became the first-ever Sun Belt program to earn a top-20 ranking in the Associated Press poll, while also becoming the first team in league history to receive an in-season ranking in the College Football Playoff poll. The team also made history with a pair of Power 5 road wins, making his Mountaineers the first-ever Sun Belt team to register two Power 5 wins in a season.
Before App State, Drinkwitz was the offensive coordinator at NC State for three years from 2016-18. He guided QB Ryan Finley to three straight 3,000-yard seasons and three different 1,000-yard rushers.
Drinkwitz spent 2014 and 2015 at Boise State, serving as tight ends coach in 2014 before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2015. He helped Brett Rypien pass for over 3,000 yards in 2015 and guided Jeremy McNichols to 1,337 yards on the ground.
Additionally, he was a graduate assistant for the 2010 Auburn Tigers that went 14-0 and won the BCS Championship. After that, he helped Arkansas State win back-to-back Sun Belt championships as their running backs coach.
Drinkwitz has a 29-20 record as a head coach entering the 2023 season.
Defensive Coordinator/Safeties: Blake Baker
Baker joined the Missouri staff as safeties coach in 2022 but was quickly promoted to defensive coordinator a month after he was hired when Steve Wilks left to return to the NFL. He reunited with Drinkwitz, as the two coached together at Arkansas State the year prior.
Baker got his start in the college coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at Texas under the legendary Mack Brown. There, he spent time working with both the linebackers and defensive backs from 2010-2012.
During the 2013 season, he served as the safeties coach at Arkansas State before taking the same job at Louisiana Tech the next year. He became “La-Tech’s” defensive coordinator the year after and guided a defense that produced three NFL Draft picks, including a first-round pick in DT Vernon Butler.
Baker parlayed his success with the Bulldogs to become the defensive coordinator for Miami (FL) under head coach Manny Diaz. Baker coached five players into draft picks, including first-round picks Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau, before the staff was replaced. He spent the 2021 season as linebackers coach at LSU before taking the job at Mizzou.
Baker’s full coaching resume can be found below:
- Texas (Graduate Assistant Linebackers/Defensive Backs, 2010-12)
- Arkansas State (Safeties, 2013)
- Louisiana Tech (Safeties, 2014; Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2015-18)
- Miami (FL) (Defensive Coordinator, 2019-20)
- LSU (Linebackers, 2021)
- Missouri (Defensive Coordinator/Safeties, 2022-Present)
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks: Kirby Moore
The brother of NFL offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Kirby Moore has found his own success at the collegiate level. Moore played wide receiver at Boise State from 2009-13 and helped them establish themselves as one of the best programs in CFB over that time. He caught 115 passes over his career.
Moore transitioned into the coaching ranks as the wide receivers coach at the College of Idaho in 2014 before serving as a graduate assistant at Washington from 2015 and 2016. There, he was part of a Huskies team that went to the College Football Playoffs in 2016. The year after, he became the wide receivers coach at Fresno State.
With the Bulldogs, Moore coached receivers KeeSean Johnson, Jalen Moreno-Cropper, and Keric Wheatfall to productive seasons from 2017-2021. He added the passing game coordinator title in 2020 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2022.
With Moore as the offensive coordinator in 2022, they were second in the NCAA in completion percentage and led the Mountain West in scoring and total offense. QB Jake Haener finished among the nation’s best in terms of efficiency and yards per game and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Moore’s full coaching resume can be found here:
- College of Idaho (Wide Receivers, 2014)
- Washington (Graduate Assistant, 2015-16)
- Fresno State (Wide Receivers, 2017-2021; Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2022)
- Missouri (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2023)
Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends: Erik Link
Link was part of Drinkwitz’s initial Missouri staff after following him over from Appalachian State. He began his collegiate coaching career in 2004 as a defensive graduate assistant at Drake. In 2005, Link moved into the role of defensive line coach a year before joining the Iowa State staff in 2006.
From 2006-08, Link was a member of the Cyclones’ staff in a variety of roles, including as a graduate assistant, assistant director of football operations, and director of high school relations. In 2010, he served on Gene Chizik’s Auburn staff as a special teams quality control coach and helped lead them to the BCS National Championship after a perfect 14-0 season.
He spent two seasons as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Montana State where the Bobcats won two Big Sky Conference titles in 2011 and 2012. Link returned to Auburn under Gus Malzahn in 2013 and was part of an Auburn team that won the SEC and made an appearance in the BCS National Championship game.
After some time in the high school ranks in Des Moines, Link joined the Louisiana Tech staff as special teams coordinator in 2018 before joining Drinkwitz at App State in 2019.
Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers: D.J. Smith
A former sixth-round pick as a player at App State, Smith spent time from 2011-14 in the NFL before returning to Boonesville as a coach in various roles. Smith started as Director of High School Relations in 2016 before becoming an analyst on staff in 2017. He was promoted to serving as the outside linebackers coach in 2018, coaching two all-conference players, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Noel Cook.
Smith followed Drinkwitz from App State to Mizzou, where he coached Nick Bolton to All-SEC honors and a second-round selection. The coach’s linebackers have been a pivotal part of Missouri’s defensive success in the SEC.
Assistant Head Coach/Cornerbacks: Al Pogue
A long-time high school coach in Alabama, Pogue was also part of those early 2010s Auburn teams under Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn. After spending 2011-2013 on the Tigers’ staff in a variety of off-field roles, Pogue joined the Troy Trojans coaching staff as the cornerbacks coach.
He spent 2014-18 at Troy. From 2016-18, he coached the Trojans to allow just 20.8 points per game. During his four years there, the Trojans were second nationally among FBS schools in takeaways (106) and tied for seventh nationally with 63 interceptions.
Pogue spent the 2019 season as outside linebackers coach at West Virginia, coaching Josh Chandler to All-Big 12 and Tykee Smith to Freshman All-American honors. In 2020, he returned to Auburn in the same role and coached Zakoby McClain to All-SEC honors before going back to Troy as cornerbacks coach in 2021.
Running Backs: Curtis Luper
A 25-year veteran coach, Luper has been coaching running backs since the 1990s. Following his playing days at Oklahoma State and Stephen F. Austin, he coached running backs and defensive backs at SFA from 1995 to 1997. He then spent a year in the high school ranks before coaching DBs at Texas A&M-Commerce in 2001. Following, he was hired to coach running backs for New Mexico in 2002.
Luper spent the 2002-04 seasons with the Lobos before returning to Oklahoma State as their running backs coach. Three seasons in Stillwater rolled by before he took the same job at Auburn in 2009.
Luper coached RB Ben Tate as he rushed for 1,362 yards and was a Doak Walker Award semifinalist in his first year at Auburn. He also recruited and coached RB Michael Dyer to an Auburn freshman record 1,093 rushing yards and Offensive MVP honors in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. Dyer was a 2010 Freshman All-SEC selection and second-team Freshman All-American.
Prior to his arrival in Missouri, Luper spent seven seasons at TCU from 2013 to 2019, including the final three as co-offensive coordinator, running backs coach, and recruiting coordinator. He initially joined the Horned Frogs’ coaching staff as wide receivers coach in 2013 before moving over to running backs in 2014.
Under his rule at Missouri, the Tigers have produced some of their most decorated runners in Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie. Rountree ranks first all-time at Missouri in rushing yards and second in rushing TDs. Badie’s 18 touchdowns in 2021 are tied for the third-most in a single season at Mizzou. His 2,740 career rushing yards rank seventh in Mizzou history, while his 23 rushing touchdowns stand ninth all-time.
Wide Receivers: Jacob Peeler
A former offensive lineman, Peeler started on staff at his alma mater Louisiana Tech before becoming a graduate assistant at Cal in 2013. After two years in that role, he was promoted to inside receivers coach in 2015. Peeler was hired as a full-time wide receivers coach at Ole Miss in 2017.
While coaching for the Rebels, he coached DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Elijah Moore, and DaMarkus Lodge to multiple successful seasons. Metcalf, Brown, and Moore were all second-round picks in their respective NFL drafts.
Peeler’s success at Ole Miss helped land him the offensive coordinator job at Texas State in 2020. In his two seasons at Texas State, the Bobcats produced eight offensive All-Sun Belt Conference. Most recently, he joined the Missouri coaching staff in 2022.
Offensive Line: Brandon Jones
Jones is one of the most accomplished offensive line coaches in college football. After a successful career at Texas Tech as a center, he served as an assistant coach on those 2007 and 2008 Red Raiders squads that went 20-6 under Mike Leach and were some of the nation’s best offenses those years.
He then took a job coaching running backs and tight ends at Sam Houston State in 2009 before becoming the offensive line coach at East Carolina in 2010. Jones was Lincoln Riley’s offensive line coach from 2010-2014 at ECU before becoming the offensive line coach/run game coordinator at Cal under Sonny Dykes.
Jones returned to Texas Tech in 2017 under Kliff Kingsbury and spent two seasons with the Red Raiders before Kingsbury was fired. Following this, Jones coached the offensive line at Houston from 2019-22 before taking the Missouri job in 2023.
Over his career, Jones has coached six NFL players, including Josh Jones, Patrick Mekari, and Terence Steele with another on the way in Patrick Paul.
Interior Defensive Line: Al Davis
A former team captain at Arkansas, Davis played 49 games for the Razorbacks from 2009-12. He spent time in the high school ranks after his playing days before becoming a graduate assistant at Arkansas in 2014. Davis spent 2014-16 at Arkansas before being hired at Hutchinson Community College, where he worked his way up to associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator.
He spent three years at Hutchinson before taking the defensive line coach job at Illinois in 2020. Davis joined the Missouri coaching staff in 2021.
Defensive Line-Edge: Kevin Peoples
A longtime defensive line coach, Peoples has been coaching since the mid-1990s. From 1993 to 2001, Peoples coached defensive lines and special teams at Carroll College, Blinn College, Northwestern State, Central Missouri, Northern Arizona, and for the original XFL’s Las Vegas Outlaws before taking a job at Arkansas State in 2002.
Peoples developed 11 All-Sun Belt Conference selections in his eight years at Arkansas State from 2002 to 2010. He then joined the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2010 as their Director of High School Relations before becoming defensive line coach in 2011. Peoples bounced around from UAB to Georgia Southern, Tulane, and Indiana before joining the Missouri coaching staff in 2022.
He has coached numerous NFL players during his time at Tulane and Indiana, such as Ade Aruna, Jerome Johnson, Cam Sample, Tanzel Smart, and Patrick Johnson.