The Eli Drinkwitz era at Missouri will begin a week from Saturday night with a visit from perennial national powerhouse Alabama that will be televised by ESPN.
It's a matchup that was added when the Southeastern Conference adjusted its 2020 football schedule to 10 league games, and it's a pairing that has become even tougher for the Tigers. Drinkwitz announced Wednesday that 12 of his players would miss the opener due to "COVID-related situations."
Alabama counterpart Nick Saban said the Crimson Tide continue to fare much better on that front.
"We don't really have anybody who I know would be out for sure for the game," Saban said Wednesday night on a Zoom call. "We may have some injured players who may not recover enough to be able to play."
When asked if he would be revealing coronavirus-related absences throughout the season like Drinkwitz did, Saban said, "I don't know which 12 players Missouri has out, so I don't know how that affects what we do." Drinkwitz did not mention any sidelined players by name, with the 12 cases a mix of positive tests and contact tracing.
Alabama has upped its coronavirus testing from three days a week to every day this week.
"We just thought that it gives the players a better peace of mind," Saban said. "It's the best thing for the players. It's the best thing for the program. We have the capabilities and the resources to do it, and we're happy to do it."
The biggest absence for the Tide right now is defensive lineman Christian Barmore, who is dealing with a minor knee injury. Saban is hopeful the redshirt sophomore can do some things in Monday's practice but said it was too early to tell whether he can play the opener.
Alabama began preparations for the Tigers on Wednesday and will continue Thursday before taking Friday through Sunday off.
"That's something that the players have to get in their sights, that we have a game coming up," Saban said. "We're not just practicing to practice, and they've got to change their mindset."
Saban was asked Wednesday about players buying in to all aspects of the program and responded by saying that the younger members on the roster naturally take a little longer.
"We just had some NFL guy talk to our team and told all the freshmen that the NFL is already monitoring your Twitter," Saban said. "When you post, they're making some kind of judgment of what you post and what you do."
Sophomore safety Jordan Battle apparently flourished last Saturday during the team's second preseason scrimmage inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saban said Battle caused a fumble, recovered a fumble and had the highest point production on the team.