Chat Mizzou sports with Dave Matter at 11 a.m. Thursday

Chat Mizzou sports with Dave Matter at 11 a.m. Thursday

Bring your Tigers football, basketball and recruiting questions, and talk to Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter in a live chat at 11 a.m. Thursday.

    Good (late) morning, Mizzou chatters. Busy, busy day. Already recorded this week's podcast. Have lots of more writing to get done, some traveling tomorrow. Let's get this started. I'll be here for the next couple hours.
    Coach drinkwitz seems very willing to give big playing time to freshman, although I guess it could’ve been due to limited roster numbers. Do you think any incoming freshmen could have impact roles on next year’s team?
    I don't necessarily agree that he's been willing to play freshmen. Here are the season snap counts for the true freshmen for the offense and defense - not counting special teams:
    CB Ennis Rakestraw: 480. He's been a starter all season
    CB JC Carlies: 216. He has become a starter because of injuries.
    OL Dylan Spencer: 143. He has since transferred
    Then it's a huge dropoff
    WR Chance Luper: 21
    RB Elijah Young: 21
    QB Brady Cook: 20
    WR Jay Maclin: 12
    WR Kris-Abrams Draine: 8
    C/DT Drake Heismeyer: 8
    LB Will Norris: 1
    So, really, MU is playing the two freshman corners and the only other freshmen have gotten very minimal spot-time duty. Harrison Mevis is obviously a freshman, but he was recruited to play this year all along.
    Yes, I would expect some incoming freshmen to play. Dominic Lovett at receiver. The running backs should have a chance to play right away in some kind of capacity. Defensive back is wide open for newcomers. 
    Missouri has had an unexpectedly good football season. It would be a shame if it was marred by a loss to a two-win Mississippi State team this Saturday. Is the Tigers' secondary up to the task of controlling the MS passing attack?
    The Tigers HAVE to tackle well in space. They HAVE to get some pressure on Will Rogers. As Nick Bolton said this week, they HAVE to get stops on first down and limit the short passes so they can set up second-and-long and third-and-long. Mizzou's DBs are going to be on islands - unless Mizzou suddenly goes to a zone scheme and that seems a little unlikely 10 games into the season.
    What's the plan at D tackle next year? As far as I can tell, Darius Robinson is the only returning DT on the roster. Do you think some of the seniors will come back or will Heismeyer officially switch positions? I like the Realus George commit and I'm sure Mekhi Wingo can develop into a good player, but George has never played DT in college and hasn't played at all this season. It's probably unfair to expect Wingo to come in at make an impact, especially with his size. Losing Bolton and all the tackles seems to make the middle of our D pretty vulnerable.
    Drinkwitz said yesterday that some of the senior D-linemen will return. I expect Kobie Whiteside to be among them. We'll see who else returns. Mizzou plays a unique defensive front. It's essentially a "Bear" front: three bigger linemen in three-point stances lined up directly across from the guards and center and then a stand-up defensive end pass-rusher. Coming back next year, you've got Robinson and McGuire and (possibly) Whiteside. Hansford and Jeffcoat also return to play the stand-up edge position. Ben Key could earn a job at the three interior spots. Maybe the two junior college additions, too, Robledo and George. You get another senior to return and the depth could be OK.
    I saw the big flip/win of getting Arden Walker yesterday. That's not usually a player I would expect Mizzou to get (not a traditional recruiting area for Mizzou, had ties to the local school, recruited by a "name school" in the conference footprint where he lives). Were there any expected signings yesterday that didn't come through?
  • Walker had the strong family tie to Ryan Walters and told me he had been leaning toward Mizzou all along but wanted to go through the entire process to consider Colorado and UCLA. Good 11th-hour pickup for Mizzou.
    Two players who were verbally committed did not sign tomorrow. Here's what I've gathered: Running back BJ Harris will absolutely sign with Missouri eventually, maybe at the February date. Mizzou will stay on junior college defensive end Shemar Pearl, but he's not in position to sign at this time. Remember, Pearl had been committed to MU coming out of high school but needed junior college to secure his eligibility. If he can qualify Mizzou would still take him.
  • Do the Tigers have enough healthy players for the Miss. St. game?
    The head coach says yes. But it's a good thing they're not playing a team that's going to attempt to run the ball. MU is thin on D-linemen.
    What will happen to the non-conference football games Mizzou cancelled this year? Will they be rescheduled for future years or not?
    Mizzou had been in negotiations with them. I'm not certain there's been closure yet on all four games. MU was hoping to reschedule one of them down the road - way down the road.
    Was there a mismatch between the GA offensive line and mizzou defensive line and the GA defensive line and the Mizzou offensive line that explains the difference between the 316 yards rushing and !Mizzou’s 22 yards rushing in Saturday’s game ? I took a short look at the GA roster and found offensive linemen weighing 325 to 350 pounds. Does that account for the huge discrepancy in rushing yards between the 2 teams?
  • Yes, it was a major mismatch in the trenches. Georgia rarely brought extra pressure and still engulfed Mizzou's offensive line most of the day. The running backs had no room to run past the line of scrimmage. 
    On the flip side, Mizzou's defensive front couldn't get off blocks or plug their gaps to slow down UGA's running game. It was an impressive showing for Georgia and further exposed some of MU's deficiencies.
  • Mizzou was 10th in Men's BB preseason. Did you have a vote? If so, did you reveal your ballot?
    Yes, I voted. I had Mizzou either sixth or seventh. Still a lot of season to play. Some SEC teams haven't been tested yet. Some have looked less than impressive for sure. MU has the best credentials so far. I still think Tennessee is the best team in the league.
  • What is the deal with the two guys that didn't sign (BJ Harris and one other)? Should we worried? Harris looks like a steal out of UT's backyard.
    Just touched on that earlier. Mizzou fully expects to have Harris in this class. Patience.
    I don't know if this is accurate (you'd have a much better idea) but I sense that there is more baggage - on average - in taking on 5-star, one-and-done players in basketball than there is in take 5-star (can't-be-one-and-done-by-rule) football players ... is that part of why Counzo doesn't seem as interested in the highest-rated players vs. football coaches (including Drink)?
    That's a bit of a generalization but probably mostly accurate. The five-star basketball players have been on high-profile AAU teams and in some cases have already become teenage celebrities. They also are counting on being in the NBA a year after their senior prom. There's going to be some entitlement with some of those players. Not all, but some. In football, even the most highly touted prospects still know they have to spend two and a half years on a college campus. Trevor Lawrence was every bit the football prospect as Zion Williamson was a basketball prospect, but Lawrence knew he'd have to spend 30 months on Clemson's campus. So that creates a different dynamic, a different approach. Also, football is more of a team-oriented game. You can be a five-star quarterback or five-star offensive tackle or five-star linebacker ... and your team's success can still come down to the walk-on kicker. That's not the case in basketball where the world revolves around the star player more so than football. 
    As for Cuonzo, he just doesn't  have the appetite to deal with a lot of the headaches that come along with recruiting and coaching some five-star players - for all the reasons I just mentioned. The Michael Porter Jr. saga was complicated - and it took away from some of the joy Martin and that team should have had during a 20-win, NCAA Tournament season. 
    Good to see MU get a top 20 recruiting class even if it was 20th. However, this was only the 8th recruiting class of SEC teams. 4 teams that beat MU were ranked above MU also beat them on the field in 2020. They didn’t play TXAM or Ole Miss. They did beat LSU which had the number 3 ranked class. This year’s recruiting class is a good start being HCED’s first recruiting class. I hope he is successful in sealing the borders in future years which would lead to more on the field success against the teams that are currently having more success in recruiting.
    Hard to find any fault with Drinkwitz for this class. He got eight in-state players and with the few who went elsewhere Mizzou never seemed to have much traction in their recruiting. Don't forget, the staff inherited the NCAA recruiting restrictions. They went weeks without being able to contact their recruits. 
    Still, Mizzou's average class ranking the last five years was 45 - and this class ranked 25 spots higher. This year's class was 34 spots higher than last year's class. Hard to nitpick with that kind of sudden improvement.
    Mizzou signed a higher-ranked class than a lot of programs that have had more recent success on the field:
    Michigan State, Auburn, Iowa, Penn State, Washington, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kentucky.
    This class was a smashing success - on signing day. We'll have a better perspective in a few years. 
    Coach Martin said in his Monday prees conference that he is unconcerned about where his team is ranked in the polls, but was glad that his players are receiving recognition for their efforts one of which was “spending 20 hours on a bus”. I had always assumed that
    Mizzou flew everywhere especially to Columbia SC, Athens GA and Gainesvill FL which are the furthest away from COMO. The only place I expected a bus trip for the Tigers would be to Fayetteville Arkansas. What 20 hour bus trip was Coach Martin referring to?
    Mizzou took a bus to Omaha for the Oregon game and took a bus to Wichita State. Normally they would fly to those games, but under COVID protocols they're driving to the games that aren't terribly far away.
    Each of those trips was five hours one way, so he's adding up all four drives to get to 20 hours.
    It's still early, but assuming this is an NCAA tournament season for Men's BB then what does that mean and what are the other factors that would lead to a new contract for Cuonzo after next season? The general assumption is that 21/22 will be a rebuilding year; does Cuonzo need to have success next year to get a renewal?
  • He's still working on a seven-year deal, which means he'd have three years left on that contract at the end of this season. Maybe you extend a year or two, but having three years left doesn't exactly make him a lame duck. I don't see him leveraging a major raise, knowing that the athletics department is taking a major financial hit this year because of the pandemic. He'll be conscious and sensitive to that. But if this proves to be an NCAA Tournament team that finishes in the top four of the SEC, I could see Sterk giving him some extra years - so he's at least got four years left on the deal. That way you can sell to recruits that you're under contract through their career.
  • I think I saw Drink say that there was still room for to maybe five more players in this class. Would expect these to be transfers and JUCO players, or are there still some targets out there that haven't signed yet?
    They'll keep an eye on the transfer market for sure. Remember, they didn't add Maieitt, Chism, Hazelton and McKinniss until well after signing day last year. I think they could use some older players in the secondary, maybe at receiver and possibly along the offensive line. But you can't always count on transfers because you never know what's available in the market.
    I just heard Danny Heiterton Cusamano’s show mention Demetrius Mason in a comparison with Lovett the WR signed yesterday from E.StL. Mason left MU after a strong freshman year. Where did he transfer, or did he?
    Mason didn't land anywhere to my knowledge. He clashed with the coaches while at Mizzou, to put it lightly.
    We have now seen enough of Conner Bazelak to begin to get a sense of him and his potential. To me, he seems to be plenty accurate (though that can always improve) and his arm strength - though not elite like Drew Lock's, seems above average, too. So, my question is, do you sense he has the tools to become elite - as one, perhaps the best QB (or top 2) in the SEC, top 5 or so in the country? I get that he's young but in watching games, he does seem to lock in on a receiver/route sometimes. I don't know if you've gotten any sense from Drink if he reads defenses well and makes good, quick decisions.
    Yes, I think he can be one of the best in the SEC. He's got the accuracy. He's got the intelligence, maturity, arm strength, toughness. Everything you look for. 
    He doesn't have the TD passes this year, and I asked him about this week, and it's mostly circumstantial. Mizzou's had a lot of receivers get tackled inside the 5-yard line this year - and the running backs capitalized with short-yardage TDs. What Bazelak really needs is some explosive, dynamic receivers. He's got a team of possession receivers right now. Not a lot of guys who are going to get yards after the catch. Surround him with more elite talent and I think you'll see his production soar. 
    Happy Holidays Dave to you and the MIZZOU family!

    When Coach gets the kind of production from Pickett, Mitch Smith and Bugsy off the bench, we are a very solid team.

    I cannot say enough about Javon's resurgence in 2020 year. He brings that small forward void the team sometimes misses. He's able to mix it up around the rim and create second chance opportunities.

    Talk to me.
    Pickett is the players some fans love to commiserate over because they nitpick him for what he's not instead of appreciating what he is. He's a slasher. He's a big, physical wing who's a challenge to guard over the course of a game for a smaller, weaker guard. He attacks the paint. He's a selfless teammate. He's the quintessential Cuonzo player. 
    Mitchell Smith brings this team a lot, too. He's got zero interest in scoring points. He'll rebound. He'll defend centers who outweigh him by 50 points. He'll take charges all day long. On his radio show Monday, Cuonzo said of Smith, "He wasn't good (against Illinois.) He was special." 
    Those two guys are a major reason Mizzou won that game Saturday. Illinois' two best players - Ayo and Kofi - are better than Mizzou's best players on most nights, maybe every night. But Martin had the better team for 40 minutes, the deeper bench, the more productive supporting cast. 
    Ndoma-Ogar has 4 years of eligibility but is he available next year? What happens with the volleyball season? NCAA tourney next spring?
  • Ndoma-Ogar is eligible next year. He appeared in four games for Oklahoma in 2019, which means it didn't count against his eligibility. This year doesn't count as eligibility for anyone - and because he didn't play for the Sooners, the 2020 season does count as his sit-out year. So he'll come to Mizzou with four years of eligibility.
    The postseasons for the fall teams (volleyball, soccer, etc.) resume in the spring. 
  • Why did Cockburn's basket count after the Flagrant 1?
    Cuonzo hasn't met with the media this week, but on his radio show Monday he said he was told the basket was ruled to be part of the play, so the points were not waived off. I've been meaning to dig into the rulebook to see why they made that decision. Maybe by the end of this chat.
    Jon Sunvold on the Illinois-Mizzoue telecast picked MUBB to finish third in the SEC standing. You picked them to finish 7th. Both are well above the SEC media poll that has them finishing 10th. I originally thought your pick of 7th was too high, based on what I have seen so far maybe they can finish 7th and be in the running for a NCAA bid. With Kentucky experiencing early season problems a tournament bid may be in reach. Finishing 3rd seems overly optimistic and would require winning home games againsr team ahead of them starting with the first SEC home game vs Tennessee.
    Do you think the Tigers can finish 3rd in the SEC?
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