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.

    If you thought we'd skip the chat this week just because Mizzou has an unexpected bye week, you thought wrong. I'll be here for the next two hours to take all your Mizzou questions or anything else interesting that comes up.
    Make sure you give this week's Eye on the Tigers podcast a listen and please subscribe and leave comments. 

    Eye On The Tigers Podcast: Mizzou stuns LSU, then gets surprised by Vanderbilt

    Tigers first-year coach Eli Drinkwitz's signature win against defending champion LSU was still fresh when the team found out its next game against Vanderbilt was postponed due to the Commodores' COVID situation. In this edition of the Eye On The Tigers Podcast, Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter and sports columnist Ben Frederickson share their final thoughts on Saturday's upset and discuss if there could be a silver lining to the Vanderbilt curveball the Tigers have encountered.​
    Any indication on the severity of the injury to Robinson?. I believe he only was on the field for one play before exiting.
    All Drinkwitz said was someone rolled up on his ankle. I didn't get the sense from his comment that it was a serious injury. But he made it clear that the game plan called for Robinson to have more than one play in the game. I imagine he'll have a role going forward assuming the injury doesn't keep him sidelined further.
    How much pressure does the two new senior wide receivers feel now after the great performance from the back ups? Nice problem developing in terms of depth for the Tigers.
    I don't see how you can't open up the competition in practice and give the playmakers from the LSU game a fair chance to earn more snaps in the next game against ... Florida ... Vanderbilt ... ???? Drinkwitz did a nice job scheming ways to get those receivers open against LSU with motion, shifts and bunch formations. That's how you beat press coverage, identifying the coverage pre-snap then creating some confusion with formations to give those receivers a free release. But the wideouts definitely deserve credit for cleanly catching the ball, moving the chains and picking up yards after contact. I don't think Chism and Hazelton immediately become afterthoughts, but they won't just be handed 60 snaps a game after what those other receivers did on Saturday. Here's how Drinkwitz answered this question on Tuesday: "Always compete. Whoever gives us the best chance to win is gonna play."
    I have to admit that I was nervous having a true freshman kicker in place to start the season. Do you think having virtually empty stadiums helped him with the nerves?. Is the kid excitable or does he have an unflappable personality?
    Harrison Mevis seems pretty cool and calm. I'm not sure big moments on bigger stages will rattle him. He hasn't met any reporters in person and only talked to us via Zoom, but just based on his performance in three games it's fair to say he's got nerves of steel. (Bennett Durando did a great job capturing his personality and background in last Friday's story.) Now, will he look more mortal on the road with 100K fans going bananas at a place like Georgia or Tennessee? Maybe. But based on what we've seen from the kid, he's not going to let those environments throw him off.
    How many games would have to be in need of rescheduling to result in a cancellation of the 2020 football season? And is it possible that one or more teams have their season terminated and the remainder of the conference continue to a conclusion? Are there multiple make up dates; the only one I know of is Dec 12 ?
    There are a lot of ways for the SEC to rearrange the schedule. Dec. 12 and Dec. 19 are both open dates. Now, yes, the SEC championship game will be played on Dec. 19, but if your team isn't in contention for the division title, then any postponed game can be moved to Dec. 19. 
    But there are other ways to work around postponements. Next week, for example, if Florida doesn't have enough players to host Mizzou AND Vanderbilt's roster is back in shape to play a game, Mizzou could very well host Vanderbilt. (For now, the Commodores have a bye next week.) Or, let's say neither Vandy or Florida could field a team next week, the SEC could move around another one of Missouri's games and reschedule it for next week. Mississippi State is also on a bye next week. Perhaps Mizzou could go to Starkville and play, which would free up Dec. 5 for both teams. (That's when the Tigers are scheduled to play at Mississippi State. Mizzou could then go to Florida that week instead.) The SEC will have a lot of contingency plans. This is why the conference built in bye weeks to solve problems like this. 
    The conferences aren't thinking about canceling seasons. They knew games were going to be postponed and interrupted. Nothing that's happening is a surprise. Could one team have to cancel its entire season? I don't know how likely that would  be. Even if your entire roster is in quarantine for the 14-day period, that's two weeks - at most three games -depending on when the quarantine starts. Unless players are having prolonged symptoms then you could still resume a season and get more games played. 
    HCED and his personality seems to continue to impress across various news outlets. Have you spoken to any of the current players and their thoughts on how he has been able to capture the locker room?. It seems like most are rowing in the same direction other than a few who went to the transfer portal.
    Several have opted out for this season. A few have transferred. It's naive to think every player is going to instantly buy into the new head coach - especially if their role has changed or their role hasn't expanded. By my count, six scholarship players from last year's team who would have had eligibility this year left the team or entered the transfer portal. Another five players have opted out for this season. 
    But, yes, for the most part players seem bought in to what he's preaching and building within the locker room. 
    You don't have to talk to players to see that. It's obvious on the field. (Also, no player is going to admit on a Zoom interview that he's not buying into the new coach.)
    The goal line stand at the end of the LSU game was probably the best goal line stand I’ve seen by MU. It was first and 10 at the one yard line with 40 seconds left. I immediately flashed back to the Kentucky game 2 years ago and the flea kicker game 25 years ago and thought this game is over and LSU wins and there will be no time for MU to score. It was a remarkable stand. However, the defense after 3 games has given up 114, an average of 38 a game. You don’t win many games giving up 38 points a game. Maybe this is the new college football with offenses running defenses ragged. As bad as MU’s defense has been so far, LSU’s defense looked totally clues when their defensive backs left MU receivers wide open on several of their TDs. This unexpected bye week is time to turn up the defense for 60 minutes not just for the final four plays.
    You'll want to check out a story I'm writing about SEC defenses and where Mizzou fits into the picture through three weeks. One one hand, it's still a small sample size. Mizzou has played against the best Power 5 offense in  the country (Alabama) and two very good offensive teams (Tennessee, LSU). Had MU played a Vandy or Auburn or Arkansas among those first three games, the numbers would look a lot better. I'd say give this defense time before judging too quickly. 
    Either way, the stat I think gives the best snapshot of how teams are playing defense is yards allowed per play. Mizzou is at 6.3 right now. Not great. But context is everything. Five SEC teams are worse, including Florida and Texas A&M, two nationally ranked teams. Mizzou;s average is just a hair behind Alabama - the No. 2 team in the country.
    So, it's still a little too early to put too much stock in team stats. 
    Here's what I'd say about MU's defense: It needs to generate more turnovers. The pressure on the pocket has been good at times but sporadic. The linebackers and secondary have done a good job disrupting passes in the air but need to force more takeaways. The tackling has been fairly sound: very good against Bama, so-so against Tennessee, good again vs. LSU. LSU had some explosive plays in the passing game, but I came away from that game thinking MU's defense did a lot of things well: Stuffed the run, played really well on third down and made plays on the ball when it was in the air. 
    After reading about other cases of C19 making its way through college and pro football, I am trending down in my expectation that the season will finish. Your thoughts?
    I stick with what I wrote earlier: This was expected. It's why the SEC built in two bye weeks. It's why schools and conferences are cooperating to move games so they can get in as many as possible. Coaches are contracting the virus. Obviously we hope they all recover. But that doesn't mean we have to shut down the season. Nobody was talking about shutting down the season back when teams in the Sun Belt, the American and even the Big 12 were having to postpone games. But now that it's hit some SEC programs and the game's best coach came down with the virus, it seems like more alarms are going off - among media, fans and across social media. But what's really changed? As Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said this week, "We're trying to play football in a pandemic." This is the cost. This is the risk. But it was always the cost and risk. So, personally, I don't quite understand the sudden concerns. It was never going to be easy.
    It seems like Borom has made a huge leap in his performance year over year. Kudos to him and the staff on the development. Also, how many years does he have left?
  • He's a junior. But, remember, this year doesn't count toward eligibility, so he'll be a junior again in 2021. Now, if he truly develops into an elite SEC lineman, as his PFF numbers suggest he could already be, then he could give the NFL a shot before his eligibility expires. I think he's benefiting from playing one position and not shuffling around like he did all of last season, when he went from left guard to right guard to left tackle to right tackle. He's been very good through three weeks.
    DM: Bazelak has been amazing, but a big part of his success is thanks to the O-Line. How surprised are you at how well they have performed thus far, especially after last year's struggles? In a similar vein, are you surprised at how well the team has been able to execute on offense under these unusual circumstances (new coach, limited team off-season workouts, lots of Zoom meetings, etc.)?
  • The LSU offense was impressive. The offense at Tennessee, not so much. The blocking was OK. Bazelak was sharp. Running game was fine but not a huge factor. Pass-catching was terrible. Let's not go crazy with the offensive cheerleading considering MU scored all of three touchdowns in the first two games combined. The offense was much better vs. LSU once it became clear who should be playing quarterback.
    I give Drinkwitz credit for putting together a functional offense and calling a great game against LSU. But that's also why he's being paid $4 million a year. He was hailed as an innovative offensive coach. And that performance against LSU was why he got the job.
  • Speaking of the transfer portal, is this toothpaste out of the tube that can't be put back?. The amount of players seems to be escalating. Do the numbers show that?. Will the NCAA try to walk back or change the rules moving forward?
    Nope. This is the system. Why should't players transfer? Coaches move around all the time. Non-athletes transfer schools all the time. If anything, it's going to become easier for athletes to transfer. The NCAA has proposed the one-time transfer rule. 
    Here's the rule proposal:
    The proposal would expand the current one-time transfer exception to all sports. Currently, student-athletes who participate in baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s ice hockey are not eligible to transfer and compete immediately without a waiver.

    The proposal includes a requirement that both the head coach at the new school and the student-athlete must certify that no tampering took place. It also provides the option for the Council to set deadlines by which student-athletes must provide written notification of transfer to their school: May 1 for fall and winter sport student-athletes and July 1 for spring sport student-athletes. Some exceptions would apply in cases of a head coaching change or cancelled athletics scholarship.

    Transferring college athletes also would have to meet progress-toward-degree requirements and be otherwise academically eligible in order to compete after transfer. Schools would be required to educate all student-athletes regarding the impacts and implications of transferring, including academic requirements and financial aid policies. An online module would be created to assist schools with ensuring student-athletes can access this education, which is intended to help student-athletes make informed transfer decisions.

    The Council intends to vote on the measure during the 2021 NCAA Convention in January. If approved, it would be effective for student-athletes who seek to be immediately eligible for competition during the 2021-22 academic year.

    1) Why were there only 10,000 at Saturday's game vs 11,700 at previous? Assume it's because of the last minute relocation.
    2) I know we're talking about limited tenures but would you compare ADs in terms of strengths and weaknesses of Sterk, Rhoades (though he was there only a year) and Alden?
    1. Because nearly 2,000 tickets went unsold. Mizzou allowed the season-ticket holders to claim their normal seats for the LSU game ($75 for upper bowl, $50 for lower bowl) and any tickets that went unclaimed were available to the public last Friday. Mizzou sold some but not all of them. 
    2. I know Mack became an easy target for Mizzou fans because of how he left and how he handled the 2015 football team situation ... but I thought he had a lot of good ideas, hired a very, very strong staff and worked hard to build relationships within the department and the local media. 
    Sterk keeps a much tighter inner circle. I've always thought he's more closed off personally. That's not a bad thing, just a different approach. Mike Alden was more of a politician. He worked the room. He knew he needed as allies and built a coalition of supporters.
    Sterk keeps a much lower profile. We saw that when he hired Cuonzo Martin. He didn't have a big committee flying all over the country. He had some missteps with the latest football coaching search but ultimately landed on a coach who appears to be a good hire.
    I think donors like Sterk. He's not someone who's going to invest emotionally in the people who work under him - unlike Alden, who had such strong support internally because he invested in the people in his department and mentored them to become ADs on their own. 
    Hey, Dave. I'm curious as to what you think the ethics are of having college football season to begin with and attempting to continue with it despite so many schools having spikes in cases. One of things that gets pushed aside in the talk that teenagers and young adults tend not to feel significant symptoms is that now the science is showing that Covid can do damage to the heart, organs, and/or brain. My brother is an ER doctor and former college football player, and he explained to me that they are finding that such damage can occur in even those who present asymptomatically. My dad, also an ER doc, noted that for healthy young adults, myocarditis can, in of itself, go unnoticed by the victim, and in the case of world class athletes, reduce their performance enough to make a difference but not enough to suggest they seek medical help. And then, the long term effects are unknown.

    I just think a lot was written off as "young people tend to be asymptomatic and they'll be fine if they get it." I don't know that there is much consideration for the long-term health of these athletes (which, I know, might be said of college football under normal circumstances, but you know what I mean). I think they're being thrown out there to salvage the money that athletic departments need.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm conflicted to some degree. I'm glad we're having a college football season. It's good for business. It's good for society to have some sense of normalcy. It's good for the schools and the teams and the players. What we can't know at this moment is if colleges are doing more harm than good by having a season. Would these players and coaches be contracting the virus at a higher rate if they weren't playing games? Would they be exposing more vulnerable relatives more so if they weren't playing a season? The long-term effects are still uncertain ... but at the same time, we're talking about a violent sport that we already know has serious long-term and short-term health risks. Short answer: I don't know if we're doing the right thing by having a season. 
    Cuonzo Martin was asked the same thing yesterday and, as I wrote today, he's really struggling with the answer. He doesn't feel comfortable with having a college season in the middle of a pandemic. And he said he approaches that question as a father first and foremost. 
    Dave, any news on Freshman wide receiver Jay Maclin? Will he get a chance to play this year?
    Short answer: Not everyone gets to play. 
    You have to earn your playing time. Ten wide receivers have played at least one snap this season, so it's not like they're only playing a couple and letting the rest ride the bench. He didn't make the travel roster to Tennessee, which tells me he's just not quite as ready to contribute this year as other receivers on the roster. If his last name wasn't Maclin I'm not sure fans would be as concerned, but he carries some high expectations - probably unfair expectations - based on his family ties. 
    Saban tested positive Wednesday morning and immediately stayed away from the team. I assume he led his team’s Tuesday practice meaming he was in contact with all players and coaches. I have not heard if the entire team has been tested since. I assume they have been, but have heard nothing about the rest of the team. This seems like a possible superspreader situation. Everybody’s worried about how Saban is going to run the remaining practices and how he will coach the team Saturday night.
    Alabama has been doing daily testing since before the season started, so if any players also contracted the virus it'll show up soon. The Alabama-Georgia game is still on as of now. I wouldn't jump to conclusions yet. Several coaches have tested positive this year and some of their teams still had enough negative cases to play their games that week.
    Now that the NCAA has announced that this year will not count in terms of eligibility any ideas on which players might return for an additional year?
    Whiteside, Utsey, Williams, Bledsoe, etc?
    Don't see Rountree returning, but was curious about others?
    It's way too early to know. Even if some players aren't considered obvious NFL draft picks, not all of them will want to return to school for another year, especially the fifth-year seniors. Next year would be the sixth year on campus for Tre Williams, Utsey and Micah Wilson.
    I liked Eli’s dig at Oklahoma’s recruitment of Luther Burden Jr. on his postgame interview after the LSU game. Beating LSU(or GEorgia later this year at home) is exactly what he needs to get the attention of 5 star recruits and have the come to COMO. It’s hard for 5 star recruits to turn down offers from Ohio St, Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma et al. Hoprfully Burden can change his mind like Jeremy Maclin did.
    For the record, Drinkwitz insisted that wasn't meant as a shot at Oklahoma. He was quoting Chris Berman. 
    My take: Even if he wasn't making a dig at OU, he doesn't mind if some people interpreted it that way. 
    Hi Dave - first time caller, long time listener. Have you given up on the walking dead yet? Or are you pot committed till the bitter, jumped the shark end.
  • We still watch it out of  habit but haven't been inspired to watch the finale yet. I can't say I'm too emotionally invested in the characters at this point.
    In other news, my favorite current show is "Ted Lasso." It's exactly what 2020 needed. 
  • It appears the WR's that played against LSU may have something to say moving forward for playing time. I realize the LSU defense was porous, but I don't recall a drop by a MU receiver. At a minimum will Hazleton and Chism get fewer snaps?
    I touched on this earlier. I would  be stunned if Chism and Hazelton go back to playing 50 snaps a game and guys like Smith and Dove are back to single-digit snaps. It would make zero sense to bury those guys on the bench after what they did against LSU. And it's not like Chism and Hazelton were pushing for All-American votes the first two weeks of the season. 
    I know you are saying the jury is still out on this defense. But what about the scheme? I saw some 4 down fronts against LSU and can remember very few times, if any, of that happening against Bama or Tennessee. So my question to you is, will we see more 4 man fronts moving forward? Also, it seems like we give up a lot of yards through the air (granted most of it is against LSU & Bama with elite receiving talent). Do you think we struggle in pass defense because we aren't as talented or is their a flaw in the scheme?
    It depends how you're defining a four-man front. They've almost always had four players from the D-line group on the field at the same time in each game. In the first two games, the OLB/rush end stood up on his feet; against LSU they had more looks where that fourth player was down in a two-point stance. But it's still the same players. In the first two games, Tre Williams and Trajan Jeffcoat rotated at the OLB/rush end spot. Because the interior of the line was so depleted against LSU, MU moved Chris Turner and Isaiah McGuire from end to tackle and often played both Williams and Jeffcoat on the field at the same time on opposite edges. So, it's not really a scheme change. They ran the same front last season, with the end sometimes up, sometimes standing up depending on the call. But they're just labeling him as an OLB now. 
    On the pass defense question: Small sample size for now. Everyone in the SEC struggles to contain Alabama's receivers. LSU has replaced key pieces but that's still a high-powered passing game. MU's defense stopped all 10 third downs in that game and deflected 10 passes. That's good defense. The league has changed. You can give up  yards and points and still be playing solid defense as long as you make the plays that count when they count most. I thought MU's defense made some progress in the last game. 
    Last week you said the over/under for Mizzou wins this season was 3. I guess LSU was not one of the three. If Mizzou ends up playing 10 games how many can they win. I would like to see the Tigers more competitive against Georgia, Alabama and Auburn especially in home games. I would include LSU but they did beat them.
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