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.

    Greetings, friends. We've got a couple hours together to talk all things Mizzou. Big win for Cuonzo Martin's team last night in Omaha. Big game for Eli Drinkwitz's team in 48 hours. Let's get this started.
    With Bledsoe and Gillispie presumably leaving, the safety position looks thin next year. Do you think Manuel will move back to join Jalani Williams as the high safeties? Is Williams ready to live up this "4-star" rating when he was recruited? Brown is another one who has had some good things written about him. Will he be ready to start?
    Unless Mizzou taps into the transfer market and lands someone who can play immediately in 2021, my hunch is the three safeties will be Manuel, Williams and Brown - assuming Mizzou uses the same scheme in 2021. As long as Ryan Walters is still the coordinator, I would think they'll stick with that three-safety look. This past offseason, Manuel came on strong during the summer after moving down to the strong safety position, but he knows the free safety/boundary safety roles having played back there as a freshman in 2019. Walters will play the the three best guys in the combination that works best for the defense, whether Manuel stays closer to the box as the SS or moves back into one of the two deep positions. Manuel has played close to an All-SEC level this year at times. He's so physical and seems to have strong instincts when he plays closer to the action. I'd be hesitant to move him. The staff likes Williams a lot. He's learned from two very good players the last two years and, for what it's worth, has graded really well by PFF when he's been on the field. 
    Could one of next year's incoming freshmen join the mix? Maybe Daylan Carnell? There will be some young options to push for roles. 
    The snap counts once the season is over are going to be very interesting. Lots of experience gained all up and down the two-deep and beyond.
    Yes, especially on the O-line, where Mizzou loses only one senior, gets Hyrin White back for next year and added a Power 5 transfer.
    Could Florida have clinched the SEC East by the time UGA were to hit town next week?
    Yes, if Florida beats Tennessee on Saturday it clinches the SEC East. With a win over the Vols, the worst record UF can have is 8-2. Georgia already has two losses, and as long as they tie with the same record, UF has the head-to-head tiebreaker. 
    The SEC will announce tomorrow whether Mizzou plays Georgia or Mississippi State on Dec. 12. As of now, Mississippi State is scheduled to play Auburn on Dec. 12. You can keep that game in place, have Georgia visit Mizzou next week and then send Mizzou to Starkville on Dec. 19. That seems most likely. (I hope it does considering that the Braggin' Rights Game is also set for Dec. 12 in Columbia.)
    was Franklin really the "blueprint" for Vandy, or are its challenges much deeper than anything a head coach can affect?
  • James Franklin was probably the outlier at Vandy. Penn State's current season notwithstanding, he's one of the game's great coaches. He brought NFL talent to Nashville, put together a strong staff and convinced those players they were good enough to win in the SEC, which they did. But Vandy is kidding itself if it believes one coach is going to magically win nine games there without better support and resources. 
    I'd be interested to see Vandy try and be the SEC oddball and run the triple option. It's not like they're recruiting NFL quarterbacks and skill position players and NFL linemen right now. But my fear is the SEC has become so pass-heavy with so many explosive offenses that an option team will get overwhelmed. 
    I think the best move is to get a charismatic recruiting madman who runs an innovative offense and makes Vandy a fun place to play. That's Will Healy. 
  • How much stock do you put in PFF grades and advanced analytics? Ultimately, a grade is a subjective assessment, no matter how experienced the grader. I have been interested in knowing snap counts and target counts, but most of the rest - yards after first tackle, yards before first tackle, average depth of reception, even YAC - it may help coaches, but it just mostly makes my head hurt. Do they help gamblers?
    I like reading and using the snap counts and the raw stats - pressures, hurries, targets, pressures allowed, completions vs. the blitz, etc. - but I don't put a whole lot of stock in the grades. I'll use them in my reporting if I think there's some value in those numbers. Full disclosure, I subscribed to the PFF content this year knowing we weren't going to get interviews with the assistant coaches this season. Every other year I've covered Mizzou I've relied on interviews with those position coaches to put the stats into context and tell the story of how their players are performing. Unfortunately, Drinkwitz, Ryan Walters (and the special teams coordinator) are the only coaches talking to the media this year.
    Javon Pickett. I wanted to make sure he gets recognized for his tough and concerted effort last night. His hard work was key to the win against a very talented Oregon team. When Javon takes that ball to the hoop and creates action around the rim good things happen. I am sure he is disappointed that he no longer starts but his value is critical to our success. Do you see situations where he may be used in the point-forward role with three guards? Keep up the good work Javon.
    He's one player who doesn't care if he starts or comes off the bench. Completely selfless team player. Pinson called him the leader of the team last night. I thought that was a strong statement. 
    Fans get frustrated with Pickett because he has a ceiling offensively, but as long as he's not hoisting too many 3s, when he's healthy - and he's played through a lot of pain in his career at times - he brings a lot of value to this team on both ends of the floor. He was huge in last night's win. Nobody's shot could fall but he kept attacking the rim and making things happen.
    It was great to see Sarah Fuller kickoff for Vanderbilt last Saturday. What she did made all the national news shows. It would have been even better had she gotten a chance to kick a field goal. One of the announcers on tv said that Vanderbilt was waiting until they got to the Missouri 15 yard line before they would let her try. Missouri’s defense prevented this from happening. I was wondering if you watched Sarah practice field goals during the pregame warmups and how far out she was trying them from.
    Ben Frederickson and I discussed this at length on the podcast this week. Here's my take on what shouldn't be but inevitably became a polarizing story. Great moment of Fuller. Credit to Mason for being willing to think outside the box. I don't think he planned to let her kick a deep field goal. I watched her pretty closely before the game and at halftime and she made some, missed some - but they were all short, mostly PAT range. 
    I'll be the first to admit Some of the coverage has gone way over the top. I had the TV broadcast on in the press box on Saturday and I thought the announcers got overly transfixed with the angle and missed other parts of the game. I'm guilty of this in some of my writing, but I regret pushing hard on the "making history" phrase considering other women have kicked in Division I games - just not for a Power 5 team. I think we error sometimes in the media when we differentiate Power 5 from non-Power 5 with stories like this  - and it does a disservice to the women who kicked for New Mexico and Kent State. 
    Two more things few people have mentioned in the coverage:
    1. Derek Mason wanted to have an open tryout for a kicker last week, which would have likely produced a Vandy student who could kick a football. Students were home for the Thanksgiving break, so that wasn't an option. Sarah Fuller was his Hail Mary.
    2. Last Wednesday Mason called Fuller "an option." In the meantime, Vandy's social media accounts all but turned her into the face of the program. Then the SEC got invested in the narrative - to the point Mason might have felt obligated to make her his kicker instead of other options. Not sure many people realize this - or understand the mechanics - but Vanderbilt fired its athletics PR staff this summer and absorbed all those jobs under the umbrella of the university's PR wing. I'm not sure a staff accustomed to promoting athletics would have gone with the full-court press on the Fuller story ... but the university pushed it hard. 
    All of that being said, she deserves credit for volunteering to help another team on her campus. Give her credit for speaking up in the locker room at halftime when she realized things were so grim. She comes from a winning program and a winning culture. If girls and women - or men for that matter - took away some inspiration from what Fuller did on Saturday and the way Vandy approached it, that's a good thing. 
    Do we have an opponent for Dec 12 yet?
  • The SEC will announce tomorrow. I would expect it to be Georgia. But decision becomes official tomorrow.
  • Wow, did the MBB Tigers look good last night? Who/What do you think is most responsible?
    Mark Smith was great early. Tilmon made impact plays all night, especially on the offensive end early. Anyone else notice he's ripping rebounds down with more authority and force than years past? Pinson and Pickett were terrific in the second half. Pinson set the tone when he took a charge then drilled a deep 3. Mizzou wasn't going to let Oregon back in the game - at that point - and Pinson stepped up when the Smiths were in foul trouble. Great team win. Very encouraging for this season.
    With the extra year of eligibility for fall and winter sports do you anticipate records to be broken that may not have been possible in 4 seasons? Will these records have an asterisk or will they be considered valid? For example, with an extra season Larry Rountree could pass Brad Smith as the number one rusher in Mizzou history. Now I know he will enter the NFL Draft, but I anticipate some unbreakable records to be set for individual programs and possibly for the NCAA as a whole.
    There will have to be some asterisks across college sports, but as far as Mizzou, I don't really anticipate anyone returning who's going to set records - even with the extra year.
    Dave - Connor Bazelek took what Vanderbilt gave him which resulted in a number of completions and moving the ball forward. However, do you think Arkansas will bring more pressure? Do they play a lot of zone or man-to-man coverage? Thank You
  • Arkansas' defense is similar to Kentucky's. They're going to sit back in coverage - usually eight back - and force you to methodically move down the field until you make a mistake. They give up yards but they don't give up a lot of big plays. How about this: Two teams in the SEC have only given up three scrimmage plays of 40 yards or more: Arkansas and Mizzou.South Carolina has allowed 16. The Mississippi schools have both allowed a dozen. The Hogs really specialize in forcing turnovers, especially interceptions. They'll feast on mistakes, either poor throws, poor throws or poor adjustments/communications on routes.
  • Dave, I have not been this excited for both the football team and basketball team in a very long time. How much does last nights win change your view of this basketball team if at all? And how exciting would this years bragging rights game be if it could have fans.
    I picked Mizzou seventh in the SEC, higher than most. I have said all along they could finish anywhere from fifth to 10th. I don't think they're in the top tier of the SEC - Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida and LSU - but maybe they belong in that conversation now. I've watched Kentucky's two losses to Richmond and Kansas. The Cats can't shoot from and don't have a point guard. Shorthanded SLU took down LSU. 
    It's still WAY early. Tennessee hasn't played yet. Arkansas could be very good. Maybe Bama, too.
    This much I know: If Mizzou wins handily Sunday at Wichita State, the Tigers will be on my radar for my AP Top 25 ballot.
    I’m really impressed with Rickshaw (sp?). I can see why Drink was so excited when he signed.
  • Ennis Rakestraw. He's given up his share of completions and a few touchdowns, but he's held his own lately. It's a very difficult position to play as a freshman. He's a building block for the future. 
    The Tigers will lose Bolton, Gillespie, Bledsoe and some senior D-linemen. But the core of this defense is very promising for 2021. McGuire and Jeffcoat up front, Nicholson at linebacker, Manuel at safety, Rakestraw and Ware at corner. All of them should  be considered 2021 preseason All-SEC candidates.
    Hey, Dave: As you and Ben Fred have pointed out recently, the defense has really looked dominant of late. However, in the last few years, we've seen a pattern emerge: the defense looks shaky at the beginning of the season, and then gets better. In each case, that improvement has coincided with a weaker schedule towards the end of the year. So, it becomes hard to know how much of the improvement is related to weaker opponents, especially when it doesn't seem like the improvements carry over to the next season. This season kind feels different in that the tackling seems a lot better, and the front line seems more dominant, but I'm curious as to your evaluation of the defense, and do you think Mizzou can get it to carry over to next year?
    I actually thought one of the defense's best games was against Alabama. The Tide still had Waddle back then and MU held them to a season-low 38 points. The Tigers really tackled well in that game. They got pushed around some at Tennessee the next week and didn't tackle well at Florida, but this defense has been solid all year. The pass rush is better. The D-line was at  full strength for the first time last week and it showed. Bolton is playing like an All-American. Three really good safeties. The corners have been solid outside. The Tigers don't give up big plays. All they don't do is force a lot of turnovers, but they've had a few timely takeaways lately.
    Dave,

    What is up with the Miss St. and UGA games? Also, do you think Mizzou will be able to play in a bowl this year?
    Popular question today. The SEC will announce the remaining dates tomorrow. I would expect Mizzou to play Georgia next week and at Mississippi State the following week - unless the league really scrambles the schedule. 
    Yes, I expect Mizzou to play in a bowl. There are fewer bowls this year, but the NCAA eliminated the bowl requirements. There are enough SEC bowl tie-ins for a .500 SEC team to get an invitation - and I expect Mizzou to be 5-5 at worst by the end of the regular season.
    DM: I have really enjoyed watching the pace with which the Tigers are playing this season. They got a lot of easy baskets in transition last night. I still worry that they are a shooter short from being excellent on offense. Mark Smith is a terrific threat, Pinson has really improved. But then it drops off. Do you think the team has enough shooting to make them a 20+ win (or whatever the equivalent might be in this weird year) tournament team?
    That's a good question. If they could trust Watson to knock down a few 3s a game he'd play more. But he hasn't played many minutes yet. This isn't a surprise to me. Based on conversations I had this summer, the core rotaiton was going to be Pinson, Dru Smith, Buggs in the backcourt ... Mark Smith, Pickett on the wing ... Brown, Mitchell Smith, Braun at the four position ... and Tilmon at the five, with Smith and Braun as his backups depending on matchups. That leaves Watson, Chang and Wilmore on the bench. They could all get some spot duty but not necessarily heavy minutes.
    Bazelak was the freshman of the week for the second time this week. However, what caught my attention was Brady Cook’s 4 for 4 performance. His td pass was a perfect spiral and hit Hazelton in stride for an easy touchdown. Not saying there should be a QB controversy, because Bazelak has done a very good job. I hope we see many more throws like Cook made in the next 4 years.
  • Don't forget about Tyler Macon, who will sign with Mizzou in two weeks. Should be an interesting couple years at that position. Depth is good.
  • Dave - Bazelek and Bannister had a couple of opportunities of completions - one for a touchdown that was missed. Drinkwitz was irritated both times when they went to the sidelines. Although Bazelek had a good game, do you think is accuracy is an issue?
    If the season ended right now he'd have the second-best completion percentage for any QB in team history. So, no, I don't think it's a problem. He had a couple bad throws on Saturday. It might have been more of a miscommunication with the route or the receiver made a bad adjustment. Or the throws were just off physically. But the body of work tells us that he's a very accurate passer. I wouldn't read too much on Drinkwitz's sideline reactions when it comes to the passing game. I think it's pretty obvious he's tough on his QBs. He IS the quarterbacks coach. He doesn't hide his emotions over there when things go good or bad.
    Over the past few seasons (and last night) Cuonzo Martin almost always takes a timeout to end the half if Mizzou has possession and the game clock will run out. I understand wanting to draw up a play, but it often seems that these plays break down and/or we don't get a basket. Instead it It seems like letting the team 'play it out' would save a timeout and allow for another timeout during crunch time of close games.
    Some coaches have different philosophies on this. Some fans definitely have different philosophies. If you think you can get a better look or need to make a sub to get a certain player in the game for that final possession, no harm in using a timeout to draw something up. I didn't have a problem with the the decision last night.
    Are you intimidated by HC Drink?
    Uhh, no. I covered Larry Smith and Gary Pinkel when I was a lot younger. They weren't exactly warm and fuzzy characters (at the time.)
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