Join Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter for his live chat at 11 a.m. Thursday

Join Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter for his live chat at 11 a.m. Thursday

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

    Hello, chatters. I'll take your questions for the next couple hours. You know the drill. I need to pour another cup of coffee. Go ahead and fill the hopper with your questions and I'll get to them shortly.
    Dave i am at a loss for words just hard to believe our front 7 is this bad. Sat the defense never looked set and looked confused. Any insight is there a huge communication gap between coaches and players. Cant remember when mizzou looked so helpless on defense.
    Drinkwitz has used the word "disconnect" all week to explain the issues along the D-line. He hasn't really elaborated, only saying the linemen weren't doing what they were coached to do, which led to Franklin losing his job. Maybe he wasn't a very good teacher or communicator. It would be nice to talk to the D-linemen but they haven't been available for interviews for a couple of weeks. On the other hand playing D-line isn't the most complicated position on the field. I'm not sure how a group of mostly upperclassmen can misunderstand their jobs that badly. It's also possible these players just aren't good enough to beat the blocks in front of them, which I don't totally understand either because the same players weren't this incapable in the past. Losing Nick Bolton doesn't help. He likely erased a lot of mistakes because he was so instinctual, so physical and just a relentless tackler. This front six/front seven doesn't have anyone close to that kind of consistent playmaker.
    Just wonder why we cant play man to man some and put a 7th man in the box this all zone and 6 man in the box is getting destroyed
    Missouri has been playing a lot of man defense and often has a seventh defender in the box. Martez Manuel and Shawn Robinson often line up in the box as a quasi third linebacker. But you leave yourself vulnerable to the pass against four-wide and empty formations when you load up in the box.
    Several weeks ago I wrote stated in this forum that I thought we had significant problems with coaching on defense. I pointed to the regression of Trajan Jeffcoat as the canary in the coal mine. You were pretty much dismissive. I assume you are now convinced. I am EXTREMELY concerned that Drink acts surprised by the D meltdown. He’s the friggen HC, not just the O coordinator. Let me state a fundamental principle-you play like you practice. I don’t know of any coach who disagrees with that principle. But, our HC was apparently clueless about our defensive deficiencies. The number of missed tackles is staggering and that has been going on for sometime. Another canary in the coal mine. Firing the D line coach won’t fix that. At the end of the day Drink was a HC for 1 yr where he inherited a well-oiled program. I hope not but he may simply be in over his head. I don’t envy the position of our new AD.
    How exactly was I dismissive? If anything after just three games I wanted to see a wider body of work before making sweeping generalizations. Clearly whatever Franklin was teaching his linemen wasn't resonating. I don't deny that at all after five games. It's fair to second-guess the 3-3 alignment Wilks tried last week against Tennessee, though as I reported, it's been a common strategy for defenses against Josh Heupel's offense. In this case, it didn't work. But I give him credit for trying something different. 
    Mizzou's staff came into the season expecting growing pains on defense, especially with a new coordinator, a new scheme and two new positions coaches. Clearly, though, nobody expected the problem to be this bad. I don't know how they could have expected a historically bad defense to this degree. You can practice seven days a week and evaluate every snap on film and still not be able to accurately predict how exactly your team will perform in a game setting. 
    But whether or not Drinkwitz saw this coming, that's irrelevant at this point. He has to fix it. He has to put his coaches and players in position to fix it. Otherwise, this season is a complete lost cause before Halloween - and a lot of the offseason goodwill he's created will be irrelevant.  
    Good morning Dave--hope all is well your way. Regarding the firing of Jethro Frankllin: more so for him to be a "fall guy", and/or do you know if he & Wilks simply weren't on the same page?
  • It would have been nice to ask Wilks about the situation, but he didn't talk to the media this week. Highest paid assistant coach in the history of the university and he can't talk to reporters for 10 minutes. (And before you blame Wilks, I highly suspect this was the head coach's call, not Steve's.) That's a shame because a lot of fans would like some answers. Mizzou is going to pay Franklin $400,000 to not coach this season - money that comes directly from donations, ticket sales, concessions, etc. - and there's little explanation other than a "disconnect." 
    So, I wish I could answer your question but I can only speculate, which is exactly what the team shouldn't want reporters to do in these situations but it's all we can do. 
    On that note, I can't disagree with Drinkwitz's decision to fire Franklin just based on the results. Drinkwitz and Wilks built up this D-line as the strength of the team. It's been the worst unit on the team. Something had to change. And you can't fire all the players. 
    Hi, Dave! Thanks again for your time! I have a non-MIZZOU question - I hope that's okay. How did Coastal Carolina become an 'overnight' powerhouse?
    It wasn't exactly overnight. The football program was born in 2003 at the FCS level and it won immediately. There's lots of talent in and around Conway, South Carolina - and not everyone can play for the Gamecocks and Clemson in that state. The program's first coach, a guy named David Bennett, had worked at Clemson. He was a successful Division II coach. Then he just quickly built a really competitive program at the FCS level. CC made the move to FBS in 2011 under Joe Moglia, a guy who didn't have a lot of coaching experience but worked primarily in the business world. He had success in Conway, too - one of his early assistant coaches was former Mizzou great Brock Olivo - and then Jamey Chadwell has taken the program to another level. He's a really innovative offensive coach. He'll run his own Power 5 program sooner than later. They recruit well. They market their program well and have found their niche in the Sun Belt. A great success story.
    After beating Central Michigan, Coach Drinkwitz congratulated Desiree Reed-Francois on being 1-0. Less than 2 months into her role, she now owns one of the worst football losses in recent program history. Has the new AD made any public comments about the Tennessee game?
    The AD owns the loss? I'm not sure that's how it works. She didn't hire anyone who had anything to do with the game on Saturday. No, she hasn't talked publicly about the outcome of the game. She's busy trying to fill seats for Saturday's game and beyond.
    Hi Dave! What happened to Brick Haley? Was he let go simply because he was a hold over from Odom’s team? Is he still living in Columbia? The players really seemed to respond positively to his coaching.
    All Drinkwitz ever said about firing Haley was he wanted a fresh start and new direction at that position. This should be noted: He was fired when Wilks took over ... and Wilks and Haley worked together previously with the Chicago Bears under Lovie Smith. I suspect if Wilks wanted Haley as his D-line coach he would have stayed on the staff. Haley has not gotten back into coaching from what I understand. I know he and his family very much enjoy Columbia, partly because of the resources for their son, A.J., who is autistic.
  • Will Mizzou win another game this year? Is it time to replace Bazelak?
  • Over under on attendance Saturday 25,000?
    Over. It's homecoming. Weather is supposed to be nice. There are a lot of fans from outside of Columbia and/or the state who make an appointment to attend only one game a year and that's usually homecoming, regardless of the opponent.
    Lots of negatives about the D as there should be but has anyone noticed as big an issue is the O cannot sustain any drives that involve running the ball? It looked like the offensive line got manhandled against UT with Badie getting less than 100, a bunch of TFLs, and constant pressure on QB1? Wow, i hope the O line also gets fixed soon. Now I'm worried about the North Texas green guys coming to town!
    Saturday was definitely a step backward for the O-line and the offense in general. An average-at-best Tennessee defense controlled the line of scrimmage, pressured Bazelak all day long and swallowed up Badie before he could get positive yardage. Just a really bad performance from the line. Maybe it was just an outlier. The same unit played much better against Boston College and Kentucky. 
    Mizzou's offense should be good enough to engage in shootouts with most SEC teams on the schedule - outside of Georgia - but the line didn't even give the Tigers a chance to play catch-up with the Vols.
    Dave, used to be the visiting team fans at Faurot had their sections placed far away from the playing field. What I would like to know is what fool(s) in the athletic department were responsible for letting them now sit right behind the visiting team's bench, giving said team something of a "road-field" advantage(especially when our own fans are barely showing up)?
    That's an SEC policy. The visiting team is required to have a pocket of seats behind their bench.
    Oh yeah, forgot to say congrats on your beat writer award! That is so great. i hope a cigar smoking delivery man drops off a wooden crate with the words Fra-gee-lee on the side and you get a major award of a leg lamp that Mrs. Matter will mysteriously break. Must break out my Dave Matter authored books like The 100 Yard Journey to celebrate!
    Thank you. Much appreciated. Still waiting for that delivery!
    Dave, hi! This sounds hindsight, but I thought there were evident effort issues on the defensive side for each of the first 4 games. By effort, I mean being physical at point of contact & making tackles. Each week, Coach Drinkwitz would characterize the problems as schematic, being in wrong gaps, not enough talent, etc. Finally, at his Tuesday presser, after Tennessee loss, he admitted to a few effort issues on some plays. Was he truly just becoming aware of effort issues at that point? Was that coach speak or does this signal a bigger issue with his head coaching abilities? Thanks!
  • This is the one game this year where Mizzou was out of reach with no shot at catching up - and that's when you saw some lack of effort plays. I don't have a mental catalog of every play this season, but I really can't recall any obvious lack-of-effort plays through the first four games. A few were easy to see against Tennessee. These coaches evaluate and grade every single thing that happens on the practice field and during games. If someone loafed on a play, they certainly were graded down for it - even if the coach didn't talk about it publicly.
    Dave, first, as a retired career journalist, congrats on your national beat writers' award ... keep 'em coming! After watching our valiant but frustrating comeback at Kentucky, and having sat behind the Mizzou bench at BC only to witness a similar outcome, both before raucous road crowds, was last week an outlier or a sign of deeper problems? I thought I was watching Hickman High's Kewpies take on the Vols. Couple that with the smallest home crowd for the first SEC East foe, and I'm left wondering what's next, recruits bailing on Drink, or God knows what. Oh what Tiger fans would give to have both sides of the ball playing equally in any given season.
    Thanks for the kind note.
    As for whether that game was an outlier ... we'll know in a few weeks. Defensively, it was just more of the same but worse than ever. Offensively, it was certainly the worst game of the season - and didn't look similar to past games against similar competition. I can't recall the last time I've seen a Missouri effort so futile against that caliber of competition. Certainly we've seen Mizzou outclassed and dominated by superior talent. And we've seen losses to Group of 5 teams (New Mexico, Middle Tennessee, etc.) but in those games Mizzou's offense was productive and it wasn't a complete no-show for both sides of the ball. This Tennessee game was a thorough shellacking - by a team that isn't all that more talented or deep than Mizzou.
    Will Trajan Jeffcoat go down in Mizzou history as one of the all-time biggest disappointments?
    He's got seven games left on this season and another year of eligibility. Let's hold off on burying the guy.
    What's your sense, having watched this team more than anyone not part of it over the last few years ... it seems like players who were here last year tackled at a much better rate than they do now. I can't imagine they changed any fundamentals on tackling.
    Devin Nicholson was a better player last year ... but was it because he had an All-SEC linebacker playing next to him?
    Jeffcoat was more productive last year. What changed?
    Whiteside was much better two years ago - he was healthy for one game in 2020 - but was it because he played next to an All-SEC tackle?
    62 to 24. Wow! Tennessee scored 28 points in the first quarter on 14 plays. That’s 2 points per play. I guess Tiyon Evans wasn’t bragging necause he sure backed it up with 123 yards and 3 tds in the first half. Believe it or not that is not the worst loss in MU FB history. In the 1980s under Woody Widenhofer the Tigers lost to Oklahoma 77-0. Barry Switzer himself commented after the game “ That program has sure gone downhill”. Ib the 1990s under Bob Stull MU lost to TXAM 73-0 at College Station. Oh sure, you’re going to say that’s ancient history why are you bringing that up. Because both Widenhofer and Stull came in as program saviors (just like HCED) and failed miserably - Woody won 10 games in 4 years including a loss to Northwestern in his first gameNorthwestern during the 80s had really lousy teams. Eli came in with a lot of hype just like them. I love his enthusiasm and wish I had something to be enthusiastic about. Didn’t Eli’s team at AppSt beat 2 Division 1 teams the year before he came to COMO? I have doubts that he will match that this. Firing the Dline coach isn’t something magical that will inspire a miracle 7 game win streak like the Cardinals 17 game win streak in september. I wish Eli the best and hope his recruits can turn this thing around!
    Drinkwitz's App State team beat North Carolina and South Carolina. 
    His first Missouri team beat LSU, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vandy and Arkansas. So, he's beaten Power 5 teams. As a head coach, he's 7-8 against Power 5 teams.
  • I would imagine Drink & Co. will look to have a lot more success with Power 5 transfers this off season (both grad and younger). Alldredge and Connor Wood seem like quality young men and serviceable players but nowhere near the quality this team will need for immediate help on both sides of the ball. But, if they can get a good O lineman (or two) the young receiver corps - maybe significantly enhanced later this month - can be good enough to compete in this league (though I'd like to see more out of Bazelak, over the next year).
    I'd suggest they could use Power 5 help just about everywhere. It'll be interesting to see how's on the market and how aggressive Mizzou is toward certain position groups.
    Make sure you give this week's podcast a listen. Ben Fred and I re-examine the Tennessee loss and discuss the fallout ... and then I had a great conversation with old friend Bob Ballou from CBS Austin. We get the other perspective of SEC expansion and look ahead to Texas' eventual invasion of the SEC.

    Eye on the Tigers: Talkin’ Tigers, Tennessee … Texas?

    The Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter and Ben Frederickson pick through the carcass of Mizzou’s 62-24 loss to Tennessee and examine Eli Drinkwitz’s response to the blowout loss, from firing his D-line coach to cutting off media access during homecoming week. Dave also visits with Austin, Texas, sports anchor Bob Ballou to check in on the Texas Longhorns, who sooner than later will be reunited with Mizzou as members of the SEC.   

    Thanks for that Men's BB article yesterday – I'm very curious how the team will pan out. Also, thanks for the note on Dru Smith's Miami contract. Question: Do you know what's going on with J. Tilmon?
    Jeremiah had been in Columbia working out. I know he had some NBA workouts after his summer league stint with the Magic. I believe he was in Utah at one point not too long ago. But no contract as far as I know.
    I was looking through the Mizzou roster recently and came across number 15 Tommy Lock, a frehman QB from Lee’s Summit. I am guessing he is Drew’s brother or at least a cousin? With Cook and Macon as Bazelak’s backups he must be 4th string if not lower?
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