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.

    Greetings, Mizzou chatters. We're officially two weeks away from the season opener. Lots more coverage coming your way between now and then, but for now, we chat all things Mizzou. And if you want to discuss the Better Call Saul finale, I'm good with that, too. My wife doesn't watch and my kids are too young, so I have no one in my household to share thoughts on the epic finale
    With Cook declared the starting quarterback who will the next man in if he is hurt. Also with 4 quarterbacks who competed to start what use does Drink have for the two walk on quarterbacks?Are there enough reps for them to contribute at practice?
    You need at least four if not five QBs for depth and practice. It's nice to have a couple walk-ons run the scout team. There's no sense in using a scholarship player who might see game action spend the whole practice running the opponent's offense. 
    No telling on the backup plan for now. My hunch is Drinkwitz won't declare an absolute No. 2 at the start of the season. He likes to list backups with an OR, as in Abraham OR Macon OR Horn and leave everyone guessing if and when a backup will see the field. It could be a fluid situation where a different backup makes sense in different scenarios. If it's garbage time in a lopsided game, it makes sense to give Horn some game reps. If it's early in a close game and you favor Abraham's experience to manage the rest of the game, he might make more sense. If you want to keep the ball on the ground and run out the clock, Macon could be your guy. 
    So Dave, does it look to you like Cody Schrader is gonna get first shot at running back?
    If the season started today I think he's a big part of the rotation and possibly the starter, based on ...
    1. Drinkwitz's comments
    2. The health/availability of other backs
    3. What I've seen in limited view of practice
    By Sept. 1, the other backs nursing injuries might be ready to play. But if Schrader and Young are getting the bulk of the practice carries this week and next, it's logical to expect them to be the first options in Week 1. That doesn't mean they have the same roles all season.
    Here's what I wrote about Schrader in today's P-D:
    How does Missouri use NIL money to recruit players? Does a recruit talk to someone at the school to see what range they fall in. Do you believe Drink lost some of our in state 4 stars because the financial incentives were greater at other schools?
    The coaches can't legally use NIL money as a recruiting incentive, but they can tell recruits about the independent booster-led collectives that raise money to legally pay athletes for NIL. It would be naive to think these discussions aren't happening with recruits during the process, but they're not going to share that information publicly - how much they're being offered via the collectives - because that would be expose a blatant NCAA violation. So, I can't tell you with 100% accuracy what players are being promised. I wouldn't assume that every recruiting decision comes down to NIL dollars. Long before NIL, local prospects were picking more established winning programs over Mizzou - Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Ohio State, etc. - so when current recruits are still picking those schools, I won't believe it's exclusively related to NIL.
    How many games does Horn get this year?
    Fewer than five so he can preserve his year of eligibility. Now, if he's truly an elite player and a future franchise QB, maybe that one year doesn't really matter - because he'll be an NFL prospect without needing to stay on campus for five years. 
    But I would be surprised if they go into the season planning to play him every week or close to every week. Unless, of course, there's an injury or Cook really struggles. 
    How worried should we be about the running back room right now?
    They have enough bodies to have a functional running game. Just maybe not a superstar. That's OK. They can split up the workload. There's no indication that Peat, Jones or Butts don't have serious injuries. Once they're back, they'll have plenty of options.
    I think the Tigers squeak out 7 wins.
    Possibly.
    Who are they upsetting to get to seven?
    This is Coach Drinkwitz’s 3rd year at Mizzou, I’m curious about what he thinks his 3rd year strengths Will be relative to his 1st and 2nd years
    He believes his core beliefs/philosophies are more established now than ever before. Players know his expectations/standards better after two seasons. I think he's got a better feel for the fan base and fan support, or lack thereof. The personnel has evolved a lot, but nearly half the starters could be Odom recruits who have been here as long or longer than Drinkwitz.
    Forgive me if I missed this…. Have you done your Mizzou Football season W-L predictions yet? If not, let’s have it
    Our staff usually publishes game-by-game predictions for the entire season. If we do that again, it will be published on Aug. 28. I've still got some time to decide. I'm on the 6-6 fence and could slip off in either direction one game worse or better.
    What has surprised you so far since camp started?
    We're not allowed to see enough in camp to be surprised. All we really have to go by is what the coaches and players tell us a couple times a week when they do interviews. And their message is always filtered. So, I can't say anything has really surprised me. 
    I was slightly surprised when Blake Baker said freshman safety J'Marion Wayne will see the field this year. They have a bunch of veterans in the secondary and I figured he'd need a year to learn the system to see much action. That could still be the case.
    Thanks as always for these chats. Recognizing your access to the team is limited, do you have a name or two of players you think we should be looking for to make an impact this season, who might not have been impact players in the past?
    Well, I'd start with running back Cody Schrader.
    At receiver, I'm still high on Chance Luper.
    On defense, Arden Walker is a promising young edge rusher. 
    In the secondary, maybe Dreyden Norwood. He transferred from Texas A&M and didn't see the field last year, but the staff is high on him. 
    Media question for you Dave. The media has happily referred to the President’s latest spending bill by its formal name (Inflation Reduction Act) but insisted on referring to the controversial Florida bill that passed earlier this year as the Don’t Say Gay bill, even though that wasn’t the name of the bill (in fact, the word gay wasn’t mentioned in the bill once). Thoughts on this blatant double standard?
    Last year Mizzou had 3000 passing yards and 2400 rushing yards.
    This year there is no Tyler Badie and a relatively inexperienced starting QBs. Will Mizzou be a predominantly passing or rushing team. Seems to me there are as many question marks concerning who will get the carries when they have the ball as there are about the passing ability of Cook and the other 3 QBs. Maybe your answer will be it’s a work in progress that will be determined by training camp and the nonconference games?
    Smart teams lean in the direction of their strengths but still try to be marginally balanced. As good as Badie was last year, Mizzou still only ranked 49th in the country in rushing yards per game. Hardly elite. Someone will run the ball this year - and probably multiple guys every game. Don't overlook Brady Cook's role in the running game. It's part of his tool box. But coaches don't go into a game or a season and say, "We have to run for this many yards/pass for this many yards every game and every season." They usually want to hit certain averages per play/per carry/per pass attempt but it's all about scoring points and using their best means to make that happen. By the end of the game and the season they'll have their stats that tell the story of how they tried to win games.
    If Mizzou wins 7 will that be one of the biggest surprises in the SEC. Also do you feel the defense will be better against the run. Lots of great running backs to defend against.
    You can't say if 7-5 Missouri will be one of the SEC's biggest surprises without knowing other results around the league. If Alabama goes 8-4 that's a much bigger surprise. Or if Auburn goes 10-2 or Vanderbilt 6-6.
    Mizzou's over/under win total has held steady at 5.5. So, with that in  mind, I don't think 7-5 equates a major surprise for this team.
    As for the run defense, this team's success is going to hinge on the defense's ability to be better than average. Or maybe even just average. If it's not terrible - and last year was mostly terrible - then it's got a chance to exceed the outside expectations. Mizzou started playing much more competitively last season when the run defense improved against South Carolina and Florida. 
    No spoilers for better call Saul! I’m watching the second half of the last season now. I heard some people were calling it better than breaking bad. What are your thoughts on it??
    I wouldn't say it's better than BB, because they're two entirely different shows set at different tempos. In some ways, I think the character development and the time-hopping in BCS make it a more difficult show for the writers to pull off - and they did so magnificently. Without giving anything away, they stuck the landing beautifully.
    Dave,
    The Tiger O-line returns most starters from last season with notable exception of Maietti. Do you feel this group has the starters and depth to be better than adequate? On the other side of the ball, do you feel we can expect significant D-line improvement?
    Don't forget right tackle Hyrin White. They're saying he might come back at some point this year but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
    Javon Foster played really well at left tackle. They're solid at the guard spots with 3-4 guys who can play without it being a weakness. Tollison is a question mark at center only because he's so young and untested. But the upside is surely there. The line has been pretty well coached the last two years by Marcus Johnson considering it's only produced one NFL player in Larry Borom and not a lot of starpower on an individual level.
    The D-line could be much better. They're stacked at D-end. They've definitely upgraded the depth at D-tackle and probably the talent level, too. There might not be an All-SEC player at tackle, but Baker believes they can go three deep there and not have a big drop-off.
    Anyone under the radar nationally that you could see as 1st team SEC when it’s all said and done? Javon Foster? Hopper? Abrams-Draine? Who do you see as the most talented players on the team?
    It's hard for a Mizzou offensive tackle to get national recognition when you've got future first-round picks at places like Alabama and Georgia most years. Foster could be just as talented and play just as well, but it's harder for players at schools like Mizzou to get that recognition at a position that doesn't produce traditional statistics. Though the popularity of Pro Football Focus is starting to change that as more people pay attention to advanced metrics in football.
    Abrams-Draine or one of the safeties could get some All-SEC recognition if they're productive and disruptive in the areas that people notice: break-ups and interceptions.
    Most talented? That can be hard to measure because there's so many different types of players on a football team. I'd say Mevis is the most talented at his particular job. Burden flashed a lot of talent in high school at levels no one else has on this team. Lovett is very talented. I think Javon Foster and the two D-ends (McGuire and Jeffcoat) are talented guys.  
    Dave: any insight on the Tigers “secret” new defensive alignment/scheme?
    I've written about it a lot. I don't think it's really a secret at this point. Four-man D-line, two inside backers, three safeties with one playing a hybrid OLB/safety position to give the defense a 4-3 look against the run, and then two corners. It's a pretty standard 4-2-5 look.
    I heard Drink mention Peat and Jones as having soft tissue injuries. Would you have any idea what this means in their cases? Thanks
    Jones has been nursing a hamstring. Not sure exactly on Peat but I interpret soft tissue as anything that's not a bone. Muscle, ligament, tendon, etc. There's no indication these are serious injuries.
    Hi Dave,
    I believe either you or Ben mentioned on the pod that you believed that Tyler Macon was a good enough of an athlete to get on the field if he can't make his way up the qb chart. It's probably hard to say but would you see him as a Robinson-esque switch to DB or more of a Lane Thomas (think that's his name, former VT qb who is now the TE was WSH). If I remember correctly Macon is not a tall man, but there have been shorter TEs that were pretty good in CFB, former USC TE Demetrius (sp) Byrd comes to mind. Thanks for your time Dave.
    That was Ben's idea. I'm not as sold. Macon sees himself as a quarterback. He's got some speed and wiggle but I'm not sure he gives you anything more in the run game that Cook doesn't give you if you line him up as a Wildcat QB. If anything, defenses could jam the box with nine, 10 or 11 defenders and dare him to throw - not his speciality. Maybe you can design a package with him on the field in a playmaker role with Cook at QB.
    At 5-11 and under 200 pounds, he's not playing tight end in this offense where you have to be a blocker in the run game. And I'm not sure he gives you any more value at receiver that you don't already have in the guys who have been playing that position since they got to campus. 
    With the news of the B1G new television contract did the SEC lose some of it's media dominance today and how much less do SEC teams now make compared to the B1G?
    All the numbers aren't spelled out yet per school so stay tuned. The new Big Ten deal is enormous, but it's not like the SEC suddenly has a mid-major media deal. The SEC will still be all over ABC, ESPN and the SEC Network.
    Dave,

    Thanks as always for running this chat. With such a highly touted incoming recruiting class, which freshman can we expect to contribute this year?

    Of the guys from the last recruiting class, it seems like our two 4 star defenders, Ford and Dameon Wilson, didn't play much as freshman. Can we expect more from either of them this year?
    From last year's class, I'd be surprised if Ford is a big contributor. Arden Walker is ahead of him. So are guys like Johnny Walker and probably the two older additions, Tyrone Hopper and DJ Coleman.
    The staff has talked about Wilson competing for playing time at linebacker. Baker wants to have five linebackers ready for each game. The top four are almost certainly Hopper, Bailey, Nicholson and Hicks. The last spot could be up for grabs between Wilson, Lovett and freshman Xavier Simmons.
    As for this year's freshman class, besides Luther Burden, I'd expect to see running back Tavorus Jones - maybe later than sooner - maybe Mekhi Miller at receiver, Ja'Marion Wayne at safety, Marquis Gracial at D-tackle, maybe Armand Membou at right tackle, maybe Max Whisner at tight end. 
    The state of Missouri/East St. Louis, seemed to have a ton of 4 star recruits this year and Drink has only been able to land Norfleet so far out of them. Should we be concerned that last years recruiting class was more of a one off and not a trend for Drink? Do you think he may be able to flip any of these guys committed to different schools?
    I think you have to count the last two classes, not just 2022. It's the first time Mizzou has landed two straight top 20 classes - only five other SEC programs had two top 20 classes in 2021-22: Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M.
    That said, we're reaching the point where Drinkwitz has a body of work for recruits to measure and not just his vision and sales pitch. The more you win, the more attractive the body of work appears to recruits - and vice versa. 
    He's certainly aware of what's happening. When I asked him about in-state/local recruiting back at SEC media days, he admitted he thought it would be easier after the initial success with the 2021-22 classes. 
    “For myself, I thought it would be easier,” he said. “But you’ve got to remind yourself you're going against some great programs and you're recruiting against the best. And you’ve got to continue to go get results. It’s no different than a loss. You go in, you evaluate what happened, where we're behind, what we didn't do great and how do we improve going forward?”
    “Game's not over yet,” he added. “It's not over yet. … I got a tweet this morning (from a fan) that said we need some more commitments. We need people to sign. Signing day is the third Wednesday in December. So we'll do our jobs. We'll do our jobs."
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