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.

    Hey there chatters
    We'll get started here briefly 
    Dave - What running back gives the Tigers the best chance to win at Auburn? Thank You
    I don't think there's one running back on this roster you can win with alone. I'm not sure running the ball with any of these backs can even work against a functional SEC defense. I'd think about throwing a lot more often in four- and five-wide formations. Spread the defense out and create some running lanes for the backs. But trying to jam the ball inside behind this offensive line just isn't working - and they've yet to face anything close to an above-average SEC defensive front.
    Dave, the word was that Jim Sterk wanted to hire Blake Anderson, who was the HC at Arkansas State(now Utah State). But that recommendation was rejected by the Board of Curators . My question is: Are you hearing if there is any buyers remorse or second thoughts from the Board or others who had an impact on the hiring of Drinkwitz?
    No.
    That wasn't "the word." That was what I reported happened. Between the AD and the search firm, they came up with a list of Blake Anderson (the top choice at the time) and Skip Holtz and Jeff Monken. The AD informally presented those choices to the Board and some members weren't thrilled and asked to hit the reset button. Drinkwitz at the time was getting ready to coach in the Sun Belt championship game. They didn't think he was viable at the time because he wasn't talking to other schools. But once they reset the search, they took a closer look at him. The curators who flew out to North Carolina, along with Mun Choi, fell head over heels for him. 
    Do they have buyer's remorse 26 games into the investment? I don't suspect that. But if they do - or if they do in two months or a year or two years - then maybe they should sit out the next hire. 
    It seems that some coaches have the ability to recruit and coach winning football teams no matter we’re they go. The it factor. What is it in your opinion distinguishes these coaches from the rest of the field. The former Missouri defense coach went to Missouri State and had a 5 year losing record. Bobby Patrino goes there and his team plays Arkansas to a standstill. We’re does Drink fit in this group?
    Bobby Petrino overhauled the Missouri State roster with transfers. And he's put together a very good FCS team. He's a great coach and has been everywhere he's coached - except the Falcons. He has an established offensive system that works everywhere he's been, except the NFL and when things soured on him during his second tour of duty at Louisville. 
    Are you asking where Drinkwitz ranks between Dave Steckel and Petrino? I'm not really sure how to compare them. Stec struggled to sustain momentum at Missouri State, a very difficult place to win historically. Drinkwitz is much younger than both, inherited an established program at App State and had success there. He's in the midst of a building project at Missouri - but it's too early to call the process a failure. Petrino, "the disingenuous drifter," as Pat Forde once called him, is an established winner with an infamous wandering eye for other jobs. 
    The situation at 10 minutes left in 2Q exemplified what is lacking for Drink. 4th and 1 and he takes a delay of game at 50 yd line, then punts. Showed no confidence in his team in a situation where he could have been building something. Then punter shanks a punt to give possession on the 37. No confidence from Drink and lack of focus for punter. You don’t win games against good competition with those characteristics.
    Do you have confidence his offensive line can convert a short-yardage fourth down? I'm not saying I'd make the same decision, but nothing the last two weeks suggested the Tigers would definitely move the chains there other than blind faith. He clearly trusted his defense more than his offense at that point. Yes, Koetting's punt was bad, and that explains why Drinkwitz benched him in the second half and has gone to a new punter.
    This is a 4-8 team. My position is that Drink should be back for year 4 no matter what. That said, what happens if they finish with 3/4 wins AND a bunch of his highly touted recruits from the last couple of years hit the portal? At that point, what is value of a dead man walking season?
    If that happens, then Reed-Francois has a big decision to make. It's also very much a hypothetical. There's a lot of season left. Mizzou has three SEC opponents, albeit on the road, who are not nearly as good as some thought going into the season: Auburn, Florida and South Carolina. I was higher on the Gamecocks in August. They've been a disappointment. Florida is lucky to be 2-1 - and hasn't thrown a touchdown pass. Auburn was picked last in the SEC West but was also earning votes in the preseason Top 25. I'm not saying Missouri wins those games - or any of those games - but if Drinkwitz gets some things figured out on offense, it's not unreasonable to expect MU to be competitive in all three games. 
    Next year will get here soon enough.
    I think Drink gets year 4 , with a 3 and 9 or 4 and 8.
    I'd be very very surprised if Reed-Francois wants to pay $8.4 million and hire a new coach who will likely cost at least $5 million a year. Maybe that thought changes if 30,000 start showing up for home games but a week after that horrific loss at K-State the largest announced crowd of the Drinkwitz era showed up for an FCS opponent
    If Saturday’s game were being played in Columbia do you feel MU would be favored?
    Doubtful. The fact that it's a 7 or 7.5-point spread at Auburn probably means Auburn would be about a 3- or 4-point favorite in Columbia.
    Are there any young O lineman the staff seems especially high on? Tollison has struggled, but wondering if there’s much up side with the other underclassman? Is it worth giving them a shot if the older guys continue to struggle?
    I think it's too early to give up on Tollison. This experience should make him better. It's time to invest in young talent that can develop and grow. On the flip side, maybe it's time to pass on some of the veteran starters and see what their younger backups can do. Mitchell Walters is someone to watch at guard. I'm not sure Auburn, with 85,000 on hand, is the right place to start true freshman Armand Membou, but he should be on deck at right tackle if Zeke Powell struggles going forward.
    Hello Dave

    I made it a point to watch the receivers as Cook was preparing to throw. Often (usually) there would be a few wide open receivers but Cook would throw into double coverage. There were always better options. Does he not go through a receiver progression, to find an open receiver or does he have his mind made up prior to hiking the ball?
    Are you talking about the Abliene Christian game? I don't recall him making bad decisions in that game. 
    Drinkwitz complimented him this week, saying he's did a better job staying in the pocket last week so he can look to his second receiver if his first option is covered. 
    It's part of the learning process - especially playing behind a leaky O-line. 
    As bad as the 40-12 loss to KSt was 2 weeks ago, how bad is that loss now that Tulane, a college known more for its academics than its football prowess, walks onto the same field that MU was bown out and beats the Wildcats 17-10. How does Eli explain that one. I see only 2 more victories in MU’s remaining games - home games vs Vanderbilt and New Mexico St. i’m beginning to wonder if Mu can beat Vanderbilt which is 3-1 against a lesser schedule so far. You’ve said MU could beat South Carolina at SC. Given MU’s recent road track record,I’m doubtful that will happen. Auburn has scored 59 and 52 points vs MU in their 2 meetings since MU joined the SEC. It’s interesting that Auburn fans are ready to fire their coach after only one mediocre year. Eli has one trait that i like - enthusiasm. But his enthusiasm is not transferring into wins and not transferring into competitive games. Not optimistic at all that the Auburn game will be any different from the KSt road game 2 weeks ago.
    Auburn's last two games against Missouri aren't relevant tomorrow. Both teams have made multiple head-coaching changes since the first meeting. 
    Yes, the K-State loss looks even worse after K-State's loss to Tulane, but that's college football. The transitive property doesn't work. Marshall beat Notre Dame but lost to Bowling Green, which lost to Eastern Kentucky. Does that mean Eastern Kentucky would beat Notre Dame in South Bend? The Irish are struggling but doubtful.
    Who knows. Tulane could turn out to be this year's Cincinnati - and it should shock no one if K-State beats Oklahoma on Saturday. It's what they do.
    Why do you think we're not seeing more D-line pressure on the QB? That was supposed to be a strength of this team with their depth and experience.
    Not excuses but a couple reasons.
    K-State didn't have many standard drop-back passes. They mostly ran the ball, and when they threw it was play-action or rollouts designed to freeze the pass rush or put the edge rushers out of position to pressure. Also with a mobile QB like Adrian Martinez, sometimes you're playing contain on the outside so you don't get too far upfield and he slips by for a long run.
    Against Abilene Christian, Mizzou should always won those matchups in the trenches, but ACU threw behind max protection formations that brought more blockers than Mizzou had rushers. Blake Baker also pointed out ACU's QB got the ball out of his hand in an average of 2.1 seconds. It was a lot of quick short passes. That strategy can neutralize a pass rush but it also requires you to sustain long drives to score touchdowns. Mizzou's defense did a good job of outlasting ACU on those possessions.
    In the comments to your stories, there is an odd little trend of people attacking Desiree Reed-Francois. I’m not here to defend her although she seems to be doing a decent job. I find the attacks, which seem personal, puzzling for someone who has only been on the job for about a year. I don’t remember any other Mizzou AD getting the heat she's taken after one year, especially considering that most of the negative comments have little to do with her performance at Missouri. Have you noticed this? If so, do you have any theories on why it’s happening?
    There's at least one commenter who has a very personal axe to grind against her. It's beyond transparent. I don't pay it much attention. Others seem to focus on her physical appearance and gender more than her credentials or accomplishments. Shocking, right?
    I try to cover the athletics department as fairly and accurately as possible. I've pointed out the challenges she faces. I've reported on the innovations she's introduced. By and large she'll be measured by her hiring decisions in the two major sports.  
    Dave, for the first time I am really concerned about HCED ability to coach at this level. The biggest concern is the O line. He himself said the freshmen closest to the line of scrimmage would have the hardest time getting playing time. Pinkel only started one true freshman OL player, Boehm. Where is the coaching and player development for the OL now under his coaching two years and 3 summers? How can this OL be one of the worst in the nation?
    Don't forget, they recruited Buffalo's starting center to be the starting center this year. He was ruled ineligible for the season. Maybe Tollison would have won the job anyway, but either way, it's his job now. Tollison is a redshirt freshman, appeared in a few games last year. Pinkel also started Elvis Fisher at left tackle as a redshirt freshman. That proved to be a wise investment down the road. The Hyrin White injury was the real unfortunate development. He was a quality SEC tackle last year. 
    But you're right about developing linemen. As I've written several times and said here countless times: Player development is essential at a program like Missouri where you're not recruiting the same caliber of players up and down your roster like the best teams in the conference. Mizzou starts four seniors along the O-line now. Some younger players will have to start next year. They have to be developing their bodies and their games now - not next year.
    Hey, Dave ... we've all noticed, over the years, how some teams have a certain, "nastiness" - and I don't mean that in a pejorative way, I'm talking about the clean, fair-play on the field that just has the, "I'm bringing more emotion and energy to this game than you," bent to it. I haven't seen that out of this Mizzou edition (like we did in 2013, for example). Is that your take and, if so, what you attribute it to, the players' personalities, the coaching, some combination? For me, it's why I dread games like K-State and the one this week in Auburn.
    I'm not sure about that. Guys like Burden, Lovett, Hopper, Abrams-Draine, Manuel, etc., play with that kind of swagger and emotion. Bringinig that kind of energy and confidence on the road isn't always easy, especially for young players AND for older players who haven't had success on the road.
    We've seen some Missouri teams that play that edge to a fault, too. Think about the Odom fans that seemed to draw personal fouls for late hits every other series. There's a fine line between playing with swagger and playing undisciplined. 
    I think these players should just worry about doing their jobs on each play, and if they do that consistently well, they can let those emotions come out more.
    Any thoughts as to why Cox doesn’t get more touches? He seems like a punishing runner which could payoff in the late stages of a game.
    He's not the fastest guy. There was some talk last year about ball-control concerns. I don't understand why he doesn't get more touches. He moves the pile every time he carries the ball. He only has nine carries but his 5.1 yards per carry is the best among MU's running backs. Per Pro Football Focus, he averages 3.6 yards after contact. That's better than Tyler Badie's average last season. Different sample size of carries, obviously. But I'd give him more work.
    It’s felt like the most successful aspect of our offense has been the intermediate passing game. Defenses seem to be focused on stuffing the run and shutting down bubble screens. I don’t know if Cook and this o line can be especially successful with deep balls, but maybe there’s some hope with finding soft spots in zone and getting the ball in the hands of our playmakers at 5 - 10 yards downfield.
    On passes targeting between 0-9 yards dowfield, Cook is completing 61.3%. Thats' near the bottom of the SEC starting quarterbacks. Not great. Same for his yards per attempt from that range (5.1). The yards per attempt is also a reflection of the target's ability to shed tackles and create yards after the catch.
    Cook is much, much better in the 10-19-yard range. His completion percentage on those throws (81.3) is No. 2 in the SEC. His yards per attempt (15.1) is No. 2, only to Stetson Bennett. That's his sweet spot, at least through three games.
    We do have slants in our offensive playbook, yes? I've seen several situations where a quick slant - by football standards, a relatively easy play to execute - would get us important first downs but I can't remember seeing one called, even with receivers like Lovett, Luther and even Mookie who I think would all be close to impossible to stop on a good throw from BCQB1.
    I don't have the breakdown of every route per target by category, but there's this: Nearly 60% of his pass attempts beyond the line of scrimmage have targeted receivers in the middle of the field. It's not all just throws to the perimeter.
    Hey Dave, with the 2023 schedule coming out, the most intriguing part of it for me was the Memphis game not be being listed. From the article you posted, it appears administration at Mizzou is considering trying to get it moved to the Dome. However, I also read yesterday from a publication in Memphis that Mizzou is trying to buy out of the game for $200k I believe. Do you know what is and isn’t true about the situation? Could it be a combination of both that Mizzou has leverage in getting the game moved to St. Louis and if that doesn’t happen, they can just buy out of it relatively inexpensive?
  • Mizzou wants to play Memphis in St. Louis. If Memphis doesn't agree to that move, MU would buy out the game for a very reasonable buyout price of $250K. Reed-Francois wants a game in St. Louis. Busch Stadium is appealing but it's not feasible that weekend. The Cardinals play at home Sept. 21 - and one day probably isn't enough time logistically to reconfigure the field for a football game. The Dome would work as an option. Mizzou has done the homework but needs Memphis to sign off. Stay tuned.
    Just curious. Any news about Mizzou basketball? How often are they practicing? I know with all of the new players it's hard to make a prediction regarding this team but do you think the late signing of Mosely has changed the outlook?
    Mosley's addition changed my outlook. He's a legit Division I scorer. He fills a huge need on the roster as a high-volume, high-percentage shooter. Teams can have individual workouts but full-team preseason practices tip off in October.
    For us novices: what is the issue with the offensive line? Speed, size, teamwork?
    Talent? It doesn't strike me as a uniquely athletic offensive line. This many holding calls comes down to sloppy technique - players getting their hands too far outside on their man. Smart opposing coaches see that and tell the officials to watch closely - and that's how more flags start to pile up.
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