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, chatters. I'll let a few more questions come in before we get started.
    I was relieved to hear HCED finally say something about Sam Horn (as well as some other Freshmen). I’ve been watching Mizzou QBs since Gary Lane. The way I see it Cook is simply not an SEC caliber QB. I think it’s imperative for Horn to be the starter next year for the Tigers to be successful. Cook has no command presence, continuously fails to find open receivers and his INTs speak for themselves. I think Drink should give Horn significant playing time from here on out. Maybe we lose a game because of a Freshman mistake but it’s essential that he’s ready for next year. Does your crystal ball say we see Horn against Vandy? If not then, when?
    Here's what I know based on what Drinkwitz had to say yesterday and some other recent conversations I've had: The coaches would love for Horn to prove he can step on the field and manage the offense successfully. He's getting the chance to prove in practice this week that he can handle all the nuances of the job. It's not just about who has the strongest arm to throw a 40-yard go route down the sideline. He has to show he can execute all the simple but easily overlooked parts of the job. Taking the snap, making the hand-off, reading the coverage pre-snap, knowing where the sticks are, etc.
    Mizzou averages 68 offensive plays per game. Only five of those are vertical shots (20+ yard passes). That leaves another 63 plays for the quarterback to manage, from handoffs, to run read options, to run-pass options, to screens, to short and intermediate throws. And when coaches make decisions on their quarterbacks, it's more often about their floors not their ceilings. They usually don't go with the guy who has the highest ceiling; they go with the guy with the highest floor, the one whom they trust won't mess up the routine plays. 
    Drinkwitz's job is on the line here. He knows that. Not necessarily at the end of this season, but his career ultimately hinges on these decisions. And he's not going to play a quarterback he doesn't believe is the best suited to execute all those parts of the job to put Mizzou in position to win. If Horn proves he can do those things, then maybe we see him get some snaps.
    Keep in mind, no matter if it's Cook or Horn or Patrick Mahomes at QB for Mizzou, that player will still have to play through the negative plays in the run game that result in second and 14 and third and 19 ... the O-line penalties that back up the offense ... the outside receivers who can't seem to get separation downfield ... the non-existent threat from the tight ends. 
    The season in my mind has been better than I thought it would be. I knew the offense was going to struggle, in the SEC. you must have a dynamic QB., Cook has shown some improvement and is as tough as it gets but he isn't a game changer,0 and we all knew that. The defense has been a huge suprise and has kept us in games. I still think we win 4 games and I really hope Drink is given year 4.4
    I picked Mizzou to be 2-4 through six games and had them at 6-6 for the season with wins over Vanderbilt, Kentucky, New Mexico State and Arkansas in the second half. I still think that's possible if the offense can eliminate the negative plays and sustain more drives.
    When does mizzou basketball get started and what are the projections? decent team or more of the same? Is there a standout player that could carry the team?
    They're practicing now. No media access yet. First game is Nov. 7. I just filled out my SEC predictions for the media's All-SEC team and standings. It's essentially a crapshoot with all the new coaches and new players throughout the league. I slotted Mizzou at No. 9 in the SEC in the same ballpark as Florida, LSU, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Georgia. If Gates' new roster clicks together in place then maybe Mizzou's a top-half of the league team. If not, they're somewhere in that 10 to 14 range. These are essentially blind projections right now because there's so much turnover across the league. Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Auburn should all be very good. And likely Alabama and Texas A&M. Otherwise, it's hard to project. 
    I considered putting Isiaih Mosley on my All-SEC ballot but he just missed the cut. He's got all the tools to be one of the league's best scoring perimeter players. 
    It seems to me there are two ways to succeed in college football, today. The first is the Alabama way, getting loads of 5 and 4 star players, many of whom leave ASAP (isn't the rule that they're not draft eligible until their third year out of high school?) Maybe half a dozen schools are in this category.

    The other way is to get enough 4 star players and a lot of 3 star kids you can develop and let them play (fairly) early. This can be Mizzou's level, with the right AD, coaches and fan support. I'd say maybe another third or so of FBS teams are in this category. The challenge with this level is you'll always be the underdog to the Alabama set and every few years, you'll have to, "retool," and play your next set of young players to get them to the point where they can compete with most every other team.

    It seems to me under AD DRF and HC ED, we're on the march to that level. I see the critical mass of potential (admittedly, not yet developed) that will begin to blossom in the next year or two, if we can keep them (and most of this coaching staff) together. I'd like your input on both my overall theory, where/whether Mizzou fits into it and my long distance evaluation of this team. I'll hang up and take my answer off the air.
    I'd say there are more teams in your Alabama category than half a dozen. Bama, Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan, Texas, Oregon, USC, Tennessee, Auburn. These are generally the teams landing the most five-star and higher-end four stars over the last several years. 
    Other usually strong programs that don't recruit at that level but still produce winning teams - Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas State, etc. - have to stronger at identifying and developing talent. That's how Gary Pinkel won at Missouri. 
    For the last two classes, Drinkwitz has recruited top 20 classes, but Mizzou can't win without developing talent and turning the three- and four-star players into four- and five-star performers. There's just not enough in-state talent and not enough raw out-of-state talent coming to MU to build a championship team without consistent player development.
    Writing from Dr waiting room . Gotta say even with the frustration of the Missou losses and weaknesses, I find this team enjoyable to watch . My question is if you think the typical Mizzou fan has finally come to the reality that Luther Burden’s problems and lack of ball touches is more a reflection of his rookie and still learning status rather thank coach Drink not being aggressive enough in play action for him?
    I can't speak for what Mizzou fans believe when it comes to Burden's production and touches. I'd advise against putting stock into what the loudest voices on TV say on the topic and pay more attention to those of us regularly covering the team and covering the games. 
    Through six games, Burden has been targeted 35 times. That's tied for 11th in the SEC.
    He has more targets than anyone who plays for Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss, Kentucky, South Carolina, Auburn, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, UCLA, Colorado, Oregon, Penn State, Rutgers, Iowa, Minnesota, Clemson, Syracuse, North Carolina and Miami. That's nearly one-third of the Power Five conferences. 
    Translation: Mizzou is throwing him the ball. 
    He's been targeted 35 times. He's only caught 18 passes, which is tied for 27th in the SEC. And he's only averaged 6.3 yards per catch.
    Here's what I'm seeing: He's not getting much separation from coverage. Defenders are being VERY physical with him - and it knocks him off his route. He doesn't catch the ball cleanly. Cook has forced him the ball, which is probably related to all the talk/criticism/noise that he's not getting enough touches. Plus, he's not playing on a healthy ankle. That can't be ignored. 
    Drinkwitz admitted last year he didn't handle Mookie Cooper's foot injury the right way and admitted he didn't handle Dominic Lovett's role the right way. Maybe a year from now he'll say he didn't handle Burden's role/injury the right way. 
    All of that being said, he's still just a freshman who's going up against grown men for the first time in his football life. That's a big adjustment.
    Can players play in 4 games before burning a redshirt year? If so do you think Horn will play the last 4 games and keep his redshirt? This may not be the case at all but I thought that was a real thing?
    Yes, they can play in four games without the year counting against their eligibility. The games to play Horn were Louisiana Tech and Abilene Christian. I think it would  be wise to get him game experience before 2023. Drinkwitz clearly wants him to earn that opportunity. Did he do enough this week? We'll find out.
    I do get amazed by how some fans romanticize some situations. The latest one I've seen is the, "Why not throw Sam Horn in there to see what he can do," as if this is either a scrimmage or these players come delivered from Amazon, SEC game-ready.

    Even not being in practice, it seems fairly obvious that a kid who didn't enroll early for spring ball and has never seen anything close to these kinds of opponents trying to put him on the DL, it would be disastrous not just for a team that is still working toward a potential bowl game (and all the money and extra practice sessions that brings) but for the kid, as well, who could suffer serious physical and mental harm being put in over his head. Drew Lock had a small version of that shellshock his freshman year - another QB who didn't play the game, year-round, and had it seems a slower development arc because of it.
    Excellent points. It would be a completely different scenario if Mizzou had a robust, reliable offensive line and Horn could play game manager behind the blocking and never worry about negative plays or getting constantly clobbered by pass rushers. But that's not the case with this team. That has to be a factor here. As long as bowl eligibility and a winning season are on the line, you can't just throw players out there to see how they do. I think it has to be based on what they've earned. It's not fair to the seniors on defense who are doing all they can to have one last winning season before their careers are over to just throw some freshmen out there on offense who haven't proven they're ready for this level. 
    And that's not saying Cook has played well or isn't responsible for his mistakes. But they clearly trust him to function in the offense.
    I noticed ESPN's Bill Connolly's tweet about QB rankings that had Brady Cook #76 ... but significantly ahead of a pretty darn good (and seasoned) NC State QB in Devin Leary, Gerry Bohanon at 97 (though he doesn't have a lot to work with at USF) and Spencer Rattler at 99 (for the record, Bazelak is at 100). This was based off Total QBR.
    Some readers probably didn't like my first-half grade for the QB position in yesterday's story. I went with C-minus. (Although, that's not a good grade. I teach a class on campus and you have to retake it another time if you get a C-minus.) But here's why I didn't give him a worse grade. He was more than good enough in the two wins. Cook twice had Mizzou in position to win the game at Auburn. That game wasn't on him. He could have been better in the second half against Georgia, but I didn't see him as the primary reason Mizzou lost that game. When Cook's  best receiver was healthy, Mizzou had a two-score lead. Clearly he struggled at Kansas State, just like everyone on offense. And he had the two costly turnovers at Florida. Otherwise, I think he's played well enough for Mizzou to at least be 3-3 if not maybe 4-2. 
    He needs to cut down on the interceptions. No doubt. He needs to be sharper on third down. I'd say he needs to go to his other reads more quickly, but that depends on pass protection. 
    What moves would you make this off-season to try and fix our line play? Is the portal the answer or are we not coaching our guys up enough?
    I can't speak for what happens in practice to really know how they're being coached. Double down on your young starters and develop them physically this offseason. That's Tollison and Walters. There's no guarantee Hyrin White recovers from his injury and plays another year. Mizzou could be replacing both tackles and the left guard. Get the true freshmen bulked up and ready to compete for jobs.
    I'd also hit the portal hard for ready-made linemen with multiple years of eligibility, not just one-year placeholders. 
    Then again, you can win with young players on your O-line. Ole Miss is a top 10 program and has redshirt freshmen at right and left tackle.
    Thoughts on the: following
    1) Thought Mizzou had reputation as not traveling well but in games I've been to -- Auburn, LSU, UGA, Tenn -- Mizzou has been very well represented.
    2) Hope AD, B of C, give Drinkwitz more time. He's made mistakes but his potential to grow in the role, recruiting, ability to fix weaknesses (defense in '21), awareness of what it will take to succeed in SEC (trying to upgrade QB), good success in portal, schemes to compensate for weaknesses (offensive line), age, etc., all suggest high upside for him.
    3) Please, please never wear the unis with Tigers in "Hello Kitty" scrpt. All it lacked was sequins.
    4) If Oklahoma struggles continue, any chance KC/OKla commits reconsider MIzzou? Thanks.
    1. Mizzou travels well compared to some teams but not compared to the best teams in the SEC. 
    2. For Mun Choi and the Board of Curators to make a coaching change they'll have to admit they were absolutely wrong on the hire less than 36 months ago. I don't see them making that admission so soon. It's in their best interest to stick this out. Remember, the BoC and Choi stepped into the process when they flew from Columbia to North Carolina to all but take the hiring process out of the hands of the AD. Jim Sterk was still involved, but they made sure he wasn't traveling alone. Also, the last time Mizzou didn't allow a football head coach to reach his fourth season was 1934. (I'm not counting Frank Broyles, who left on his own for Arkansas.)
    3. I don't get too worked up over uniforms, but the Tiger script is not for me.
    4. Oklahoma still has more wins than Missouri, so if OU is struggling, why would the Sooner commits pick a program that's doing worse?
    Hey Dave. I know KC is still a priority for Mizzou, but it seems like STL has become an even bigger priority. With the departure of Mizzou to the SEC, the KC media seem to focus more on KU and KState. Mizzou, for example, has the worst radio coverage of the three. Do you get the sense that the Athletic Dept senses this and is looking for ways to get Mizzou more in the forefront of the KC media? Thanks.
  • Honestly, it's of zero interest to me. I just assume Mizzou fans follow my coverage at the Post-Dispatch and listen to me and my colleagues at KTRS 550 in St. Louis (you can read and listen online from KC) and that's all the coverage you need. Seriously, give it a try. You're already here for the chat. Why do you need KC radio/media?
    I'm conflicted on the QB play of Brady Cook. At times he looks like an adequate SEC quarterback and at other times appears not a D-1 talent.
    In the three one score losses he's had opportunities in each to construct a potential game winning drive and has failed each time. Late in games he's missed on crucial throws.
    In other words, changing nothing but the QB, would a more talented player succeed in this offense where he has come up short?
    Would a more talented player erase the 52 plays that have gone for negative yardage - most of those handoffs to the running back? I don't think so. So, again, no matter who plays QB, those O-line issues are going to exist.
    I'll admit I'm not on the Drink train, but I do believe he should come back next year regardless of the outcome the rest of the way. With that said, what should be the reasonable expectations next year? I hope next year 6 wins won't be seen as progress (I remind people that even though the Odom years seem rough he was still fired after a 6 win season that had followed 8 and 7 wins) Thanks and enjoy the Mizzou coverage as always!!!
    You have to have a winning season in year four. It can't be about hope and potential. Drinkwitz is 13-16 at Mizzou through 29 games and 8-13 in SEC games.
    Through 29 games, Barry Odom, though with fewer conference games, was 14-15 and 6-11 in SEC games. 
    In Drinkwitz's 29 games, MU has been outscored 911-796.
    Through Odom's first 29 games, MU outscored its opponents 1,025 to 899.
    It's been a worse 29-game start by the simplest of measures. So, regardless how this year finishes, you have to start winning games in 2023. 
    What's the story with Auburn and their struggles? I see you have them in the "Alabama Tier" but they are playing in the Mizzou / Vandy Tier.
    Auburn played for the national championship nine years ago, won it all 12 years ago and regularly recruits top 15 classes and puts lots of players in the NFL. With the right coach, Auburn is a borderline elite program.
    Besides the Mizzou/Memphis FB game, have you heard any other rumblings of the events coming to the St. Louis area next year? Even if you've just heard sports, that would help.
  • Nothing concrete. I'd assume baseball, softball, soccer, wrestling and gymnastics will have some kind of events in the area as part of the Zou to the Lou agreement.
    We beat Vandy on homecoming after a bye week, right? Or would a loss mean it's time to hit the panic button? The second half everyone, save for Tennessee, seems beatable. I hope they take the lessons learned and apply it to what seems like more evenly matched opponents.
    Always enjoy the insight!
    Mizzou will be favored over Vanderbilt, but the Dores have a functional, competent offense. The Tigers will have to score some points to win that game. (And by points I mean more than 20.) 
    Vandy hasn't won an SEC game since beating you know who in 2019. If I'm a player or coach in that program, I've got the Missouri game circled as a great chance to end that skid. Because you know they're tired of hearing about the losing streak. You can't overlook that team. Ole Miss messed around for a while last week and kept Vandy in the game before running away in the second half. 
    does the transfer portal hurt mid majors more than the bigger schools? Like with Isaih Mosley from MSU to Mizzou are the best players from small schools just going to transfer up to bigger schools? That kind of makes the small schools a proving ground for players overlooked.
  • The portal door swings both ways. Yes, the mid-majors are vulnerable to losing their best players every year. They also get to add players who wash out of their high-major teams. Look at New Mexico State. They added two double-digit SEC scorers in Xavier Pinson and DaJuan Gordon. They're going to win some games in the WAC with two experienced high-major guards.
    Look no further than SLU. Javon Pickett is a huge pickup for an A-10 program coming from Missouri. One national outlet has picked Pickett as the A-10 newcomer of the year. He'll bring value to that SLU team that maybe wasn't as appreciated in the SEC. 
    If I remember correctly Gary Pinkle didn't play Brad Smith as a Freshman so he wouldn't be physically and mentally deformed.
    Pinkel (ahem) started Kirk Farmer because he was older and more experienced at the college level even though he knew Brad Smith had a bright future.
    Last week Brady Cook threw 2 INTs (not entirely his fault), but also made his most impressive throws of the season. He's starting to finally get into a rhythm and convert 3rd downs. I'm not against them getting Horn some snaps, but with the O-Line looking like the worst one MU's had in a long time and the receivers both banged up and several not very good at getting open (but very talented), how should Drink handle the 2nd half? When do you stop caring about the record and start preparing to be better next season?
    You stop caring about the record once you lose seven games and can't play in the postseason. Yes, nobody is going to throw Mizzou a parade for making the Birmingham Bowl or whatever lower-tier bowl they'd make at 6-6, but 6-6 is a lot different than 5-7 ... whereas 5-7 is no different than 4-8. 
    That does't mean you have to wait until you clinch a losing season to play young players. If I were the $4M coach who's three games under .500, I'd give the rookie some snaps now as long as I've seen enough in practice to believe he can handle the stage. 
    On the second interception by Cook our receiver was hit and pushed by Jaydon Hill before Hill stepped in front to make the interception at the 5 yard line. I looked at this play in slow motion after the game to see what had happened. It could be said that both players were going for the ball but it could be called pass interference. In real time it was hard to see.
  • That's called life in the SEC. Big, strong, physical defensive backs push and pull before the ball gets there. Mizzou's DBs should try doing that more because they can't throw a flag every play.
    I asked Dominic Lovett what the receivers learned from Florida's aggressive defensive backs in that game.
    "We're in the SEC. We're not going to get all the calls. Our coach, Coach Peeler, does a drill called SEC Drill where you've got make touch catches while you're getting held or the ball might not be perfectly placed. We're in the SEC. It's the best of the best. You're not going to get that ticky tack call.  If you're being held, just make the play."
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