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. Happy Homecoming to those who celebrate. I'll be here for the next couple hours to take your questions. Let's get started.
    I listened to Drink on the Frank Cusomano radio show and was impressed with his vision and determination to improve Missouri football record which included better play and concentrations on recruiting. I just wonder how much our record would have improved this season if we would have got the most successful of the three quarterbacks he wooed before the season started. Also how much better would our defense be if we had not lost Wingo?
    The D-line is a strength of this team - as is the entire defense. So I'm not sure this team has any more wins with Wingo at D-tackle instead of Kristian Williams. He transferred from Oregon to essentially replace Wingo and he's been one of the better players on the entire defense. 
    Clearly, Jayden Daniels at QB would have helped this offense. He's been excellent at LSU. He was the real big miss of the offseason. I'm not sure if JT Daniels would have been a major upgrade considering his mobility issues. And Gerry Bohanon, the Baylor transfer, had a really rough first half and is now lost for the season with a shoulder injury. 
    I want to ask a non-Mizzou question: What do you make of Hendon Hooker's chances of beating Georgia in a couple of weeks and possibly taking UT to the national title game - and what you think of his NFL prospects? I ask because I've watched the kid grow up, here in Greensboro. He led Dudley HS (an athletics leviathan in North Carolina) two a couple of state titles) but in high school, he always seemed like more of a Michael Vick than a Steve Young or Patrick Mahomes, both of whom have/had an ability to run but were/are mainly passers.

    We were surprised when he chose Virginia Tech - Justin Fuentes must have convinced him that, as a QB himself, he could develop Hooker's passing - and Hooker's dad was a start QB here in town at NC A&T ... but Hooker seems like an entirely different player under Heupel's tutelage.
    Heupel has done for Hooker what he did for Drew Lock. He built up his strengths and turned him into a more accurate passer, a dynamic running threat and just a an all-around great playmaker. Obviously Hooker has some raw talent, but Heupel is very good at translating talent into production at the QB position. He did the same for Sam Bradford and Landry Jones at Oklahoma, Lock at Mizzou and now Hooker.
    What is your sense of Brady Cook's mindset, going into the second half of the season? Do you think he feels confident and in charge? Or do you think he's looking over his shoulder and will approach every play as if there is a screw up, his time as QB1 at Mizzou may be over? I sure hope not - he seems like a good kid and if someone beats him out while he's performing to his highest level, this program should be moving up a notch.
    From talking to him last night, I got the sense that Cook is incredibly driven and motivated turn around his play and the team's record. He was very passionate last night in talking about the mistakes he's made and the work he's put in the last couple weeks to improve. No one should doubt this guy's toughness and competitiveness. 
    Now, does that mean he WILL play better? We'll find out around 3 pm on Saturday and the ensuing Saturdays. You can't just speak passing accuracy into existence. He's got to make better decisions, quicker decisions and put the ball where it needs to go. He's incredibly smart. He's got the football IQ to diagnose what went right or wrong on a play. But can he take that intelligence and transfer it into better production? We'll find out.
    One subtle change Drinkwitz discussed this week was changing the launch point of Cook's throws. I interpreted that to mean they'll design more plays to move him around the pocket on rollouts and bootlegs to give him more time and space to make his reads and get the ball downfield. 
    Do you see a situation where Blake Baker puts three LBs on the field - along with the hybrid safety/LB that Martez Manual plays - against teams that are strong in the running game but might have a challenge in the passing game? I always wondered why Pinkel and Dave Steckel didn't at least try to do something a little different vs. Auburn in the 2013 SEC title game - a 5th lineman, another LB - anything to force a great Auburn rushing team to rely more on a not-nearly-as-good passing game. I realize it's not easy to make such a big change late in a season but doing what they did for that game made the result seem like a foregone conclusion (I think the actually went with 3 down lineman and an extra linebacker or DB for much of it, if I remember right).
    Manuel is already a third linebacker essentially. That's what makes this defense versatile. He can go out and cover the slot or a tight end vs. the pass or fit inside the box as a linebacker against the run. That's how Mizzou played Georgia at times a few weeks ago, plus another safety in the box to put eight defenders in position to play the run. Manuel is 6-foot, 213, so it's not like he's undersized to play the run. 
    At Auburn, Mizzou played with five defensive linemen on first and second down most of the game because they knew Auburn couldn't and wouldn't throw. They played three D-tackles flanked by two D-ends.
    I looked at some defensive stats the other day and was pleasantly surprised to see Mizzou at no. 23 in total yards allowed. However the Illini are no. 1, but Ryan Walters wasn’t good enough for Eli to run his defense. Alabama was no. 16 which had me scratching my head since they allowed 52 points to Tennessee Saturday. Since the Vols rolled up 62 points and 685 yards last year in COMO in the rain, it makes me wonder what Tennessee has in store for the Tigers Nov 12 in Knoxville. Since Miz is the last SEC team to lose to Vanderbilt, I sure hope the Tigers can remember the intensity they played in their last home game against UGA. I can swallow a home loss to the Bulldogs even if it was 52-10, better than I can swallow a loss to Vanderbilt anywhere.
    Ryan Walters is a really good coach and most people expect him to be an FBS head coach at this time next year, maybe at Colorado, his alma mater. This is not a knock on Illinois, Bret Bielema, Walters by any means - because they've been outstanding against the schedule put in front of them. I'd vote for Walters as national assistant coach of the year, the Frank Broyles Award. I bet he's a finalist. And Bret has done a great job installing systems and building a culture that fit his identity and brand as a coach. No one should be surprised if they go 9-3 or 10-2.
    But they haven't exactly played a bunch of offensive juggernauts. We can't ignore the reality. Here's where Illinois' six FBS opponents rank nationally (out of 131 teams) in yards per play, which is a better stat than yards per game:
    Wyoming: No. 112
    Indiana: No 125
    Virginia: No. 97
    Wisconsin: No. 43
    Iowa: No. 130
    Minnesota: No. 30
    Should Drinkwitz have tried harder to keep Walters? Maybe, but Ryan has made it clear he wanted to work for a head coach who could teach him how to become a head coach at this level - and at the time, Drinkwitz wasn't exactly that experienced on the job. Either way, Mizzou ended up with a really good coordinator in Blake Baker - and Walters ended up in a good situation at Illinois.
    Do you think they will redshirt Luther Burden? His freshman year isn't amounting to much so far. My opinion is the Tigers are not far away from being a decent team. Good grief, keep this defensive co-ordinator. I think he has worked wonders. Thanks, Dave.
    No, he can't redshirt. He's played in six games and will play Saturday.
    What do you think will be the most interesting story coming out of the second half of the football season?
    I appreciate the question, but how can we know until it happens? The quarterback situation is going to be worth watching, but I have no idea how it'll unfold. Do more freshmen see the field in expanded roles? If the defense keeps playing at this level and gets little to no support from the offense, is that locker room strong enough to keep from imploding?
    Hi Dave - Does LBIII play this week?
    Yes. Drinkwitz said on his radio show last night that Lovett and Burden "should be back full speed, ready to roll."
    With the new Transfer rules and the Covid year, It is getting difficult to tell who has eligibility left these days and who does not. What is the status of most of our basketball players this year? Are most of these guys in their final year or are they "Seniors" with eligibility left? I'm just not sure what to expect with how many guys will be coming back next year or how much well have to dip into the transfer portal to supplement our HS recruiting class.
    I agree. it can be confusing. The following players have only this upcoming season left in terms of eligibility: D'Moi Hodge, Tre Gomillion and Deandre Gholston. 
    A few more players are listed as seniors or graduates but have two years of eligibility available (this year and 2023-24): Nick Honor, Kobe Brown, Isaiah Mosley.
    Any sense on what Mizzou's Starting 5 and rotation will look like for this upcoming season?

    Our schedule seems so easy to start. What do you think their record will be entering the kU game. Feels like we could be getting our hopes up just in time to get our dreams crushed for the remainder of the season starting with that game.
  • Man, it's already doom and gloom three weeks before the season starts? It's a soft runway to December - by design. Mizzou better be 7-0 heading into the Nov. 29 game at Wichita State. That's very winnable but it's on the road against a good program. An 8-1 or 9-0 record is reasonable heading into the Kansas game on Dec. 10. From there, you've got UCF and Illinois. A 10-2 start going into a nasty stretch to open SEC play (Kentucky, at Arkansas) would be respectable. Beat Kansas or Illinois and you're playing with some house money at 11-1.
    Curious, have you had an opportunity to talk with Heupel, Odom, or other former MU coaches about the differences in their current programs compared to Missouri? I'm interested to hear about fan/alumni support, facilities, support from the administration and other factors that make up the operation of a football program.
    Is MU on par, what are the differences?
    I keep in touch with Odom somewhat, mostly text messages here and there, usually in the offseason. But we're not chopping it up about the differences between Mizzou and Arkansas. I know he's very happy in Fayetteville. The fan support there is very strong. They're the only show in town - and by town, I mean the whole state. They love their Hogs down there and the support is far more unconditional than what he experienced as a player and coach at Mizzou.
    I never got to know Heupel well enough to talk off the record. Good guy but very guarded and keeps a very small inner circle. 
    Dave, what kind of crowd will Mizzou football bring to the Dome against Memphis? Any chance that game could be moved to Busch? Everyone complains about the Dome, but I always thought it was a fine place to watch a football game. Maybe not an elite NFL stadium, but that’s a whole other conversation.
    Hard to say a year out what kind of crowd will be on hand. Unfortunately for Mizzou, a lot will hinge on how this season plays out. If Mizzou goes 4-8 or worse, I'm sure the demand for those tickets will be a lot different than if Drinkwitz gets the Tigers in a bowl and builds some excitement for 2023.
    As I wrote earlier this month, Reed-Francois initially talked to the Cardinals about playing the game at Busch Stadium, but the Cards are scheduled to finish a seven-game homestand there on Sept. 21. That's not enough time to reconfigure the playing surface for a football game less than two days later.
    Her team scouted the Dome this summer and came away satisfied with the Dome's ability to host a game there next year.
    Many times we hear rumors about how players that haven't necessarily seen the field are doing in practice. I remember hearing about how "electric" Murphy and Josey looked in practices before we ever saw them in a game. I was wondering have you heard coaches, players, supporters of the program mention anything about Horn? I know Drink mentioned him throwing a couple of TD's in a recent scrimmage, but was curious has there been any leaked info on his progression, athletic ability, etc?
    I don't report on rumors. If I'm told something substantial about practices from sources I trust I'll gladly share that. 
    Last week the coaches took a very close look at Horn. They gave him a set number of very routine plays to run. He looked great running some plays. He looked something far less than great running the other plays. From what I understand we're not talking about complicated plays with 50-yard passes - just routine plays that are staples of the offense.
    Here's a good look at the homecoming uniforms modeled by Kris Abrams-Draine. Gold jerseys, gold facemasks on black helmets featuring the sailor Tiger logo.
    Just curious, are scholarships guaranteed once they are accepted or can they be removed if the player is not developing in the sport? In other words if a player is not making progress enough to be a contributor to the team, can the coach cancel the scholarship for the next year?
    Unless you sign a guaranteed four-year scholarship agreement - and most schools don't offer those - then they're legally only good for one year. It's bad PR to take away a scholarship unless the player has off-field discipline issues, but the savvy coaches pull it off, essentially telling the athlete that they're better off transferring because they don't have a future in the program.
    I think if Coach Drink was not so conservative, made better play calls and displayed the offensive acumen we thought… He had, Missouri would be five and one right now. Am I the only one that thinks that?
    What conservative play calls did you not like? Most criticism I gathered from fans after the Georgia game was that he wasn't conservative enough late and called three downfield throws without running the ball. They also ran a trick play against UGA that ended up getting Dominic Lovett hurt deep in the backfield. 
    Setting up the game-winning field goal with the best kicker in the country is not a conservative decision. He just missed the kick. 
    Obviously when you're 2-4 with three narrow losses there are plays you wish you called differently but the real issues with this team offensively come down to execution. Dropped passes. missed throws. Bad blocking technique, which leads to holding penalties and tackles for loss in the backfield. Part of play-calling is putting your players in the best position to have success, but I don't see the problem being he's too conservative. If anything I think they can afford to be more conservative at times.
    I really like what defensive coordinator Blake Baker has brought to the current defensive team. I think personnel wise this version is surely much better than what Wilkes was working with. The second half of the season, once the players picked up the system and performed the way they should, showed that. A coach can only do so much with what they have. But it sort of really irks me when people badmouth previous DC Steve Wilkes. This I’ve heard from you also Dave. Tell me what you mean when you say someone (Wilkes) didn’t know the College game? Is not football, football? I’m sure Wilkes has seen offenses much more complicated offenses, scheme wise than anything he saw while coaching at Missouri. Would not any NFL coach, have the knowledge, experience to out coach any college coach?
    Early in the season Wilks said he was still getting used to the different hash marks in the college game. Football isn't football in every case. The fields are different between college and the NFL when it comes to the hash marks. They factor into your coverages and your alignment. When he said that, it raised a red flag. (I've shared his hashmarks comment with a few other coaches I respect and their eyes almost shot out of their sockets.)
    He also took the season's first month to decide if he wanted to coach from the box or the sideline. Players need consistency from their coaches - and they just didn't get that early last year. 
    Also, the Tennessee game. He came out with an unconventional scheme that Tennessee figured out in two plays and shredded on the first couple drives. He moved Mizzou's best D-tackle to middle linebacker. It didn't work a bit. After the game I heard from coaches at other programs who thought it was laughable what Mizzou attempted in that game. And to his credit, Wilks later said it was a huge mistake on his part.
    So, yes, there were signs that he wasn't a good fit for the college game. That's not a personal knock on Steve. He was very likable. The players seemed to enjoy his personality and style. But the adjustment to the NFL was much more difficult than anyone expected. 
    Hi Dave,
    Has Mizzou or the SEC ever pushed for more Friday night games with ESPN. I like how the Big 10 schedules at least one game every Friday night. They could make it the Bean Pot Championship tournament. Mizzou v South Carolina, MS St v Kentucky, etc.

    Thanks for your time.
    I've never heard that there's any appetite for Friday night games in the SEC. A lot of coaches are anti-Friday night games because they believe those nights are for high school games, especially in the South and in Texas where HS football is more popular. There's a recruiting angle, too. Coaches want their recruits at the college game. That's impossible on Friday nights.
    Good day to you Dave, and hope all is well your way. You hear it all the time: a new Athletic Director and the head coaches that were there before him/her sometimes leads to a bad mix. In all your years covering Mizzou and your knowledge of College Football in general, is a lot of it something of an "ego thing" where that new AD is just itching to get rid of a head coach hired by the previous AD so they can bring a new head coach-hire in that they consider their ideal guy for the job? Relating to Mizzou, I of course am wondering how close of a working relationship does Desiree have with Coach Drink?
    I don't sense that there's any major issues. In her 14 months at Mizzou she's done a lot for his program: the Thursday opener, the Memphis game, all the game-day innovations. She OK'd the expanded staff additions he asked for. I spent some time with them together at an event over the summer and they appeared to get along well. Eli's wife and Desiree's husband worked together on a charity project earlier this fall. 
    Then again, you're not supposed to be best pals with your boss. Mun Choi said something interesting last year when he hired Desiree, essentially that there's always some healthy tension between a coach and his/her boss and his/her boss as well. 
    I asked you about Cuonzo in a recent chat and you said you do still keep in touch with him. Any indications from him that he has a desire to wind up back in coaching again someday? Silly question to add to this I know, but of all the basketball hires that have not worked out at MU since the days of Norm Stewart, which one do you think Mizzou fans were sorry to see it not work out with and have to be let go the most? For me personally, it was Coach Martin.
    We haven't talked about coaching, but he has other plans to explore and roles where he can impact lives in the sport and beyond the sport. He's using this time to catch his breath and figure out the next chapter.
    A couple of questions regarding this year's men's 🏀 schedule: How come Liberty not on basketball non-con home schedule for MU this season? I think we've had a 1-1 with them thus far, but for some reason I thought it was supposed to be a 2-for-1, with Liberty playing again at MU this year. Perhaps I'm wrong on that. They've obviousl built themselves into a decent 🏀 program...as last season's MU squad can certainly attest to! 😡
    2.The stupidity of "Orange Bowl classic" that Mizzou 🏀 is playing in this year: stupid that it's only one game. Why is that? Why in the hell not make it an actual mini-tourment where winner of first 2 games play each other next day for championship?
    Or at very least, if only going to be one game, why yet another match with UCF  which it feels like we've played umpteen times in the last 5 or 6 years? How could organizers of this event not see that the more intriguing matchup for Mizzou would be either FSU or St. Johns???
    Also, when is MU going to get back into playing in a more exciting non-con 🏀 tournament like the one in Hawaii or the Bahamas?
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