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, Mizzou chatters. Lots to talk about today. I'll be here for the next couple hours. Ben Frederickson and I are recording this week's podcast after the chat. Let's get to it.
    Just my speculation, but Drink saying he might give up play calling tells me he knows he is on thin ice. The athletic director is very motivated to improve things and if the football program isn't getting better she will make a change. I wonder if Horn just isn't as good as Drink thought. For him not to get 1 snap is pretty telling. Burden has done some good things but it is like he is forgotten for long stretches during the game. 4 and 8 will most likely be the record , then you got to wonder if the President who wants a SEC athletic program will won't a new coach. But somehow keep Baker.
    For one, it can be difficult to hire a new coach and tell him he has to keep the staff. Coaching candidates don't like being told who they have to hire - and incumbent assistants don't always want to work for a new head coach either.
    As for the link between job pressure and giving up play-calling, I believe Drinkwitz's admission is more about problem solving than job security. Yes, he wants to keep his job, but if he believes that he's stretched too thin and it's better for the team and the offense for him to give up that role - like he did giving up the QB coaching duties - then he'll consider it. I wouldn't see the move as being solely motivated by keeping his job. Because a smart AD doesn't let a massive decision like firing a coach hinge on play-calling. 
    Pretty disappointed in Missouri women's basketball not doing anything to get better. In the SEC you must have good bigs , unless the bigs coming back have improved greatly we don't have bigs that can compete. Very confusing with the portal why nothing was done.
    I've heard good things about Jayla Kelly as being much improved in the frontcourt. She was the only player in double figures last night.
    Dave: Thanks for your excellent work covering all things Mizzou. I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that DFR may have to replace HCED in spite of all the negatives that necessarily come with such a change. I believe he has failed in the following respects: QB. It should have been obvious to a blind man that he knew Cook was not an SEC caliber QB when he chased 3 different QBs in the portal but, in spite of that, he has refused to give Sam Horn, the future, playing time. Horn should be playing now even with the likely growing pains so he’s ready for 2023. His failure to play Horn now demonstrates an lack of leadership. Compare that to Dabo Swinney who pulled his starter last week and inserted Freshman Caleb Kublink for the 2nd half with Clemson trailing Syracuse in a must win game for them. With everything on the line he made the bold move and it happened to work. Meanwhile, HCED gives mealy mouth excuses-the lead wasn’t big enough. Damn. Swinney pulled the trigger when trailing. That’s leadership.
    The offensive line struggles. They have been pathetic. Yet, Drink gave us no indication preseason that the O line might struggle. If he didn’t know that demonstrates incompetence. If he did know his failure to come clean demonstrates a lack of leadership-again. Pinkel didn’t make alibis early in his tenure. He simply acknowledged that we weren’t very good but assured us he had a plan to bring us back. Leadership. Contrast that with Drink.
    The it’s my fault excuse after each failure doesn’t cut it. He keeps telling us it’s his fault and he’s got to be better but it doesn’t get better.
    Please let me know if you disagree with any of my points and, if so, why. I don’t see the leadership you expect from a head coach. Do you?
    He certainly wanted to upgrade the QB position - and we can see why. And he also clearly doesn't believe Horn is ready to play without a safety net. Maybe that's a misread on his part, but I don't see practices to say whether or not Horn is ready to face SEC defenses. 
    It's alarming that two injuries have wrecked the O-line this badly in year three. The player development there seems to be lacking. 
    That said, I'm not sure those two factors are enough to justify a coaching change two and a half years into a regime. It doesn't inspire a lot of confidence for the future, but the one positive about the last couple years has been the recruiting - though many of those high-end recruits have yet to see the field. Should that buy a struggling coach more time? Tough call. Is Mizzou's football program and athletics department at a place where you cut ties with a head coach sooner than ever before in the program's modern day history? Not since the 1930s has a Mizzou coach not been given the chance to return for a fourth season on the job. Should the two highly ranked recruiting classes get a chance to develop before the guy who brought them here gets shown the door? 
    I'm not advocating one way or another - just presenting the questions/dilemma that Mizzou leaders might have to face depending on how the next few weeks unfold.
    Good morning Dave,
    On paper, in your opinion, by 12/10/22 will Coach have his team rotation down and chemistry build to beat KU at home?
    Us Tiger fans originally from Kansas City MO hate KU.
    ?
    Good question. This team is going to be fairly deep. They have the luxury of seven easy games to figure out rotations. I would think by the Kansas game they'll have a good grasp of who can handle each role and how many minutes they'll command on a nightly basis.
    Do Mizzou and other Div. 1 football programs have junior varsity games? I'm wondering about this from standpoint of player development, especially with inexperienced roster. Several years ago McKendree College - NAIA at the time - had four JV games each season.
  • No, there are no JV football games. The players who are redshirting get extended practice reps during bye weeks and bowl practices, but they don't play in organized games.
    Good day to you Dave--hope all is well your way. Could this scenario possibly happen? A 4-8 finish for Mizzou this season leads to a lot of angry key players demanding behind closed doors that Coach Drink be gone or else they will be(ie Luther Burden, Tavorous Jones, etc)? Let's face it Dave: in this day and age of the Transfer Portal and
    crooked greedy sleazeball Coaches and Boosters alike from other schools foaming at the mouth to steal top talent anyway-- what with looser restrictions for said crooked greedy sleazeballs to be--well--even more crooked greedy sleazeballs thanks to NIL deals legally allowing them to do so--let's not pretend the proverbial inmates now aren't capable of having the power to run the assylum.
    Any scenario is possible in this day and age. And it doesn't have to be players who aren't seeing the field. Mekhi Wingo was a starter, played a ton of snaps and made the All-SEC Freshman team - and still transferred last year. It's impossible to predict, especially in October. Starters transfer. Backups transfer. Redshirts transfer.
    Also, keep in mind: That transfer door swings both ways. I guarantee you that this time last year Florida didn't expect to lose Ty'Ron Hopper, much less to another team in the SEC East. 
    Is there a realistic scenario that you can see happening right nowwhere this season's abysmal Mizzou offensive line bounces back next season to be vastly improved?
    Sure. You probably wondered the same thing about Mizzou's defense last year at this time - and a year later Mizzou has one of the best defenses in the SEC. 
    Remember Mitch Morse? He had a pretty terrible first year starting on the Mizzou O-line. He played center and literally couldn't snap the ball. A decade later he's earned more than $45 million in the NFL and is regarded as one of the best centers in the game - and plays for the NFL's best team. It is possible that players improve from one year to the next. Connor Tollison is learning on the job - against the best D-linemen in college football. Same for Mitchell Walters. This offseason will be pivotal in developing starters at the two tackle positions, but that's what offseasons are for.
    Dave - Do you think Mizzou has been on an 8 year rebuild since GP's last year or has this been a normal progression of getting a new program in place? Thank You
    I wouldn't call it a normal progression but just a series of false starts. By year three under Odom, things seemed rebuilt pretty well. You had a franchise quarterback in place, some NFL talent on both sides of the ball and the program appeared to overcome the loss of Josh Heupel. But then in year four, things fell apart. The hand-picked QB didn't work out. The second-year offensive coordinator had no solutions. Other programs in the conference seemed to pass Mizzou by - or Mizzou couldn't do enough to overtake other struggling teams.
    Since then it's been a continuation of stops and starts. The 2020 season was very promising. Drinkwitz breathed fresh air into the program. He had a good young QB, some promising young playmakers. Then came the defensive meltdown of 2021 and now the offensive meltdown of 2022.
    Obviously Mizzou's biggest problem on offense is the offensive line. The same 5 guys have pretty much played every game with no discernible improvement. 4 of the 5 are srs/grads. Why doesn't coach Drink try some underclassmen? They would be hard pressed to do worse and they would be getting some valuable experience for 2023. It seems coach Drink won't make personnel changes even when they are warranted.
    Your assessment is a little off. Left tackle and center are the only spots where the same guy has started all seven games.
    Zeke Powell was the starter at right tackle until he got hurt at Auburn. Going into that game, they had benched Connor Wood at right guard and replaced him with Mitchell Walters. But then Wood had to come off the bench to replace Powell at tackle. Xavier Delgado has played the most snaps at left guard, but he missed a game and a half with an injury, too. And in the last few games they've worked Armand Membou into the rotation at right tackle and an extra blocker for unbalanced formations. 
    Why not more underclassmen? They're not going to bench Foster at left tackle. He's still their best linemen and one of the better tackles in the SEC. I'd say it's too early to give up on Tollison and Walters. They've got to ride out some growing pains. Delgado isn't an All-SEC guard but he's not a huge weakness from what I've seen. At this point if they believed an underclassmen gave them a better chance to win they probably would have made a change - like they did at right guard.
    That leaves Wood as the one veteran you can pull - and they've started doing that by giving Membou more snaps at tackle. We'll see if more changes are in store these final five games.
    Lots of teams with thinner talent on the offensive line play better than Mizzou's. It seems the issue is either effort or mechanics or both. Either way it points to coaching. What do you think?
    I'm not an O-line expert to really diagnose the  issues, but your larger point is correct. LSU has true freshmen starting at left and right tackle. Ole Miss has redshirt freshmen starting at left and right tackle. And we're not talking about blue-chip five-star prospects either. 
    The O-line gets a lot of blame. I understand that. But what interested me in the Vandy game was Cody Schrader had a good game running behind the same line that Nate Peat couldn't get through at all. I can't imagine the line changed anything from one guy to the next. 
    Overall, though, the metrics say this line has struggled. Here are Mizzou's season-long Pro Football Focus rankings for run-blocking and pass-blocking:
    Run blocking: 84th out of 131 FBS teams, 46th out of 65 Power Five teams; 14th out of 14 SEC teams
    Pass blocking: 75th FBS, 45 Power Five, 10th SEC
    So, the QB play and team wasn't doing good enough to allow them to put Horn in for mop-up duty, but the QB play and the team wasn't doing good enough to even maybe win the game, and Drink STILL didn't put Horn in to maybe win the game. Seemed like Horn should have gone in in either case.
    Drinkwitz didn't put the second-half struggles on the QB play. They only attempted six passes. He called three more passes but Cook was sacked. When it was a one- or two-score game, he clearly didn't think Horn was the best option behind that O-line. He wants him in the game with a bigger safety net - a safer lead - that never materialized. He also doesn't want his young QB to make his college debut asked to protect a slim lead against the worst team in the league. Imagine the uproar if Horn throws a pick-six that costs Mizzou the game. So, I understand the reluctance not to play him in the second half. That's why you play him a series or two in the first half when the pressure's not as great.
    The seeming inability for many Mizzou fans to understand that Sam Horn as a true freshman is so very unlikely to come in and be this Amaszing Savior right off the bat--especially behind a very bad OL--is infuriating. That being said, I now officially put the blame on Coach Drink for apparently having so little faith in Tyler Macon that he wouldn't dare to put him out there over a struggling Brady Cook. That's on Coach for his apparent inability to develope his own QB recruit.
    Macon just isn't in the picture. Period.
    I was impressed with the safety from Clemson, Charleston. That guy is a player. How much eligibility does he have left.
  • He can return for next year if he wants. Very solid addition to the secondary. They could really use him back next year because as well as the defense has played, it's going to lose a number of impact players, either because they're out of eligibility or they may explore the NFL draft.
    Dave - It's year 3 for ED but he has not groomed a quarterback up to this point - with a number of questions going into year 4. I would have thought this would have been his priority. Thank You
    Me too. You can't go this long without better play at that position and a solid plan going forward. He's landed a four-star commitment in 2021, 2022 and 2023 but it's impossible to say it's going to be a position of strength next season with so much uncertainty.
    A couple of weeks ago you gave out midseason grades to Mizzou players. Maybe I miised it but I didn’t see you give a grade to Coach Drinkwitz. He has a lot of enthusiasm and last year he tried to rally fans behind his team to fill his stadium to capacity like LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Texas A&M do each week. Fans came to the UGA game and unfortunately saw the Tigers lead for 55 minutes, but not at 60. It’s hard for fans to get excited when as you pointed out neighboring coaches Bielema, Heupel, Pittman and Leipold have their teams headed in a positive direction. The Illini are already bowl eligible. Kansas has to be the surprise of the season to me. They’ve been so bad the last 10 years, I have a hard time understanding how they are competing so well against Big 12 powerhouses while Mizzou struggles against the number 14 team in the SEC so that they can be the number 13 team. HCED’s under .500 career record at Mizzou means I couldn’t give him a C. I A top 20 recruiting class and getting 5 star recruit Luther Burden is just PR hype to me. I hope his last 3 years aren’t like the first 3 . d+ is the best grade I could give him. What say you?
    I'm not a big fan of handing out grades from my perspective, but I did it with the position groups to try something new. Ultimately, the W-L record IS THE GRADE for the head coach. You are what your record says you are, right, Coach Parcells? 
    I'm not sure how you accurately give out one letter grade for a really complicated position like head football coach. You measure him on recruiting, staff hiring, player development, player evaluation, play-designing, play-calling, game management, roster management. Clearly he's done better in some areas than others, but for me it's tricky to hand out one grade that reflects all those duties. 
    Would you say the following statement is true? You have a better chance at having a solid-good offense with overall so-so skilled players but a great Offensive Line than you do having one with overall highly-skilled players but a very bad Offensive Line?
    I'm not sure about that. You can scheme around not having elite talent on the O-line and still have a great offense if you have elite skill players. Look back at the 2007-08 Mizzou offenses. Colin Brown and then Tim Barnes were the only O-linemen who lasted in the NFL. But they schemed around not having NFL players at the other positions - and had the luxury of an NFL quarterback and NFL receivers. 
    I think I'd rather have the elite playmakers. 
    Hi Dave - do you have any idea why the tight end is not utilized more as an option in HCED’s offense? Do they have to stay in to block because of the weak OL or are they not skilled offensively?
    They just don't have great players there this year - or guys who are ready to be impact players at this level. Stephens is the best option and we've seen him have a costly fumble. They could use more reliable playmaker there for sure.
    Can't understand the football situation. Two or three years ago we were ahead of Florida, Miss State, Arkansas, South Carolina and even bordering states of Kansas and Ilinois, now we are lucky to beat Vandy. I believe Drink is a heck of a recruiter, but his on field results are disappointing. Don't we have the $ to compete for services rendered? Where do we go from here?
    It's not just about money. It's how you spend it. The facilities are in great shape right now. It's going to take more money for NIL purposes. It's going to take more money to keep the right coaches in place (ahem, Blake Baker).
    It was perhaps Lock's junior year, I believe, when Mizzou's stout defense was ranked top 5 or 6 nationally across the board, and the offense could barely score 14 points a game. You talked back then about what that might do to cohesion in the locker room. This year's team is starting to remind me of that one. Also, you can say this every week, but for me, this week's game is the most important of the season; another winnable game that brings MU to 4-4 (they REALLY would be 5-3, save for that stunning Auburn giveaway), with four games left, three of them at home and all competitive, save for Tennessee. What say you, oh observer of all things Tigers?
    That was Locks' freshman year, 2015. The defense was pretty bad in 2016 and only marginally better in 2017.
    It's only human nature if the defense starts getting tired of having to carry this team every week. The defense has zero margin for error. It played an amazing game short of one busted play in the fourth quarter - and still had to make a fourth-and-short stop to salvage the win. At some point that weighs on you as a player and a unit. I can't tell you what's happening in the locker room but at least publicly those guys on defense are saying all the right things. In hindsight it's a good thing they have so many captains because the right kind of leaders are in position to maintain a good locker room. Guys like McGuire, Bailey, Manuel and Robinson.
    Dave - Clark Lea, who is a very smart defensive coach, loaded up the box on Saturday and made Brady Cook beat him with his arm - which he didn't do. Why would South Carolina not do the same thing? Thank You
    We'll find out in about 48 hours. Cook did have a very solid first half minus the interception, which had nothing to do with Vandy's defense and was just a bad decision.
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