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, folks. Lots to discuss today. Football. Basketball. It's all happening at once. I'll be at the arena to cover tonight's Mizzou exhibition game. (Not on TV). BenFred and I just recorded a new podcast episode, but I'm here for the next couple hours.
    Yeah, a funny thing happened while all us fans were waiting for the highly anticipated Mizzou OFFENSE to kick-in ... when no-one was watching, Mizzou developed a 'shut down' DEFENSE. It's more than a challenge to play against it!!! To quote your update earlier in the week ... "Through eight games, the Tigers rank 3rd in the SEC in total defense and No 2 in the SEC in total DEFENSE in conference play. Wow. Gotta go 'cuz my crow is ready to be taken of the grill.
    The defense is legitimate. No weaknesses. Strong at all three levels.
    Until this season I have been an infrequent visitor to the chat. That changed this year because of my belief that Brady Cook does not have the talent to prosper in the SEC. HCED apparently shared this belief as evidenced by his pursuit of QBs in the portal. But, no matter how much Brady and the offense struggled, Drink refused to give Sam Horn any playing time. I believe that was and is a mistake.
    Nevertheless, I feel obliged to praise Brady’s performance against SC. Not spectacular, but solid. The same can be said of the improved play of the O line. I’ve got my fingers crossed that both can equal their performance against Kentucky. This game is a huge opportunity for the Tigers. They’ve cracked open the door to a respectable season. Here’s hoping they walk through it.
    Thanks for joining. I thought Cook showed some growth in the last game. He was tough as always. Smart with the ball more than ever. Managed the game pretty well. At this point in the season, the team needs wins and probably can't afford to hand out snaps to players just to gain experience for next season. Maybe against New Mexico State or if you get way ahead or way behind in one of the remaining SEC games.
    Good morning Dave,
    On paper, it appears that the Kansas BB program and Coach Self are going to "skate" above the infractions that took place years ago!
    In your opinion, what gives? How can this happen?
    Help us digest the NCAA Infractions Committe thought process.
    ?
    Keep in mind, KU's penalties were all self-imposed - done with the hope that the NCAA lefts them off easy from here. That's no guarantee. The NCAA could still add some penalties. But I wouldn't hold my breath, especially based on the sanctions Louisville received this morning. The NCAA has clearly decided that it's not going to bring down the hammer for cheating infractions.
    During the past month or so there has been a lot of chat on this site against HCED. After last week's performance I think a lot of that bashing should subside. While we were ultra conservative in the red zone, I still believe Coach Drink did an excellent job calling that game. He found a successful formula and stuck with it, allowing our team to move the ball with minimal risk of turnovers. Happy for coach to at least silence those dogging him for one week.
    Yes, but ... we all know how this works. If the offense stinks Saturday and Mizzou loses to Kentucky, the same complaints will resurface. And that's probably fair. The offense showed last week that it's capable of being good enough to beat quality SEC teams when it complements an elite defense.
    Glad to see we are looking to lock in Baker for the long term. Any news on length and how it will keep him here?
    As I wrote last night, he'll make at least $1 million per year under the new deal. It'll be multiyear. I was told the university's ambition was to make him among the nation's top 20-paid defensive coordinators. They wanted to get ahead of the pack of schools that might come after him this offseason.
    The football team's offensive line has had their issues this season. If I am not mistaken, do we not have several highly rated linemen taking a red shirt this year? If so, who are the few notable ones that came in highly recruited that should vie for playing time next season? Also, any incoming recruits expected to battle to playing time.
    Mizzou signed four O-linemen in the 2022 class. Armand Membou was the highest-rated one - and he's played a lot this year. Tristan Wilson, Valen Erickson and Curtis Peagler are the others. All three were three-star prospects. MU also signed a junior college transfer, Ma'Kyi Lee. He has not seen the field this year. Hard to project if any of those guys will see the field next year. Logan Reichert is the highest-rated O-line recruit currently committed. Could he play right away next year? It's rare to see a true freshman play, much less start in the SEC, but it's not unheard of. My hunch is he might crack the two deep and earn practice reps with Mizzou's offense instead of the scout team offense but might not earn a regular game-day role. We'll see.
    I know we will read about it tomorrow with your story, but what has been the main problem for Kentucky this season? I know injuries have played a part, but they seem to be having offensive line woes. Tennessee is good, but I didn't think their defensive line was that good to play havoc with Kentucky the way they did.
    Tennessee's defensive line is very solid, especially rushing the QB. But the root of Kentucky's problems all rest along the O-line. They've given up the most sacks of any Power Five team and are on pace to allow the most sacks of any SEC team since the league expanded to 14 teams in 2012. They lost three starters off last year's line, two to the NFL draft, plus their O-line coach. With Will Levis at QB and Chris Rodriguez at tailback and a couple dangerous receivers, this team would be much better with a more competent O-line
    Kentucky is still solid defensively. Maybe not as talented as years past.
    People can say what they want but I think college football needs more Lane Kiffin's and Mike Leach's. I'm not saying I want them as our coach, but personally, I love listening to their interviews. They can make it rough for the media, but they make college football fun. Drink's enthusiasm is also appreciated.
    I like both of those guys from afar. Leach can be difficult to cover on a daily basis. He turns on his wacky charm mostly for the national media. Kiffin is refreshingly honest and incapable of coach speak. He'd be interesting to cover on a daily basis.
    Very near the end of the SC game Drinkwitz was furious at Brady Cook for something. I think it was because he felt Cook didn’t run out enough of the clock? IF that’s true isn’t that the same kind of thinking that lost them the Auburn game? Specifically when Peat tried to get more out of the play near the goal line than the play had to offer and his outstretched arms resulted in a fumble. Again IF my assumption is true I wonder what Drink wanted to Cook to do? Gain a single second, but in the process risk a fumble or injury? I’m not a football expert, it just seemed odd to me how fired up Drink was in relation to Cook’s ‘mistake’ – if indeed it even was a mistake. Enlighten me please.
    I haven't asked Drinkwitz - I didn't know about the blow-up Saturday until after postgame interviews because I was scrambling to finish my story in the final seconds of the game. But I'm pretty certain he was upset that Cook was snapping the ball with close to 10 seconds left on the play clock. I've said for the last couple years: He coaches his QBs hard, especially when it comes to managing the clock and the basic fundamentals of game management. No harm, no foul. Good teaching moment for the QB. Drinkwitz went over the top to praise Cook after the game. 
    The situation was different from Peat at Auburn because Cook had the lead at South Carolina and had to protect the lead. 
    Peat made a massive mistake at Auburn - and it wasn't the time or place to dress him down for that mistake. It was a teaching moment just the same - but Peat was distraught in the moment. At that point he needed to be lifted up, not lectured. 
    Hi Dave, thanks for the chat, as well as all Mizzou articles from you and your staff. The offensive line seemed to perform so much better at SC. Can changing one lineman, along with a tight end, make that much difference in a game, and is it fair to expect that performance to continue? I realize Peat, who was pretty effective until the previous week was benched also. And, who generally makes the final decision on personnel changes - the position coach, OC , or an agreement from both? Why did it take so many weeks to make the changes? Thanks.
    Peat had a really rough game at Vandy. That prompted the benching. He wasn't running north and south and he had a second red zone fumble. You just can't do that on a team with a minuscule margin for error on offense. Beyond the personnel changes, Mizzou also ran the ball between the tackles more often and more effectively. You didn't see the stretch plays to the outside that can take longer to block and require more time to develop. Schrader ran the ball up the gut on quick-hitting plays at the point of attack. That strategy seemed to work much better for this personnel.
    Mizzou needs to sign Drink to a long term extension before another school poaches him, unless he loses to Kentucky in which case he should be fired, unless he beats Tennessee or plays them close, or possibly if Mizzou beats New Mexico State and Arkansas and qualifies for a bowl, in which case the football program is definitely on the way up, or definitely on the way down.
    I don't think any school is in a rush to hire a head coach with a 15-16 record. Maybe a Group of Five team would hire him - but he's not leaving $4 million a year at an SEC program for a less money in a lesser division.
    Good morning Dave and hope all is well you're way. Do you think it's safe to say that Nathaniel Peat is fully entrenched in Coach Drink's doghouse?
    Doghouse implies he did something wrong besides play bad. He's just not playing well. He's committed two costly fumbles in tight games - and he wasn't running well or getting positive yardage against a bad Vandy defense. I would have benched him, too, when you have another back - Cody Schrader - who hits the hole harder and doesn't fumble.
    Just as players learn and develop from their experiences coaches do, or are expected to do, likewise. I suspect most coaches would say they are a more competent version of themselves after several years in the job. So, I think that’s a part - big part?- of what’s happening at Mizzou. Drinkwitz is learning and developing as a HC.
    So maybe year 4 for him (and as a working unit) his staff will be the breakout year just as year 4 should be when the recruited talent (including transfer additions) gel into being consistently competitive. If defections can be minimal among first & second teams, a few transfers are added that contribute like this year’s have, and Cook steadies as QB1 then ‘23 should be when the Tigers get over the .500 hump.
    A lot of IFs, but reasons to expect that scenario. But man in this regard, it would be great to end 2022 with the extra development time playing in a bowl would provide. Any bowl.
  • Maybe all of that unfolds that way. But then again, this season is only two-thirds complete. A lot can still happen that will shape 2023. Cook and the offense showing growth at South Carolina doesn't mean it's going to keep getting better the rest of the year. That would be ideal but no guarantees. 
    On one hand, Mizzou's not paying Drinkwitz $4 million a year to learn on the job with the hope that he figures it out by Year 4 - after he's already pocketed $12 million. But on the other hand, it's only natural that a fairly young coach learns with each season and gets better at the job after a few years. It's fair to expect much  better results in 2023 once his recruits can develop.
    Any chance that Bryan Harsin becomes Coach Drink's new OC anytime soon or by next season at least?
    I'll answer your question with a question: Why?
    What about Auburn's offense the last two years would convince anyone that he'd be an upgrade over Drinkwitz calling the offense? Harsin hasn't been able to develop a good quarterback at Auburn. He clearly couldn't get the most out of Bo Nix - who left Auburn and is now playing like a potential Heisman candidate at Oregon.
    Harsin was a fine coach at Boise State, but I've never thought his offense was anything particularly special. He was the OC at Texas in 2011-12 and those were't exactly the glory years of UT offensive football. 
    Hiring your former boss is also unconventional - potentially awkward. Drinkwitz respects Harsin and feels indebted to him for hiring him at two different schools, but I've never gotten the sense they're especially tight. 
    I haven't seen much of or heard much about Tyrone Hopper II and his play on the field. What kind of season has he been having on the DL?
    He doesn't make many impact plays. He's the fourth defensive end and averages about nine snaps a game. Mizzou's top three ends are really good, so he's not going to steal snaps from them. His biggest contribution was helping land his cousin.
    Have you heard or had any feedback on how the 4 star running back has looked in practice? Know he hasn’t seen the field this year but does he have the potential to be a major contributor in the future?
    Tavorus Jones has appeared in two games, so he can play in two more games without the year counting against his eligibility. He missed a good chunk of camp with an injury and was limited the first month of the season, so the staff didn't get a really thorough evaluation of whether he could help this offense. Drinkwitz has spoken highly of him and wanted to start giving him more touches about a month ago, but he defers to his more proven veterans in tight games - and MU has played in five straight tight games.
    It seems like the NCAA brings the hammer down on the small-time cheaters/less successful programs and lets the big-time cheaters/more successful programs get away with murder. Granted, it's not a lot different than life works in general but it is disappointing. It would be nice if one thing, sports maybe, did not inhabit its own topsy-turvy universe. Thanks, Dave, I appreciate the soapbox.
    There's some truth to that sometimes, but major programs have absorbed pretty harsh penalties over the years, too. USC football, Miami football, Penn State football, etc.
    Heard recently that Mizzou might be considered for a bowl even at 5-7. From what I recall, a bowl win (or 8 total wins) grants HCED an automatic 1 yr extension + $100k raise. Have to think this would be best case scenario for AD DRF...gives him an extra year so she is not obligated to sign an extension like Sterk had to with Odom, just to fire in year 4, but still gets to see how his top 20 recruiting classes play out with a little more maturity.
    There would have to be too few 6-6 teams for any 5-7 teams to receive a bowl invitation. The 5-7 team selection process is based on Academic Progress Rate scores. Mizzou's most recent APR score ranked 26th among the 131 FBS teams, which is reasonably high and would probably have MU in the running for a bowl berth at 5-7 - depending on how many 5-7 teams would be needed, if any.
    As for Drinkwitz's contract, that obonus clause only applied to the 2020 and 2021 seasons.  If during 2020 or 2021 Mizzou won eight games or a bowl game, he would have received another year and his annual salary would have gone up $100,000 for each remaining year. So, even if Mizzou wins eight games this year, he still only has three years left on this deal.
    It looks like a down year for Mizzou' Football recruiting class this year. Any news or noise about ED flipping any of the 4 star recruits from The State of Mississippi? Or the portal will be explored and hit again?
    The rankings are down compared to the past two years, but I'm not sure I'd really call it a down year. The overall class ranking is down a bit but mostly because the rankings emphasize quantity of commitments not just quality. And Mizzou has a smaller class so far with just 13 commitments. Rivals.com ranks the class at No. 52, but if you rank classes by the average rating of the commitments - and take the quantity of commits out of the equation - Mizzou's ranking is much better at No. 27 - better than Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, Mississippi State and a bunch of other Power Five teams in MU's orbit.
    I'm not sure why Mizzou should be targeting Mississippi recruits. It's not one of the more fertile SEC states. There are seven four-star 2023 recruits in Mississippi. Three have committed to Ole Miss, one to Miss St, one to Oregon.
    This staff missed on some of the more high-profile recruits around the state and in the St. Louis area. It's not the end of the world. We've seen a lot of overrated prospects come out of the state the last few years. You don't want to miss on the guys you're certain will develop into impact players, but you can find those caliber of players elsewhere. Either way, you still have to have a strong player development program. 
    Love reading your articles, appreciate the honest coverage of Mizzou Sports. Does Drinkwitz deserve more credit than he gets? There are obvious mistakes (D coordinator hirings, Offensive playcalling at times, No shows in a few games), but with his teams that are obviously flawed in some ways, he gets them to compete at a high level and makes them better throughout the year. He needs a big year next year to show he can take this program past 6-6 and competitive, but this team is a couple things here or there away from being 6-2. Does he deserve more credit than fans give him for the job he's done the last three years?
    He's a game under .500 through two and two-thirds season. I felt like some of the criticism after the K-State game was too strong but for the most part I think he's gotten a fair shake from reasonable people who are paying attention to the ups and downs.
    He's done some good things. He's deserved criticism for others and it's fair to be skeptical if he'll take this program to the next level - winning double-digit games and pushing for SEC East championships. But I also think he's shown enough promise that it's fair to expect better results in the future. 
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