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. One more chat for 2022. Let's get it started.
    Why no box, basketball, baseball. The box tells the story..assists, fouls, yards, put outs, era and more?
    We have much earlier print deadlines and a shortage of staff available, so box scores for night games don't always get in the print edition. That's not really my department, but that's what I'm told.
    Coach Drink really has a challenge to be able to upgrade his quarterback position. If he aggressively goes to the portal he risk losing Cook and may miss on a pick up like last year. Your thoughts on how he is handling this.

    My second question to you is on the pro grading system you publish for the Missouri players after each game they typically are well below the top end. Actually they are generally below starting college players. If you look at Kentucky or Florida would they be similar?
    1. On the QB front, Missouri is not aggressively recruiting a transfer QB at this point. Most of the top QBs in the portal have already committed somewhere. A few are still out there: Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders and Coastal Carolina's Grayson McCall. If I'm a team needing a QB, I'd look into Virginia's Brennan Armstrong. His production really fell off this year, but he threw for 49 TDs in 20 games over 2020-21 - and he's a dual threat. But Mizzou hasn't been connected to him or any other available QB, at least publicly. It's a big spring/offseason for Sam Horn. 
    2. As for the PFF grades, six Missouri players finished with season grades of 80 or better. PFF considers low 80s as NFL Pro Bowl caliber and high 80s elite level. Here are Mizzou's guys in the 80s for the season: Bailey (85.1), Lovett (83.7), Foster (81.5), McGuire (81.2), George (81.2) and Lil' Hopper (80.5). (I'm only counting players who were regulars in the rotation at their positions.)
    Here's how many regular players finished in the 80s or better at each SEC East team:
    Georgia, 9 (6 offense, 3 defense)
    Missouri, 6 (2 offense, 4 defense)
    Florida, 4 (3 offense, 1 defense)
    Kentucky, 2 (1 offense, 1 defense)
    Tennessee, 2 (2 offense, 0 defense)
    Vanderbilt, 1 (1 offense, 0 defense)
    South Carolina, 0
    So, Mizzou fared pretty well in that context. I'd also  be careful in putting too much stock in these rankings. Tennessee had only two players at 80 or better - and it was both of their quarterbacks and not All-American receiver Jalin Hyatt.
    I’m weary of HCED saying he’s taking responsibility and saying it’s up to him to “fix” things. The problem is that the fix never comes. Mizzou’s offense is waaaaay below average and I blame Drink entirely. His hiring hype was that he was an offensive guru. But, nothing in his record supported that conclusion. He lacked experience and is certainly not an innovator in the mold of Lincoln Riley. All year long I’ve complained about Cook not being the answer at QB. You appear willing to accept Drink’s position that he was playing the QB that gave us the best chance to win. I’m not. By not playing Horn he’s got another QB mess on his hands. Cook isn’t up to it but now Horn has close to zero playing time and it’s a lot to expect him to be the guy next year. So, here we go again.
    I also think Drink’s entire O scheme is pablum and I’m livid that he can’t get over his aversion to throwing the ball in the middle of the field so infrequently. He won’t do it because those passes are higher risk. Which tells me he has no business as an SEC head coach.
    DFR is on the spot. If Drink remains and it’s another 6-6 or 7-5 attendance will plummet.
    Please justify not playing Horn and tell me how thin the ice is for Drink.
    Drinkwitz clearly believed Cook gave this team the best chance to win each week. We can disagree with that - but we don't have the evidence from practice that he used to make that decision. I understand the frustration. But Mizzou had offensive problems beyond the QB. The offensive line was a mess - and had zero depth. A below average Wake Forest defense had 28 pressures on the QB last week. That's a blocking problem.
    I know it is just 2 games but for someone like me who lives and dies Mizzou basketball because of Norm Stewart I am going to enjoy this so much. Who knows what happens from here but the Mizzou arena is finally rocking like the old days. I listen to Gates post press conference, also Sean East and Kobe . It isn't about the game but about the core values of the program. It was incredible to listen to. It feels like Storming Normin era when we where respected for how we compete. Bring you lunch pale on go to work, play for the name on the front of the shirt and be unselfish.
    They've got a very good thing going right now. They have a clear identity and have embraced their roles. Calipari summed up Mizzou's identity pretty clearly last night: They try to create easy baskets in transition with pace. They pressure in the backcourt to give you a short shot clock in the halfcourt and then swarm ball-handlers to get steals. Once the game is under control, Mizzou slows down the pace and doesn't give the ball back.
    I’ll admit, I was not overly excited about the additions of Tre Gomillion and Deandre Gholston in the off-season. Credit to coach Gates for identifying glue guys who attack the basket, play hard, defend, grab boards and keep their composure in big moments. They set a good example for younger guys and give the team character. I don’t want to overhype the team this early, but they have a toughness I haven’t really seen since Demare Carroll and JT Tiller. Is that the defining characteristic you’re seeing early on?
    Yes, there's not a coach in the SEC who wouldn't love to have a Tre Gomillion. Gholston is a talented player who can take over stretches of games with his offense.
    One of the things that has impressed me about Gates is it seems like he hired a great staff. I suspect their roles are flexible but do you know each of the three assistants’ general focus points (other than recruiting)? Thanks.
    They split up scouting reports for each game like most staffs. It's a diverse, veteran staff with a strong lead assistant in CY Young. I think it's been a huge asset for this team.
    I realize hoops is the sport de jour, but I have a (semi) Mizzou football related question. How the heck does Devin Leary end up at Kentucky? I realize we don't know what kind of NIL may be involved, here, but removing NIL from the equation and Leary to Lexington makes little sense to me. Any insight?
    I thought Leary to Kentucky made perfect sense. UK had an obvious opening with Will Levis' departure - and just proved it's a good landing spot for a Power Five transfer quarterback. Leary slides right into the starter's role at an established program with two really talented young receivers in Barion Brown and Dane Key. I figured Kentucky would be very attractive to transfer QBs - and that's not even considering what kind of NIL deal he's receiving.
    Hello Dave!! Happy Holidays! Thanks for the chat.

    Great last couple games by the Tigers! It looks like they can seriously make waves in the conference if they just tighten up the 3pt defense (last in SEC) but otherwise they look great!

    The 3-1 record in the last four games exceed my expectations and it and now seems like a 20 win season is actually possible. Even if they split the remaining 18 games, they would end up at 21- 10 entering the SEC tournament. Do you see them hitting 20+ wins now?

    I have, for the last number of years complained at the terrible fan turnout, even during important conference games, but last night's sellout was mostly packed (with many empty behind the bench on the alumni side though----for some reason) but was electric and was nice to see!!
    A 20-win season is very doable. Mizzou still plays five games against four really good teams: Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas (twice). The bottom of the SEC is pretty sketchy. South Carolina is horrendous. Vandy, Ole Miss and A&M are struggling. Georgia, Florida and LSU are going through some growing pains. SEC road games are going to be difficult to win. Just ask Kentucky and Arkansas - both lost on the road last night. But there are a lot of wins on the table for Mizzou still. Remember, they also get Iowa State at home in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
    What kind of chatter is running around among the beat writers (and other sports reporters/columnists at the STLPD) about: A) Whether HDED will do more than bring in another QB coach - as in, bring in someone who will have some influence on how the offense will play, next year and call plays, and B) some of the hot names out there as possibilities. Money shouldn't be a problem for Drink in luring who he wants.
    I'd say all options are on the table. Drinkwitz didn't sound like he enjoyed calling plays too much this year. He was happy to hand over those duties to Bush Hamdan for the final quarter of the regular season. He has to decide if he wants a complete outsider to revamp the offense or hire someone who will run a version of the Drinkwitz offense. It's his call. There should be right around $1 million to spend on a coordinator/QB coach salary. That's enough to get you someone decent but it's not enough for an upper-tier college coordinator in today's market - especially if you decide to give raises to returning assistants. I wouldn't say there are "hot names" who fall into that salary range.
    To get MBB on the trajectory Coach Gates appears to have it, this quickly, it seems to me takes a combination of a coach who has a definite vision and communicates it clearly and authoritatively and a group of players who have the personalities to buy in and bring the others along with them. The experience of this group is key to that, I'd argue, in that when players get to their senior and fifth years, often come to grips with the fact that they won't make big bucks in the NBA, they become much more atuned to doing the kind of things Coach Gates is asking - really, demanding (in a good way) - of them. I'm not sure HCDG could pull this off with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores, especially if they were the one-and-done types that places like Kentucky and (sadly) Duke have turned to, over the last decade.
    Not sure why it's sad to recruit elite talent. It's won a lot of games at elite programs. 
    But your point about this roster is spot-on. It's a very old team. At least three players are 23 or 24. Several more are 22. It's probably one of the oldest teams in recent Mizzou history. Those old dudes play with an edge. They don't seem to get rattled. They trust their role and their coaches. 
    But don't expect this to be the roster make-up every year. Mizzou will have at least three freshmen next season to replace the three graduate seniors: Hodge, Gholston, Gomillion.
    Dave, you are the best. You are one of the main reasons I subscribe to the Post. If and when Isaiah Mosely plays, which players would see a reduction in playing time? I traveled from St. Louis last night for the game. It was a great time. Mizzou does a great job of creating a great game time experience.
    Thanks for the note and the subscription. It's much appreciated.
    In the games Mosley saw 20-plus minutes, Hodge was playing fewer minutes than he is now. That's not a positive trade-off for this team. Hodge is a first-team All-SEC selection if you gave me a ballot today. He's a much more complete player on both ends of the floor and plays at Gates' preferred speed. I'm not sure Mosley would really help the team that just beat Illinois and Kentucky by 36 points. He doesn't always play with the same intensity and focus that you see from these veterans the last two games.
    Dave, thanks for the chat. How great was that full house last night? Obviously, expectations have changed for this BB team--from a lower tier SEC team to an NCAA team. What do you think the ceiling is for Gates' Tigers?
    I'd say the ceiling is 23 regular-season wins. They're probably going to slip up on the road against teams like Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn and maybe LSU and Florida. Alabama is really good. But this team can certainly push for a top-four seed in the SEC tournament if it keeps playing at this level and a mid-bracket seed in the NCAA Tournament. Still a lot of ball left, but that could be the trajectory if these last two games are who this team really is.
    Good to see sellout. Wins definitely help attendance, but I also feel this team plays an enjoyable style to watch.
    No doubt. They play fast and aggressive. They make winning plays on both ends of the floor that win over the crowd. They're charismatic. They seem to enjoy playing with each other.
    Small point but an important one: There's so much energy on their bench and I believe a lot of that is due to the walk-ons, Sternberg and Francois. It's their job to keep the bench engaged and energized. That helps the team on the floor and the crowd, too. It's all calculated and by design. Sternberg goes up and down the  bench every couple minutes and touches every player and coach. That's not by accident. Those two guys have specific roles/jobs on the bench. It was clearly lacking the last couple years when MU didn't have walk-ons.
    Dave - thanks for the chats. I'd like to see Mizzou Football go 9-3 or better 8 out of 10 years, send 5 -6 guys to the NFL each year and twice a decade be ranked in the top ten. I don't think a national championship is really a rational expectation given the school and the competition - but what I've laid out would put fans in the stands and create a lot of excitement, year in and year out. Can Drink get there?
    I mean this in the most polite way, but if you want to see a team win nine games 80% of the time, you should find a new team. I just don't believe that's possible at Missouri in the current conference and national landscape. You're talking about a program that's under .500 since their Hall of Fame coach retired - a Hall of Fame coach who delivered five of the seven 9-win seasons in the history of a program that's been playing football for more than 130 years. And the bulk of that history didn't come in the SEC.
    Realistic goal for Mizzou should be to play in a bowl every year, push for eight or nine wins every few years ... when the forces align, win 10 or 11 every seven or eight years ... maybe once a decade push for a spot in the 12-team playoff field. 
    Drink---- winning season in 2023 to keep his job?

    With no offensive coordinator and the offense anemic with Cook.....I don't see any improvement happening in 2023.

    Cook runs a play. 3 guys wide open.....but he throws into double coverage. Why does he not check down from his initial receiver and actually throw to an open guy? He has done this constantly for two years now. Why? Is he just not good enough?
    I'm not sure what games you're watching to say he always throws in double coverage. That's just not true. Cook didn't throw an interception in his last 206 attempts. He rarely tries to force a pass to someone who's clearly covered. For the season, only 44 of his 382 pass attempts were contested targets, meaning there was a defender in place to contest the catch.
    If anything, you can make a case he's too conservative and throws to his check-down too often. 
    To your first question, though, does Drinkwitz return in 2024 if Mizzou doesn't have a winning season in 2023? I don't think 6-6 cuts it. They didn't give him a 50% raise to make the Birmingham Bowl in year four.
    Dennis Gates, even given the small sample size, is starting to make a "true believer" out of me. I realize this is probably impossible for you to know or even guess at but is Mizzou a "destination" job for Gates or does he have his sights set on somewhere else (UC Berkeley) and Mizzou is a just a "stepping stone" job for him?

    Also, it looks like those Horizon League guys can actually play.

    Well done, Desiree Reed Francois and Coach Gates.

    Happy New Year to all and, Dave, thanks for a year of interesting chats.
    Cal-Berkeley is a terrible job. Cuonzo left there to coach at Mizzou because the support/resources were so bad. I don't sense Gates has any strong emotional ties to his alma mater. 
    Now, if Leonard Hamilton eventually retires, does he call on one of his apprentices to succeed him at Florida State? Gates wouldn't  be the only option, but he'd be a possibility there. 
    I don't know of any other dream job for him. He's a Chicago native, but it's not like Northwestern or DePaul move the needle. This is a very good job and he can make it a better one the more he wins.
    Happy Holidays Dave,

    Kudos to Coach Gates for bringing excitement back to CoMo. Do you think Coach Gates will get votes for national coach of the year if they are able to end the season as a top 20 squad?
    Yes, but let's get to January first. 
    Pump. Those. Brakes.
    Let's not forget, two years ago Mizzou was a top 10 team and started the year 13-3 with huge wins over Oregon, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama - and fans couldn't run Cuonzo out of town fast enough less than 12 months later. 
    Two parter, here. First, the bowl game showed that beyond the obvious situation at QB, the position group most holding back success for football is the offensive line. It needs major upgrades - and if Javon Foster opts for the NFL (can't blame him, if he does), this could be a massive problem, next year. So, my questions are, who are the younger players who might be able to step up - I'm not impressed, so far, by the play of Tollison, Walters and Heismeyer (we need more than Membou and Ndoma-Ogar to develop). Second part, I don't have a lot of time to look at the portal stuff but took a quick glance and it seems that pretty much all the talent in there currently, is spoken for. Unless some really good players pop in after the bowls and spring ball, I'm not sure wehre we'll rebuild the Oline from.
    Membou looks like a multi-year starter. And it doesn't have to be at right tackle. If he's your best guard, find a place for him inside. 
    Ndoma-Ogar was playing really well before he got hurt. He's got to be an option at guard.
    Buffalo center Bence Polgar is still on the team and should compete for a job in 2023, either guard or center.
    You have to look at the true freshmen this spring: Valen Erickson, Tristan Wilson and Curtis Peagler. Maybe they're not ready physically, but better teams in the SEC are playing fresmen on the O-line. It's possible.
    Are the Tigers playing with house money so to speak when they play at Arkansas on Wednesday? Obviously, you'd love to keep things rolling, but I don't think a loss on the road against a top ten team diminishes much of the momentum they've picked up since the ku game. Is this a sentiment that Gates would embrace (i.e., let's play fast and let the three's fly with confidence, we've got nothing to lose) or is more of the type to try to push harder and for more intensity than ever before? I'm not saying it is a binary, one-or-the-other situation, but I'm just trying to get your sense of Gates' style.
    He'll coach to win the game regardless if it's house money or not. Arkansas just lost to LSU. The Hogs don't have Trevon Brazile (out for the year) or star freshman Nick Smith (out indefinitely), so they're hardly at full strength. I don't see this Missouri team straying from its identity. Play fast, shoot early 3s, mix up defenses, pressure to generate steals.
    MU football fans have to wonder what they have in Eli Drinkwitz?
    Is he a comedian? Maybe he's the next big Sit-Com star if this coaching stuff doesn't work out?
    An offensive genius? Hardly, he hasn't figured out the QB position in three years and seems to lack a true identity.
    An elite recruiter, maybe, but winning 17 games in three years will make it much more difficult moving forward.
    A CEO type head coach? Not as long has he has a heavy hand in the offensive play calling, which by and large he hasn't had a great deal of success or been imaginative.
    After three years what is Coach Drink?
    Your thought?
    All fair questions. I think he's a good recruiter. He's good at public relations, in terms of playing to his own crowd. Sometimes his jabs backfire, but he's got a lot of personality and isn't afraid to tick people off, which I admire but I can understand if others don't always like. It's fair to question his ability to develop an offense from top to bottom. His three most productive players in three seasons were two running backs he inherited (Rountree, Badie) and a receiver he recruited and developed then lost to the portal (Lovett). They haven't done enough to develop the O-line. They haven't developed tight ends. Their are obvious concerns about the QB position moving forward. In three seasons, his QBs have thrown for 42 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Here's what the passing game has produced over three seasons and where each percentage/rating would rank among teams this season:
    Completion percentage, 65.7: No. 20
    Yards per attempt, 6.98: No. 78
    Passer rating: 131.5, No. No. 75
    That's out of 131 FBS teams. So ... this pretty much sums up the passing game over the last three years: pretty accurate but not very efficient.
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