Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Bring your Tigers football and basketball questions, and talk to Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Thursday.

    Greetings, chatters. Thanks for stopping by today. I'll  be here for the next two hours. Ready, aim, fire ....
    Any news on action regarding the Bama lineman who was throwing punches on the Mizzou player?
    Saban said he's talked to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey about the incident and would handle punishment internally. Saban said it would impact Davis' playing time. The league doesn't usually disclose any specifics in these matters.
    What exactly was the injury to Santos and how long will he be out?
    It's a foot injury. I believe Martin told some reporters yesterday at SEC media days that it's a broken bone on top of his foot. (Full disclosure, I'm not in Birmingham this week for SEC media days.) Martin doesn't seem all that concerned. Maybe it's something that keeps him sidelined for the start of the season, but Martin hasn't expressed any alarm.
    Hello Dave! 9th for Mizzou basketball? Seems really low. Could this team fly under the radar and maybe end up top 4 or 5?
  • My guess is the voting was pretty bunched up from around fifth to 10th. These are really evenly matched teams. The teams slotted ahead of Missouri either return more known quantities or recruited better talent than the class Martin brought in this year. I didn't vote in the media poll, but I probably would have had Missouri around seventh. Let's not lose sight of the fact that the SEC is absolutely loaded. Eight teams made the NCAAs last year and nine or 10 could make it this year. I submitted my AP ballot this week and I had three SEC teams in the top 10 and five in the top 25. Here's how I would have picked the SEC:
    1. Tennessee
    2. Kentucky
    3. Auburn
    4. Mississippi State
    5. LSU
    6. Florida
    7. Missouri
    8. Vanderbilt
    9. Alabama
    10. Arkansas
    11. South Carolina
    12. Texas A&M
    13. Ole Miss
    14. Georgia
    You've got some really good coaches down there at the bottom. Beating South Carolina, A&M, Ole Miss or Georgia won't be easy for anyone this year. Should be a really entertaining year for SEC hoops.
  • Rounding the halfway point, what is this team's identity?
  • Good question. I think this Missouri team is one that can run the ball and stop the run. It's a physical team. The finesse part is still under construction. The pass rush, pass defense and pass offense are far from polished and short on elite talent. Offensively, this passing game can correct itself if three things happen:
    1. Emanuel Hall returns and provides an impact deep threat.
    2. Lock improves on getting rid of the ball & decision-making.
    3. Another receiver emerges as a reliable weapon. Knox is showing signs he'll be that guy. 
    As for the pass rush, I'm not sure if there's a midseason solution. Trajan Jeffcoat has started playing more. Maybe he can develop into a threat on the edge. Otherwise, this defense is essentially what we've seen: deep and talented up the middle at D-tackle and inside linebacker but vulnerable on the outside at D-end and in the secondary. 
  • I asked you at the beginning of season about Brendan Scales switching to defensive end. With Blanton graduating and Albert O likely leaving there's still spots opening. But it looks like the Tigers were very high on Swinson before he got hurt and looking at who is traveling with the team, Parker and Christopherson have both passed him. Given the lack of production at defensive end, the Tigers desperately needs pass rushers, do you still feel the same way? Should Scales ask the staff to switch to the other position he played so well in high school?
  • I'm not sure this is even a consideration by the staff. I don't see Scales having much of a future at tight end unless injuries pile up. For one, at this point I don't think Okwuegbunam has done enough to merit consideration for entering the draft. He's a long way from being ready for the next level. The staff is very high on Swinson. I wouldn't be surprised if he takes part in bowl practices in December. Does the staff believe Parker can be an all-around tight end and not just a designated blocker? Not so sure. But if Scales wants to see the field in some capacity it might be in his best interest to consider a move. But I don't know if that's at all possible.
  • Dave, the injuries to our WR’s has been mentioned as one reason for Lock’s & the team’s problems. Since it’s tough for a Frosh to step in & compete in the SEC where is our seasoned depth behind Hall & Brown? What happened to Ofodile? He was coveted coming out of HS & chose big time OR. He should have a decent relationship with his position coach.
    On the receiver subject; why does it seem our receivers have a problem catching the ball? Couldn’t they catch in HS & we thought we could teach them? I mean it’s kind of important for that position.
    How close is Lock to the Mizzou Pick-6 record?
    Why had Guess not committed somewhere before the school year started?
  • I'll attempt these in order.
    1. Prior to the 2018 class, Mizzou's had a rough time recruiting receivers. They had a couple decommitments there. A couple non-qualifiers. A couple players who transferred or were dismissed. Building the depth there has been a huge challenge. For whatever reason, Ofodile just hasn't done enough to earn snaps. He did not have a good camp, and that put him behind the two freshmen, Knox and Scott. He was a prolific high school receiver because he used his size mismatch to catch every jump ball thrown his way. It's not so easy at this level, especially in an offense that requires you to learn a variety of routes. 
    2. Johnson has struggled catching the ball this year. Not sure you can say that for the others. It hasn't  been a consistent problem. Hall had issues late last year. J'Mon Moore's drop history is well documented. That said, I don't think this is exclusively a Missouri problem. Great receivers don't drop passes. Missouri hasn't had a lot of great receivers recently. 
    3. Schools and the NCAA don't track pick-6s to my knowledge. Lock has one this year. Had one against Florida in 2015. I'm sure I'm forgetting the rest but my mind is blank on any others. 
    4. Guess wasn't qualified academically after his senior year of high school. He needed extra course work to get approved by the NCAA eligibility center. By then, most schools had lost interest or wanted him to spend a year at a prep school.
  • Is there really any chance the other two Smiths can become eligible this year? Seems like some fans are getting their hopes up for something that's an incredible long shot.
  • The NCAA is being more lenient with transfer waivers, but I wouldn't hold my breath on these. There's some thought within the program that they could get cleared to play this year, but there's really no telling. Dru Smith might have a better case because his coach was fired at Evansville. I'm not really sure how you make a case for Mark Smith skipping the sit-out year, unless Illinois signs off. Obviously having either one of them would help this team's backcourt this year, but it's not like Mizzou is counting on having either Smith this year.
  • Do you think Mizzou wins this weekend? What must happen? The second half of the season appears much harder than 2017. Any chance they run it?
  • Can they win? Yes. I expect Mizzou to win. But this is an incredibly dangerous game. Memphis' offense is potent. Maybe the best offense the Tigers play this year other than Alabama. Missouri has to control the line of scrimmage, get its running game going and keep Memphis' offense on the sideline. No turnovers. You can't give Memphis extra possessions or favorable field position. 
    Can Missouri run the table? Unlikely. This team hasn't beaten ranked opponent since the 2014 bowl game. To finish the regular season 6-0, the Tigers will have to beat two top 15 teams - one of them on the road. If Missouri can win Saturday and split the Kentucky and Florida games, they'll still be in good position to finish strong. Though winning in Knoxville seems like a stiffer challenge now that Tennessee just managed a road win at Auburn. 
  • is there something physically wrong with Lock? He's been far outplayed twice now by guys making their first start. I just can't grasp how he has been playing so badly. Missing his best receivers? Their replacements have been around quite some time.
  • Who was the other QB making his first start? Purdue's QB has started and played a lot of games. South Carolina's QB was indeed making his first start. 
    That said, I don't think there's anything physically wrong with Lock. He's still adjusting to this offense. I wrote about this transition in Wednesday's paper. This system is different in some major ways - and all ways Lock has embraced and, in theory, should make this offense more competitive against better defenses. He doesn't have the luxury of seven-man protections like he did often last year. He's got to make quicker decisions sometimes, and he's held onto the ball too long in some cases. To Lock's credit, he's quick to diagnose the problems. He understands what's wrong, but he has to retrain his brain to make the transition. That's easier said than done when you've got Alabama's 300-pound D-tackle racing into the pocket. And he's playing with two mostly untested freshman receivers. That's not an excuse, but it's reality. Knox and Scott could end up having great careers at Missouri, but this is the first time they've played against college DBs. Getting open and making contested catches is a lot harder in college. 
  • Hi Dave,

    I think there is no doubt that Lock has a ton of talent. The thing that bothers me most about him is decision making and composure especially against decent or better teams. You just can't throw that INT for a TD against SC or take that safety against Bama, etc. He is a 4th year starter and I just expected more from him.
  • Agreed. Lock would agree with you, too. He's got to play better on the big stage in the crucial moments for him to shed that reputation. That's the burden of playing quarterback. Nobody puts those same standard on running backs or tight ends or offensive guards, but that's the expectation put on quarterbacks.
  • Lots of irrational fans calling for Barry Odom's head....even though sagarin has Mizzou ranked at #41 and having played the 4th toughest schedule thus far...and actually shows Mizzou favored in 5 out of their last 6 games. They toughest games left on the schedule appear to be the next three (vs Memphis, vs Kentucky, @Florida). Your thoughts on Barry Odom after 2 1/2 seasons?
  • This program still doesn't have a signature win on his watch and hasn't gotten over the hump against the best competition. I think the concerns about the defense - Odom's specialty - are legitimate. That side of the ball should be better. In terms of personnel, Odom has had to rely on far too many underclassmen because of roster turnover and an extreme shortage of SEC-caliber upperclassmen the last couple years. That's not on Odom. Programs like Missouri can thrive when you develop your players over time, because rarely are you going to land impact newcomers who can start and win games for you in this conference. 
    As far as the first half of the season, in August I picked the Tigers to be 3-3 at this point with a chance to finish 8-4. If a play or two unfolds differently in a wacky game at South Carolina, this team is 4-2 and instead of lamenting a third straight loss at Alabama, we're probably pointing out how promising that game was: the red zone defense, the running game, the Lock-to-Knox TD, the sack/strip, holding Bama to a season-low 39 points, etc. Instead, the South Carolina loss changes the perception of the Bama game, as just another loss in a spiraling season. The second half schedule is tougher than last year, no doubt. I also think this team is better - with a healthy Hall - than last year. If Odom can press the right buttons again this year, this team can have another strong finish.
  • Is Nate Brown playing on Saturday? And what is going on with Johnathon Johnson? I think he missed every pass thrown his way last week. Thank goodness Jalen Knox can catch the ball.
  • Brown did some running Saturday. Odom sounded like he's close to returning but by no means is he guaranteed to return this week. Johnson caught one of six passes thrown to him at Alabama. He had at least one drop of a catchable ball. For the season, I've got Johnson with 22 catches on 38 targets. He's catching about 58 percent of the balls thrown to him. Last year his catch rate was 65 percent. He's obviously not having the kind of season Missouri needs out of him. Maybe he'll step up against his hometown team this weekend.
  • Dave, what health insurance does the University provide players who may be severely injured? Say you need a year to rehab an ACL do they cover it? You lose your scholarship?

    From what I was reading you can end up paying thousands of dollars and lose your scholarships while playing for the team. Multi-billion contrscts going to others.
  • I've never heard any cases at Missouri of anyone having to spend that kind of money on an injury - or losing their scholarship just because they're out with an injury. I don't know the specifics behind the coverage, but health insurance for athletes is a major expense for the athletic department. And that expense has gone up dramatically in the last two years. Last year MU spent $1.3 million on medical/insurance expenses for athletes, and that was a 31 percent increase from two years earlier.
  • Over under on attendance this week 40,000
  • I'd expect something between 50,000 and 55,000. It's homecoming. People come back for this game regardless how Mizzou is playing.
  • What is the biggest reason we have lost the past three games. Defense or offense. Seems like both haven’t been playing their best
  • There isn't just one reason to explain all three games. The pass defense didn't come up with timely stops against Georgia or South Carolina. Turnovers were a common problem in all three games.
  • If we end up only winning six games should BO be retained for next year ?

    Seems like our future recruits are similar as past years in football. Was hoping we could
    Get some more impact recruits.
  • Incoming recruits won't impact whether or not Odom keeps his job. The bulk of this team in terms of impact players were Pinkel recruits. Odom's classes are still developing, either as backups or starters pressed into duty. What to do with a 6-6 finish? Obviously that's a step back from last season, even though the schedule is more challenging this year. Then again, Missouri has never fired a coach for making a bowl game, much less after consecutive bowl seasons. It's a harder sell to candidates if they know they'll be fired for making a bowl game. Either way, this a lot of speculation at the halfway point of a season that could still end every positively for this program. Again, I picked Mizzou to be 3-3 at this stage ... and finish 8-4.
  • Who leads Mizzou In assists in men’s b-ball
  • Jordan Geist, the point guard. Jontay is a good passer and effective playmaker for a 6-11 forward, but he's going to take more shots this year and might not be quite the facilitator he was last year.
  • Dave a lot of big money has been poured into that stadium project and the program as a whole. I don't think Sterk is a man who has mediocrity in mind for the football program's future. Let's say the Tigers go 6-6 or worse (which is possible with the remaining schedule) do you think a change will be made? I think the days where going to a minor bowl or having an average season may no longer be expectable.
  • Let's clear up one thing: $100 million is a lot of money, but donors only covered about half that - and $10 million came from one donor. The university is paying for the other half, until athletics pays it back with revenue from the new luxury suites. 
    Keeping Odom after a 6-6 regular season isn't necessarily settling for mediocrity - because there's another big part of the equation: Who do you hire instead? Power 5 programs rarely hire other currently employed Power 5 head coaches. If Missouri is shopping for a head coach in a few months - again, I'm just answering your questions - the likely candidate pool is non-Power 5 head coaches and Power 5 coordinators. First off, if the knock on Odom is he didn't have the head-coaching chops for this job, then it's doubtful Mizzou wants a career assistant who's never sat in the big chair. Second, being a winning head coach at Arkansas State or North Texas or Troy doesn't mean you can cut it in the SEC and take Mizzou to greater heights than six or seven wins. It's a risk just the same. 
  • Who gives the best interviews from this year’s men’s basketball and football teams. Players and coaches are eligible
  • Football: Kevin Pendleton, Emanuel Hall, Drew Lock, Derek Dooley
    Basketball: Kevin Puryear, Jontay Porter, Jeremiah Tilmon 
  • Could E. Hall Redshirt?
  • That's not something he's discussed with Odom. Odom made that clear on Monday it's not in the works. Technically, yes, he could sit out this year and come  back for 2019, but Hall submitted his name to the NFL for a draft evaluation after last season. He wants to play at the next level, and I would think he might take his chances with the 2019 draft instead of going through another (unpaid) season in college. Plus, he doesn't know who's going to be throwing him passes next year if he returns to college.
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