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.




    Happy New Year, Mizzou chatters. Football is officially in the offseason mode. Men's basketball cranks up SEC play next Tuesday against Tennessee. I'll be here for the next couple hours to take all your questions. Let's get this started.
    Is 8-4 a reasonable record for next year's football team? Or is the bar set higher with addition of Kelly Bryant?
    I think the over/under should be set at 8.5. If you're optimistic you take the over. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, starting with Bryant's arrival. Larry Rountree and Mizzou's running game could be the best in the SEC. The O-line should be solid. There are some exciting young playmakers at receiver. Defensively, this team will miss Beckner and Hall, but there's some solid pieces coming back, starting with Garrett and the two corners. Acy had a rough game Monday, but he had a strong year. As did Christian Holmes, who didn't become a starter until the middle of October. Maybe the biggest reason for optimism is the schedule. You trade a game at Alabama for a home game against Ole Miss. Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee all have to come to Columbia. West Virginia will have a new head coach and loses its quarterback. 
    All that being said, Monday's loss exposed some areas that need to be addressed: Special teams, wide receiver depth, pass rush. Fans and some media freak out over bowl results and tend to think they're going to shape the next season, but I put less stock in these stand-alone exhibitions in terms of how they reflect the season that just ended and how they preview the season to come. 
    Keep in mind, three of the last four times Missouri lost a bowl game they had a better regular season the following year. MU was all doom and gloom after the 2006 and 2009 bowl losses to Oregon State and Navy, respectively. The 2007 and 2010 seasons were pretty impressive. 
    There was a time when Nebraska was a powerhouse in the Big 8. But it seemed like they always had problems in Bowl games and sometimes at the beginning of the year. They just didn't play well the first game after a long layoff. Are wee seeing something like that with Mizzou football now? I still like the overall season, just wondering if this might be the usual.
  • I don't know about Nebraska, but I've used this stat a lot this week: Missouri is 0-6 against FBS teams under Odom after having more than the standard week of practice. I need to add some qualifiers to this, though: All six of those games were played away from home: at West Virginia, at Florida, at Kentucky, vs. Texas (Houston), at South Carolina and vs. Oklahoma State (in Memphis). All six were against teams that finished with winning records, including 10-win WVU and 9-win Florida. That should be taken into consideration. These aren't crummy teams beating Mizzou after these extended layoffs. 
    I'm not sure how to diagnose the common thread aside from the extra days between games. Do the Tigers come out wound too tight? Are they too loose? Hard to say. If Lock gets the first down and throws a TD a play later, we're probably not talking about this trend. Or if Acy isn't called for pass interference at the end of the Kentucky game. So sometimes we tend to cook up sweeping generalizations to determine cause and effect based more on common results than actual evidence that there's a common cause that turns these games into losses. 
  • Let's go ahead and get this one out of the way; does Mizzou have any interest in Carteare Gordon?
  • No signals right now that MU would be interested. He comes with some baggage. Great prospect, obviously, but this doesn't seem like an ideal fit. Remember, Travis Ford's son plays for Martin at Mizzou. If things went sour for Gordon at SLU, Martin will get a straight answer from Ford on what went wrong. Gordon cited "personal issues with my family" as his reason for leaving SLU, so maybe playing just two hours west isn't going to solve that issue.
    What are your early projections for Round & NFL team some Mizzou players will be drafted? Drew Lock, Terry Beckner, Terez Hall, etc.

    Also, Cam Hilton had a big game against OSU. Any chance he might get a chance somewhere as an undrafted free agent?
  • I'm no personnel evaluator, so this is just an educated guess for these guys: 
    Lock, first round. Even if every team doesn't give him a first-round grade, enough teams will fall in love with the idea of drafting a quarterback and all his qualities. Someone needing a QB will take him in the first. 
    Beckner, third-fourth round. He's been productive when healthy. Not always consistent production, but he can penetrate the backfield and make impact plays. He'll test well because he's a good athlete with an ideal frame.
    Emanuel Hall, third-fourth. I've talked to one draft expert insist he's a top-100 pick and maybe the top senior WR available. He'll blow away the timers at the combine. Health is the big question. 
    Terez Hall, fourth-sixth. Good speed. Productive. Physical. Tackles well. High character. 
    Paul Adams, sixth-seventh. Good frame. Physical, Smart. Tough.
    Kendall Blanton, fifth-seventh. Huge. Great blocker. Red zone target.
    Walter Palmore, sixth-seventh. Size and power and production. 
    I'd guess the rest are free agent guys. Cam Hilton had a strong year. He's an athlete, was way more productive this year once he nailed down a job and stayed healthy. Others who will go through pro day and try to make a roster include Brandon Lee, Kevin Pendleton, Nate Brown. 
  • I thought the play calling on the last drive was a little too vanilla in terms of trying to pick up the 2 yards on three straight runs, two of which being extremely similar plays. Was this partially a function of being limited at WR? What was your take?

    Separately, do you think Kelly Bryant's skillset will fit a little better in terms of Drew Lock not being able to fully utilize his arm talent without elite receivers where as Bryant is a bigger running threat? Thanks.
    Good point about the lack of receivers. Hall was out. Johnathon Johnson was very limited. Knox was shaky during the game. He lost a fumble. Had a chance to catch a TD early and couldn't get the ball. He got drilled in the head/neck area along the sideline late. The most reliable receiver on that late drive was Barrett Banister, and I'm not sure throwing the ball to a walk-on in that situation is your best call. 
    Missouri believes in its running game and its O-line. They lined up under center with double tight ends and tried running the ball up the guy with Rountree. They couldn't move the line of scrimmage on third and 1. As a play-caller, after watching that happen, the temptation is probably to run a play that looks similar but adds some misdirection. That's essentially what MU did with the zone-read option on fourth down. The play had worked all night and all season to find a running lane for Lock. If the game's on the line, I'd prefer another handoff to Rountree, but that's probably what OSU expected.  Also, Lock looked slower than usual on that final run. He just got clobbered a couple plays earlier on the fourth-down pass to Johnson. In hindsight, I imagine they would have preferred a different call. At the same time, get a better push on third and 1 - or a better spot from the officials - and fourth down never happens. 
     
    Bryant's running ability will force defenses to take into account in their coverages because he'll always be a threat to scramble. That changes your assignments and philosophy on defense. Missouri better have a potent running game because if Bryant's arm isn't good enough to consistently stretch the field, they might struggle to convert on obvious pass plays. By all accounts, his arm is good enough - just not elite. 
    After reading the coverage in the Post Dispatch (your fine articles,Jeff Gordon's and Ben Hochman's and Ben Fredrickson's columns) should we disband the football team and withdraw from the SEC? I don't know that the University will ever have the resources (players, facilities, coaches) to compete in the best conference in college football.
    I sense some sarcasm here, but it's not a stretch to say there are concerns within the athletics department about MU's ability to compete long-term in this conference. When the head coach has to buy 5,000 tickets to the "rivalry game" at the end of the regular season, it's not exactly a strong endorsement for the fan base. MU fans showed up in full force in Memphis. They deserve credit for that. But they need to show up for home games, too.
    You have said many times that you thought James Franklin was different from most players and interesting. Could you please expand.
    He was candid to a fault. He shared a lot of details and opinions about things that most players would keep private. He had a unique upbringing and was proud to share those anecdotes about his childhood and family. Overall, he was just a very charismatic guy who didn't mind being different from the stereotypical college football player - and it was refreshing to write about someone who was different.
    Let's set the bar at 11-2. That's what they should have been this year.
  • Define "should have been." Because Vandy believes it should have won its close game at Mizzou this year. And Purdue believes it should have won its close game against Mizzou this year. Odom is 3-3 in his last six games decided by one possession. A .500 record in close games is what it is: average - but not terrible. Here's every SEC team's record in games decided by 8 points or fewer over the last three seasons, ranked by winning percentage:
    Alabama 4-1
    South Carolina 13-5
    Florida 7-3
    Kentucky 11-5
    Texas A&M 10-8
    Georgia 7-6
    Tennessee 5-6
    Missouri 4-6
    Ole Miss 4-6
    LSU 5-8
    Mississippi State 5-8
    Auburn 4-7
    Vanderbilt 5-9
    Arkansas 4-8
    Records in close games can be misleading. Not all close games are created equal. With this stat, a one-point win over, let's say, Western Kentucky is worth the same as an 8-point win over Ohio State - but clearly doesn't mean the same thing. But this shows you that winning close games isn't easy - not for winning programs like LSU, Georgia and Auburn. 
    Assuming HCCM has a scholarship for him and wants Carte’Are Gordon, is Mizzou the logical landing place for him? I only know about him what I read in the newspaper and it seems like he has had problems with the Vianney coach so that he transferred to Webster Groves where he also had disciplinary issues of some sort. It’s hard to turn down an athlete of his ability to be a part of 2 state championship teams like he was. His apparent off court issues are a negative. He is also a 54% FT shooter. His athletic ability is unquestioned but his other issues are only disruptive and the multiple instances make me wonder if he is worth having on SLU, MU or any other team.
    There are no indications right now that Missouri would be a landing spot for Gordon. If that changes, I'll report what I can.
    What happened to Hall in the bowl game?
    Odom said after the game that he had "a setback" with his injury, which has been called a groin injury. Hall wasn't available to the media after the game. He didn't play much at all after the second quarter.
    I hope fellow Mizzou fans remain patient with Odom (remember 2 months ago, many people were calling for his head), everybody thought Mark Stoops was going to get fired 3 years ago, but he went 10-3 this year, and changed the culture at UK. Odom is a really good coach, and 8 wins next year should be the floor, maybe they get 9 or 10, we will see, but B.O. deserves support, not derision.
    I understand the disappointment with Monday's result. I also never take a lot of stock into bowl results. Missouri was playing really well down the stretch this year. Then you don't play another game for 38 days. It's hard to recapture the things that were going well. I'd be much more alarmed if Missouri lost that game by double digits or wasn't competitive. But the only new problem that surfaced in that game was Acy's struggles covering downfield. Otherwise, MU's issues were the same things that haunted them most of the season: special teams play, lack of depth at receiver, zero edge pass rush.
    How are the multiple football uniforms paid for? Is is from the athletic budget, donors, something else? Just seem like there are better used for the funds....
    You've got it backwards. Nike pays Missouri huge amounts of money to wear its gear. MU has to order equipment, but Nike pays Mizzou. 
    Also, just because they wear different uniforms every game doesn't mean they're not wearing the same pieces of clothing. These are combinations. They may wear white jerseys five times a year - but they're the same white jerseys. Also, a white helmet is a white helmet. They just put a different decal on each week. Take off the block M, add some stripes and the Tiger logo. It's not like they throw away each piece of clothing or equipment after each game. 
  • After all the buildup to the liberty bowl - Drew Lock and Odom saying how wonderful it would be to have a 9 win season etc etc, the Tigers came out flat for the 2nd consecuctive year with a 3 and out initial drive and an OKSt TD after 5 minutes. Sterk wonders why people don’t flock to COMO and fill up his stadium? Once again it was a disappointing result that I hope makes Odom question his preparation when he he has a month to prepare. Maybe they came make his next pay raise contingent on 8 wins AND a bowl game victory.
    Since when are games determined by the opening drive? MU came right back and led the game after the first three series. Games unfold and evolve. Were you upset that Illinois led Mizzou 12-4 through the first four minutes of the Braggin' Rights Game? No, because the game unfolded and MU played better in the second half.
    I'd say the Clemson staff believed Lawrence had the higher ceiling because of his arm. And he's shown why over the last 10 games. 
    Bryant is a true dual threat QB. He'll impact games with his legs. He was an accurate QB at Clemson, in the high 60s for completion percentage. But he wasn't an elite passer He didn't put up real gaudy numbers throwing the ball. In 2017, his one full year as Clemson's starter he was sixth in the ACC in QB rating - but third in third-down rating. He was 9th in total offense yards per play - not in the same category as Lamar Jackson at Louisville or still effective in terms of being a dual threat. 
    Conjecture? If Albert O and Hall are healthy does Dooley call a pass play in that last series of plays? Anything wrong with Crockett besides his ankle? He hasn't been much help lately.
    Hall isn't much of a red zone threat, so I'm not sure they call a play for him down there late on the final drive. His specialty is beating teams deep with his speed. Obviously if Albert O is available you throw to him at least once in the red zone in that situation. Blanton caught a red zone TD earlier in the game, so it's  not like he can only block in that situation. 
    As for Crockett, he practiced some during the weeks leading up to the game. During pregame warmups, folks who work for the team who had been in Memphis all week were surprised he wasn't in uniform. After getting hurt at Tennessee explained that he had an ankle injury on one leg and a toe injury on the other. I hadn't talked to in more than a month. He didn't do many, if any interviews leading up to the bowl. Before the game, Okwuegbunam was the only player Odom confirmed wouldn't be available in Memphis, so there's still a bit of a mystery with Crockett's situation and how that was handled. 
    SEC 6-5 in bowls game this year, a little disappointing in my opinion, just how good was the league, there were five 10 win teams, but the Georgia, Miss St., South Carolina and Mizzou losses were just bad (Kudos are due to Florida and UK smacking down the Big 10)
    Meh. Like I've said, I don't put that much stock in bowls when star players aren't playing, when the stakes are greatly diminished for some teams and there's such a long layoff between games. Oklahoma State was greatly disappointed with their regular season. Sitting there at Gundy's pregame press conference on Sunday you would have thought the Pokes were 4-8. He didn't have much of anything positive to say about his team and their season. Does the outlook on a disappointing 12-game sample of games completely change because Mizzou didn't get 1 yard in the final minute? I don't buy it. Same reason I don't buy into the doom and gloom after Missouri's loss. The program made strides this year. They were far more competitive than the previous seasons.
    Looked like we traveled well. Do you have an estimate of Mizzou fans at the bowl? Will the Show Me part of the fan base jump back off now?
    B-ball rule question related to Puryear’s strange looking play in Braggin’ Rights: When can you inbound the ball into the back court?
  • Missouri's crowd was excellent in Memphis. Now, will all those fans about 45,000 more show up for the West Virginia game next season? It can't hurt MU's bowl reputation with a big crowd in Memphis, but MU can't lag behind everyone else in home attendance, too. 
    I'm not sure I remember that play from the Illinois game. It seems like it was a month ago. 
  • Dave, tickets for the championship game on Monday have to be very expensive. Do students get a break on the ticket prices?
    For the national championship game? I'm not sure how that works. It's been widely reported that ticket prices on the secondary market are very low, less than $200. That's what happens when teams from Alabama and South Carolina make a game set for Santa Clara, Calif.
    One of the St. Louis TV stations interviewed a Missouri player who was adament that Oklahoma St would not run circles around the MU defense. I guess he was right, Cornelius only passed for 336 yards compared to the 572 passing yards Purdue compiled vs Mizzou in September. Is Drew Lock now claiming MU to be the best 8-5 team in the country?
    It wasn't pretty, but keep in mind, OSU came into the game averaging 500 yards of offense a game. It finished with 502. So, that was an average game for the Cowboys. I expected Missouri to be better on third down, but OSU extended drives and hit on some chunk plays. Again, though, that's an average game for them in the Big 12.
    Really surprised that Mizzou did not throttle OK State in bowl game, i thought there were a good 10 point favorite, why did Mizzou come out so flat in third quarter, it's like they were zombies
    I picked Missouri to win by 10, but let's not forget that OSU beat West Virginia and Texas and came a two-point conversion short of beating Oklahoma. That's a potent team. Their tempo gave MU issues early. OSU wasn't subbing. MU thought it had to sub its D-linemen to keep pace with OSU, and that strategy caught MU out of position a few times on the first couple drives. More than anything, I was impressed and surprised that OSU's defense made just enough clutch stops to force MU into FG situations instead of giving up touchdowns.
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