Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

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




  • He's not a runner. He's athletic enough to carry out a zone-read keeper and pick up a few yards, but he's just not fast enough or physical enough in the open field to be an impact runner.
  • Until the time I was 20 (198), Mizzou, with the occasional aberration of a 1 - 10 season, almost always had a good team. Since then, except for the Pinkel Era, Mizzou has often stunk and stunk badly. What does the university have to do to return the football to consistent winning? No more rebuilding when there is a coaching change; reloading instead. Is this even possible for Mizzou? Thanks.
  • You can reload when you have an established program in place with discipline and standards and methods and players who are invested in the whole operation. You plug in new parts and let the process churn. That's what Mizzou had in the peak Pinkel years. But it took about four years to establish. Pinkel's program didn't begin in August or September. It started in January and every day was meticulously organized. From doing his book the last year I have a much greater understanding and appreciation for how organized and detailed that process was. I have stacks of pages of the Pinkel Bible that explain how the program is run on a daily basis. When you install a real program and then have success on the field, the program regenerates itself year after year with new players. What we don't know yet is if Odom can build something like that. Is this the ground floor of something that will turn into a program? (Remember, the early Pinkel years weren't too fun either.) In some ways it's unfair to compare the established Pinkel process/program with what Odom's running now, but they did have the same job title, so it is fair. A lot of what we've seen lately wouldn't happen midseason under Pinkel. He wouldn't have fired a coordinator two games into the season. He wouldn't have moved his OC to the press box at hafltime of the third game. There was a trusted plan for everything.
  • Quick reminder on when your book on/with Coach Pinkel is out and where we can find? Saw a snippet from it (on Chase Daniel's recruitment) recently and looks like a great read!
  • It was released last week. Barnes & Noble stores in the state should have it. If you can't find in a bookstore, you can buy online at TriumphBooks.com or Amazon or B&N. Thanks.
  • Please change the offense. After first season in SEC it was obvious what was competitive in Big 12 wouldn't work week in and week out with the bigger more physical teams. 90 seconds and defense back on the field has to be changed. It's not a terrible thing to use a huddle.
  • I'll put that on my to-do list.
  • Dave: What's most concerning about the football team under Odom is the continuation of last season's problems: missed assignments on D, poor tackling, offense that does nothing against real defenses, penalties, terrible special teams, dropped passes, bad game management (have I left anything out?). That is a sign to me that Odom doesn't have the chops to get it done. If they were losing but playing cleaner, I would have more faith. I don't remember the early days of Gary Pinkel well, just the broad strokes like the emergence of Brad Smith, so I'm wondering if you recall those days and if, despite the losing record, there was clear improvement from season 1 to season 2. Thanks!
  • Those first two Pinkel teams weren't very talented outside of Brad Smith and they had their share of blowout losses to Nebraska, K-State, Michigan State. But in year two, 2002, Mizzou had wins over Illinois, Kansas and Texas A&M and competitive losses to Oklahoma, Iowa State and Colorado.
  • If Odom stays next year, do you see him getting a special teams coach or a CB coach. Seems like the last two years the problems seem to come from poor tackling or errors on that side of the ball. Does the team lack speed on defense?
  • I think the concept of a special teams coach is really overrated. Almost every team that has a designated special teams coach also has that guy coach the tight ends or running backs. It's a title. Truth is, all the coaches coach special teams. You can't practice a punt and have only one guy coaching the play. Someone has to coach the punt team and someone else has to coach the return team. Same thing with kickoffs. When you have 11 on 11 offense vs. defense, the same coach doesn't coach the offensive line and the defensive line. It's not that hard for a linebackers coach to learn how to coach the punt team and have that be his speciality or an O-line coach learn how to coach the PAT team.
  • Obviously, if they continue to repeat the play of this past week, there will not be another win this season. However, based on the body of work so far, what is a realistic best case scenario? Is a 5 win season even on the table at this point? I just don't see an SEC win without a sudden change in play, and I have seen no evidence to hope for a sudden improvement from any of the team units.
  • Listen, last week's performance was horrible. If that's rock bottom and Mizzou plays marginally better the rest of the season, they'll win some games. They'll beat Idaho and UConn. They'll have a shot against Florida and Tennessee at home. Those teams aren't very good. Neither is Arkansas. But ... if last week's showing is the new normal, then yeah, this team is going to struggle to win every week.
  • Feckless (kudos for the use of that word)? No doubt. Michigan State, Norman Conquest, Powers & Smiths last games? Sure. Demoralized? Almost from Purdue's first first down, it appeared to those in the stands.

    But quitters? That's a pretty serious charge.
  • It's hard to say a team quit - becuase there are 11 players on the field for every play and around 50 who see the field in some capacity. Did they all quit? Did just a dozen or so quit? I don't know how you measure that. But here's the alternative: If Mizzou didn't give up last week and they played their hardest, then that means Purdue, for years one of the worst teams in the Power 5, came in and curbstomped an SEC team that was playing hard. I'm not sure what's worse? The latter scenario means this team was simply outplayed and outcoached by 32 points.
  • Dave - I finished reading GP's book. First of all - great job! It was well written and I enjoyed how candid GP was with his comments. However, considering how long it took for GP to build this program, are we back to a true building phase with where things stand today? There is nothing on either side of the ball (except for Crockett) that gives the fans any encouragement that we can be a competitive team this year and next.
  • I'm not sure I'd say there's nothing on either side. There are coaches in the SEC who would like to have some of Mizzou's receivers and tight ends. There's no reason to give up on this O-line. It didn't have a bad game against South Carolina - just wasn't very physical against Purdue. Beckner, Brandon, Cheadle, Sherrils and Wilson have made some plays on defense - just not enough to make up for mistakes by others. I don't think it's a severe void of talent from top to bottom, just a shortage of the kind of impact players you need to be better than average.
  • During last nights' volleyball game the commentators mentioned that Melanie Crow was coming off an injury. I noticed she hadn't contributed much up to this point. She played well last night, is she back to being 100%?
  • They've been off my radar of late and I haven't heard much on her status other than she's played less than half the team's sets because of her injury.
  • Odom's first year D was great... but he inherited players, a scheme, etc. Since then the D has devolved greatly. This is the most concerning aspect of the team to me... if he can't fix the team in his area of expertise, how does he fix the rest of it?
  • Good question. Defense is his speciality, and he proved that in 2015 when he took a unit that lost Ray and Golden and still produced a strong defense. Obviously he's got a lot more on his plate now, but he hasn't forgotten how to coach defense. It's a matter of having the right pieces and developing them. That's been harder to pull off the last two years.
  • Would you consider the Auburn game the most winnable out of the next three (@UK and @UGA) given Auburn's offense has looked pretty anemic as well?
  • No. Auburn's offense hasn't been up to its standards, but its defense is damn good. I'll be surprised if Mizzou gets close to the red zone more than a couple times. Auburn doesn't need a great offense the way it's playing on defense. Auburn and Georgia are both balanced top 15 teams. I'm not convinced Kentucky is very good - good enough to play in a bowl game and beat Mizzou and South Carolina and maybe Tennessee or Florida but not good enough to win the division.
  • Do you have any hope that we will see improvement this week against Auburn? I know the problems are too big to fix in a really short time, but do you think they are on the right track at all to understanding how to get from where we are to where we need to be?
  • It's not a good matchup by any means. Auburn's defense is physical and deep. I don't think MU will get many big plays - and they haven't proven they can lead long methodical drives against P5 defenses. Auburn's offense hasn't been special, but if Mizzou can't tackle, Kamryn Petway will run for 200 yards.
  • You pointed out in earlier weeks that they can't run Vanilla defensive schemes against SEC caliber teams and expect to succeed. He has had an entire offseason to teach his schemes. Either he can't communicate that to his players, or he can't get buy in. Either is an indictment of his coaching, am I wrong?
  • Possibly. It goes back to the realization that practice isn't the same as games. In camp Jordan Ulmer was the best safety on the team. He graded out higher than the rest. Thomas Wilson graded out low enough that he was no higher than fifth among the top six options. Then they play the games and Wilson is the best safety and Ulmer plays like a freshman and struggles against the speed of the game. To some degree you really don't know what you have in terms of personnel or scheme until you try it against someone else when the live bullets are flying.
  • Interesting that on consecutive weeks Lock had the same interception - throwing to the left sideline - and the DB read him well since he looked that way the entire time. What is the breakdown on that play - unexpected coverage or no plan B?
  • Same spot on the field but the coverage was different on both INTs. Against South Carolina, the DB was playing off Johnson in the slot and simply jumped the route when Johnson turned toward the sideline. Against Purdue, an outside linebacker was drifting back in zone coverage. Lock was attacking the new corner who just came into the game after the starter was injured on the previous play. The new corner was covering Moore on the outside - but Lock clearly didn't see that linebacker who stepped in front of the ball and made the pick.
  • Dave - I realize watching the game film more than once is likely needed, but in watching the live telecasts and highlights, one thing that repeatedly stands out is Heupel's/Lock's consistent use of patterns and passes outside the hash marks. Not including WR screens or similar, the majority of downfield passes occur outside, with very few down the middle of the field (b/w hashes). I realize this is a prime area for TE's and some passes do go near this area, and there is some success. However, very few mid-range, b/w the hashes passes are attempted (play action toReece TD against SC). If you agree, would you consider this a product of Heupel's offense or simply a lack of confidence in Lock throwing over the middle? One could perpetuate the other and it could obviously be a combination, but welcome your thoughts outside of these.
  • That wasn't the case against South Carolina or Missouri State where Lock often targeted the tight ends down the seam and the slot receivers inside the numbers. Lock threw to his inside targets more than he threw to his right or left outside receivers in the USC game. Now, against Purdue, the bulk of the action went outside. Heupel explained Monday that the TEs were left on the line to pass-block most of the game because Purdue is a heavy blitz team and Heupel thought the line needed an extra body in protection. Also, the lack of a running game took away the play-action threat to the tight ends. Sometimes coverage dictates where Lock's reads take his eyes, but, sure, it does seem like in games like that they can afford to find ways to get those tight ends more involved.
  • What happened to the momentum coming into this football season? The team made great strides in their last couple games last season and a good amount of the players from that team returned. They seem to have really regressed.
  • I'm not sure there's such a thing as momentum from late November to the following September. Coaches have an entire offseason to study and develop their teams. Had they played Purdue and South Carolina last December, maybe Mizzou keeps the momentum going - but not nine months later.
  • I was an undergrad during the Stull years. The Purdue Embarrassment hearkened back to those glory days. With another Stull-like season, don't you have to go in another direction, to prevent a program collapse?
  • Jim Sterk might be asking that question in two months. A lot depends obviously how the next nine weeks go.
  • I have obviously heard a lot of calls for Odom to be relieved of his duties, but haven't heard a single mention of asking for Heupel to be gone. Right now there is nothing that this team does well, but the last two games the offense has definitely been the worst. You mentioned that it isn't Sterk's mantra to get rid of head coaches in season, but obviously doesn't have the same rule with assistants.
  • I don't sense there are conflicts between Heupel and the players or Heupel and Odom like there were with Cross. Very different situations. That said, his unit has been really disappointing. No excuse for one TD over 25 possessions, not with the kind of talent this team has on that side of the ball.
  • Is there any kernel you have seen this week to think that Odom is equipped to right the ship? I watched his post-game conference and the Tuesday press conference. He looks and sounds beaten.
  • Coaches beat themselves up when things go wrong. They all do. I wouldn't measure him on his demeanor. If he had a deeper track record as a head coach, we could cite examples of how the was able to fix problems like this, but he simply doesn't have the  body of work. I give him credit for getting last year's team up for a mostly meaningless game against Arkansas. Mizzou clearly wanted that second half more and had the gumption and toughness to focus and outplay the Hogs for 30 minutes. Odom deserves credit for that game. Otherwise ...
  • There is lot wrong with Mizzou football right now. I am wondering about the punt return team. It seems like we should be able to find someone who can simply fair catch a punt. (I am not talking specifically about the fumbles, but the fact both guys we have used seem to run away from the ball.) Can't we find one guy who can catch the ball and not fumble? Why not put Ish Witter back on punts? At least he does not fumble.
  • If those guys struggle again Saturday, you've got to look at someone else. But they need help from the other 10 guys on the return unit too. The group as a whole is discombobulated.
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