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.

  • Missouri still recruits Georgia. Freshman center Case Cook came from Georgia. You need more than two running backs and the staff LOVES Rountree. They've never been too thrilled with Strong. You don't bench the better player just to save a year of eligibility for 2021. How does Wilson go from starting to not part of the rotation. Go watch the 2016 season. He made a lot downfield tackles. He missed a lot of tackles. He's just never been a difference-maker back there. Sherrils had a rough 2016 but if he can get back to playing the way he did in 2015, he's a good SEC safety. Perkins was the group's best tackler last season. Hilton can be a playmaker when the ball's in the air. He just has to be more physical. And Ulmer graded out higher than the rest in the two scrimmages. Someone has to be the odd man out.
  • What does Odom and the staff want to get out of the Mo St game, besides remaining healthy and a W? Are they looking to establish an early rhythm, develop a team identity for the rest of the year, work on potential issues before SC and conference play or something else entirely?
  • You want to see a functional offense that can either create big plays or lead extended drives. No stalls. On defense you want to see crisp tackling, consistent heat up front, takeaways and third-down stops. Generally, you want to see those things every week, but if you're coaching Missouri this game you just don't want to see any glaring weaknesses. Better competition will expose anything that comes up troubling on Saturday.
  • Has the role of DeMontie Cross been solidified? Is it still subject to change given results?
  • He's still the defensive coordinator and still coaches inside linebackers. That hasn't changed. Odom will do most of the play-calling on game day. That's not entirely unusual. Lots of head coaches have offensive coordinators but still call the plays on game day.
  • If Drew Lock is able to reach his goal of 65% completion percentage, are 4,200 yards and 35 TDs reasonable expectations? With those numbers, I feel like it would be tough not to be 9-3, no?
  • Maybe. But check out these passing numbers from 2016: 65.7 percent, 5,052 yards, 41 touchdowns, 10 interceptions. Looks like a Heisman candidate on a playoff team, right? No, that was Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes, whose team went 5-7 and just 3-6 in the Big 12. Great QB play won't get it done alone for Mizzou this year if the Tigers can't play defense. Granted, the Big 12 and the SEC are different conferences with different strengths and weaknesses, but two of Lock's better games last year came in losses (Georgia, Kentucky) because MU couldn't get a stop or a turnover.
  • What can you tell us about your upcoming book on Gary Pinkel? What approach did you take? when will it be out?
  • I don't want to use this forum to promote the book too much, but it will be released Sept. 15 and can be purchased online now at the usual places where books are sold. We spent about four months doing interviews and then I wrote Gary's story in his voice. Then we spent two to three months in the editing process, rewriting and tweaking everything. Mizzou fans will learn a lot about his story, his personality, his family, the major decisions he made over 15 years at MU - and lots on the 2015 season.
  • What player was your biggest disappointment of fall camp or player you thought would take a big step forward,but didn't? Thanks!
  • Again, we don't get to watch enough live drills (or any) to really get a good measure of how guys are playing. The depth chart and interviews with players and coaches become the measuring stick when scrimmages are closed to the media. All three tight ends are going to play, but I would have thought Kendall Blanton would have generated more buzz and secured a starting job. The staff really likes what Jason Reese brings to the offense - but Blanton and Albert O will still see the field plenty. Remember, Culkin was listed as the starter all last season and it was actually Blanton who was on the field for the first series last year at West Virginia. On defense, I was a little surprised to see that Terez Hall hadn't completely secured a starting job. He's going to split reps with Joey Burkett.
  • Seems there is a lot of pessimism expecting a .500 record surrounding the '17 edition. They were a few plays away from 6-6 last year. If the O-line keeps Lock upright and can move the chains running the ball, you take a lot of pressure off your defense. They've had too many 3 and outs last few years and ceded momentum. 9 wins looks achievable with Lock & Moore playing to their top end talent and a generally slightly above average defense, but 8 wins looks very possible in the East. Seems like all the attention is on FL, GA, TN again and they all have flaws. Plus I don't see Tigers losing 3 years in a row to Kentucky. I admit much does come down to Lock playing like an All-SEC QB in actual SEC games, but he should be one of the better QBs in the league with his talent and now experience under his belt. Thoughts?
  • I picked 7-5 and want to see more from this defense before projecting anything better than that. This group was horrible last year - and had a first-round pass rusher and a handful of other guys talented enough to be in NFL training camps. I'm not sold on the pass rush yet. Frazier was great down the stretch last year after the scheme change but had the luxury of playing with Harris, a known commodity on the other edge. Both starting D-tackles have upside but both are coming off major knee surgery. Jordan Harold was mostly invisible last year. The backup D-ends have never played a snap of D-I ball. Not one linebacker could outright win his position. That might be a concern - unless it's because the backups are THAT good. I'm not saying the defense will again be the worst in the SEC, but I need some evidence that it's improved before blindly expecting great things.
  • Dave,
    High school coach in Texas. Still hearing schools use the campus "unrest" situation against us in recruiting. Enrollment is way down, what is Mizzou doing publicly to combat this perception and move on. Two SEC coaches were talking to one of our kids and said "not a good time to be on that campus in Columbia".
  • That's the challenge everyone in position of power at Mizzou has to overcome. There's no unrest in Columbia or on campus. There were a few days of chaos two years ago. Since then, barely a blip in terms of reported incidents that would register as anything close to "unrest." But the perception is what they're up against here, from the top down, the university leadership, PR folks, coaches and athletics leaders. Yes, enrollment is down, but campus retention is very high. Kids who attend school here aren't leaving. I think the campus needs to do more to sell those facts to families and high schools around the state and around the country. Howard Richards is doing important work in St. Louis, working with schools at the elementary level to build impressions of Mizzou and Columbia before kids reach high school.
  • How does Butch Jones keep recruiting that well at Tennessee without winning? Also, how much longer till the Vols are tired of winning recruiting day, and nothing else?
  • Tennessee is a great program with history and facilities and an enormous fan base. They have a strong brand. That's why Jones is under pressure to win at a higher level. The coach at Tennessee has a lot of resources and luxuries that only a select few of peers have in this league or any other. And he's got to win more with the talent he's collected.
  • Sorry, meant "looking bad" in earlier reference to Sumlin...
  • I figured. A&M typically starts off strong under Sumlin. Things come unglued in November. I don't expect the Aggies to be much better than 8-4 or 9-3 this year. Expectations there should be higher, much like Tennessee, because of the resources, the fan base, the facilities, the talent base, but we've seen several Aggie coaches struggle to capitalize on all those qualities. You can do a lot worse than what Sumlin's done there, but the expectation is higher, always.
  • Witter, at least to me, never seemed to have the needed size to be able to get yards after contact, but he does have speed. How does Rountree compare in terms of speed to Witter/Crockett?
  • I think Witter was the opposite of his reputation last year. He was more physical than fast. He's not shifty. He's not a burner by any means. But you give him a crease and he'll get you a first down between the tackles. Rountree is more dynamic, more elusive, taller and more powerful. Early last year, Crockett avoided contact more last year than Witter, which is not the way it's supposed to work when you're 230 pounds. But after playing a year of college ball, Crockett has all the tools to be a complete back this year. Physically, he cuts the mold of an NFL back.
  • Dave,
    Is there an SEC team the rest of the media is buying in to that you're skeptical of? Mine would be Tennessee...They lost their QB, Top RB, top WR, plus Barnett, Reeves-Maybin, and Sutton.
  • Well, I picked Tennessee sixth in the SEC East, ahead of everyone but Vandy, so I'm clearly not buying in. I think Arkansas is getting too much love as a possible 9-win team. I think the Mississippi schools are getting underrated. Both will have potent offenses. That should give them a chance most weeks.
  • I imagine, there will be passing/fast offense in the first quarter of the Mo State game. Otherwise, we will be treated to a steady stream of running. If the game goes as planned, ahead by a good margin, who comes in as backup QB/RB for the second half?
  • All three backs will get touches the first half. I would not expect Crockett to get more than 10 carries and I doubt you'll see him in the second half. Scrimmages were closed to the media but I was told he got zero carries - zero point zero - in the two full-contact scrimmages. The staff considers him that valuable. You'll see lots of Rountree in the second half. Maybe Nate Strong if his knee is feeling better. Dawson Downing could get some touches, too. At quarterback, Heupel said he might play both backups, Wilson and Lowary.
  • How much of last year's DL woes were Shipp's fault? Do you get the sense that he wasn't on board with what Cross/Odom wanted? It seemed that he didn't get along with his players... I'm sure that didn't help, but was that contributing as well?
  • Rather than rehash everything from last year that I've written about ad nauseam, here's what Jordan Harold told me about new DL coach Brick Haley just a few days ago: "Haley brings  a lot more love. To him it’s not just a job. For other coaches it wasn’t just a job, but he stresses it a lot more, the fact that he cares and wants everyone to be great." Interpret as you will. 
    Trust and compassion are important with these players. They never had that with Shipp. For one, he didn't get the job until February, and he clearly wasn't Odom's first choice. He's an older coach. Grizzled. Friendly enough the few times I interviewed him but you didn't see him forming relationships with the players. Haley is all about relationships - and not just with his guys but players in other position groups. He hasn't coached in a game yet but I'll go on record saying he might be Odom's best hire. Those D-linemen have had four position coaches in three years. They needed someone they could trust. 
    A couple weeks ago I asked Haley if he had to be sensitive to all the coaching changes his linemen have gone through. Incredibly candid and thoughtful answer here:
    “I don’t think I was sensitive at all. We had a coaching change. That happens. Now what I’ve got to do is build each other’s trust and learn to trust each other and go play. I told them I understand the things that have happened, but that’s behind us. We’ve got to look forward. I told them all, 'If you’ve got a car, that rearview mirror is a lot smaller than that windshield. So eventually what’s in front of us is a heck of a lot more important than what’s behind us.'
    "I’m coming in new. These guys have no idea who I am. So what I wanted to do was get get to know the group, get to know the team. It's important for me not to just know and intermingle with my guys, the defensive line. We’re going against the offensive line every day. It’d be great if I got to know those guys. Every now and then I want to be able to pat them on the back. It’s a team thing. I want to praise them when they do well. I want to call them by their name and I want it to be personal.”
  • If Mizzou does not win 6 games this year is Barry Odom on the hot seat next year?
  • Yes. If the team stays home for bowl season he's under more pressure to get this thing turned around in 2018.
  • Any new information on the academic fraud investigation?
  • Nope. Ms. Kumar went on a twitter rant the other day about no longer being part of the investigation, but she already gave the NCAA investigators her account during an eight-hour interview back in January. She can't take it back. Perhaps they don't have evidence that she was instructed to cheat, but if the NCAA believes she did work for MU athletes, there will be some kind of penalty. It won't be as harsh as it would be should the NCAA find a system of fraud, but cheating is cheating and never goes unpunished.
  • Hey Dave, who gets more game action Saturday...lowary or Wilson? Which one comes in first?
  • Really don't know. When asked Monday Heupel said they'd determine that later in the week.
  • Hi Dave. Where do you rank Crockett as far as SEC backs. Stinchcomb had him ranked fifth. Thx
  • I voted him first-team SEC, but I'd put Derrius Guice No. 1. Then I think Crockett belongs in the same first-tier company as Nick Chubb, Kamryn Pettway, Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris. It's just a loaded league. The Bama guys might not put up huge numbers for the season because they'll split carries, but pound for pound they might be the best backs in the league. We haven't even mentioned Ralph Webb, Benny Snell, Trayveon Williams.
  • With Stec coming back to town, was thinking about the infamous three-man line against Auburn during the SEC title game that year. Did you ever get a sense of why they stuck with that scheme?
  • This dead horse just. won't. die. I think the idea was to get more athletes on two feet to chase down the QB and RB on the outside runs. It didn't work because Auburn just gashed the middle. They were out of gaps repeatedly. The plan backfired.
  • Texas coach needs to share J'Mon's comment that he's not experienced problems at Mizzou. Find the quote.
  • You're welcome. From Aug. 4: “From the time I stepped in here this school has showed me love,” Moore said. “I know with all the stuff that’s gone on here, I’ve never experienced any (discrimination). I’ve gotten nothing but love from the students, classmates, professors. I’ve got nothing but love. I’ve had a good time on this campus. Shoot, I want to stay here but I’ve got to get up out of here. It’s just been a good place for me. Everybody has different experiences. Some people come here and it’s not what they thought it was. They have to go other places. I’ve had nothing but good times here. When I have kids someday and they want to come here I’d support them.”
  • It seems like a lot of fans expect the defense to improve this year even though the defensive two-deep has a lot of new names and players that struggled last year, with often no better reason that it can’t be that bad again. During this camp, Odom has mentioned that he has placed an emphasis on getting more guys on the depth chart ready to play. Reading into that, it seems like part of the issue with the defense last year was that when things fell apart, the staff didn’t have back-up players ready when the starters weren’t performing and couldn’t correct issues in-season as a result. So, if there is hope for an average defense this year, it seems based on a faith in Odom’s abilities as a defensive coach to have fixed it in the 9 months since the end of the last season, with a lot of the same personnel that was so bad last year. Is it realistic that coaching would have that much influence?
  • Maybe, but it's still about talent, speed and depth. Odom said he made a mistake in not getting the 2s and 3s ready this year. This year he's made it clear he hates depth charts and plans to play lots of players, especially on defense. Maybe it'll make a difference.
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