Hey, there, chatters. I'm back after a week masquerading as a golf writer. Mizzou is two weeks through preseason camp. I'll be here for the next two hours to talk all things Tigers. Keep in mind, the media gets to see very little of what the team actually does on the field other than stretching, individual position drills and special teams work, so there's not a lot I get to see to share with our dear readers. On that note, bring it on ...
I follow what Stu Durando reports in our paper, but that's the extent to my knowledge. SLU should be picked no lower than third or fourth in the A-10 this year, I would think.
There's never just one focus for a team of 120 players. Between now and Sept. 1, they need to stay healthy but also get players acclimated for the speed and physicality of live action so they're ready on game day. They need to settle in on starters and key backups for all their sub packages and figure out who plays where in the kicking game.
MPJ? He wasn't really around the team that much from November to March to have any strong relationships with the other players, other than his brother. I never sensed genuine animosity for him, but I don't think he left Mizzou with 12 new pen pals that he'll stay connected with for the rest of his life. Was there tension and friction when he returned in March? Absolutely. You had to be naive not to notice. But I didn't sense any real spite or resentment.
The team has to return to Columbia this weekend. As far as I know he's expected back. He said on social media the other day that he's playing for Mizzou this year. Cuonzo hasn't expressed any alarm when asked about the situation. Then again, nothing rattles that guy. He beat cancer and suvrived The Hole in East St. Louis. As for who played the point with Pinson out, Cuonzo has said Pickett can get some minutes there. Jontay can handle the ball, though he won't be a point guard, per se. As far as practices go, the Smiths, Mark and Dru, can play the point, but obviously they're not eligible to see the floor in games this year.
We don't get to see enough to come away with any strong impressions. Anyone who does is better at extrapolating from stretching than me. I do think this defense is more equipped to have multiple sub packages. They're stronger up the middle with the depth at talent at D-tackle. The first unit linebackers are solid, though Hall has missed a lot of time with his hamstring injury. I'm still not sold on the secondary, but there are lots of young options back there.
I am not aware if that's been resolved.
I watched the entire first season. I thought the second season got corny and too staged. Mizzou has its own in-house production crew plus a 24-hour conference network to promote its program, and I'm not sure this program is compelling enough for a documentary. You don't hear Barry curse in practice. His assistants are more blue.
He's gotten strong reviews from AJ Ofodile and Drew Lock. Hall is anxious to prove he's more than a deep threat. We'll see how he handles route-running and absorbing more contact. He's driven to prove he's a complete receiver.
I was surprised he got what's probably the best head-coaching job outside of the Power 5 conferences - and a job that's better than a handful of Power 5 jobs. His offense will work in that league. I'm not sure it's suited to win championships in a league like the SEC or Big Ten where the best teams have elite defenses. But he'll win in the AAC, especially this year because UCF Is loaded with returning talent.
Probably not. He's fast for a 290-pound guy but not elite speed off the edge like you need to rush the passer. He's a mauler. He'll be a productive player inside ... with the ability to move to the edge in certain situations.
I think this team has moved past that game. Terez Hall had the entire defense watch the Missouri State game the week before camp began to remind them of how poorly they played. The defense played fairly well during the six-game winning streak last year. I think the coaching changes they've since made will only help. Not saying this is an elite defense or even top half of the SEC, but I doubt we'll see a repeat of last year's opener.
Not according to a conversation I had yesterday with the assistant AD in charge of the entire operation. He said there was a small delay that involved some of the steel they're using but no serious setbacks. The crane is up now and will be through the first five games.
Good move. Ofodile needed to be a position coach and this is where he's best suited. He's got a great football mind and players really connect with him. Hill has poured himself into special teams and those units should be better with a coach who has more accountability tied to its success.
Fair point. OK, best experience of newspaper career.
They're taking part in the scrimmages. They need to practice at full speed. That's one reason why Odom believes last year's team came out so flat in September. They backed off full-contact drills in August and held too many players out of drills. Plus, with a new offense, I don't think you can afford to not scrimmage two of your best players who are still adjusting to the changes.
South Carolina and Florida are winnable, but I'm picking those as losses for now. Purdue is tricky. Boilers absolutely blasted Mizzou in Columbia last year. But I think those teams were much more evenly matched through the course of the full season than they were that day. Still, not an easy game on the road this year. To get close to nine wins, Mizzou has to win some games that won't be easy. Kentucky. Tennessee. Arkansas. The Vols and Hogs are unpredictable to some degree with new head coaches. Plus, those games are late in the year. Think back to 2016. As a first-year head coach, Odom had the Tigers playing much better late in the season and they were able to pick off Vandy and Arkansas. You might see something similar out of Tennessee and Arkansas this year under new coaches.
It's a different kind of line. Now all the depth and known talent is at tackle. Beckner. Palmore. Elliott. Brandon. Utsey. The ends are the unknowns. Can Tre Williams step up and be an every-down edge player? The staff loves Chris Turner's approach to practice. Can he translate that into Saturday production. What can the freshmen ends contribute? What happens when they move some of those 300-pounders to the edge. The 2013-14 teams were lethal off the corners, one of the best collection of pass rushers of any SEC team since Mizzou joined the league. This current team has a lot of upside inside but the edges are still an unknown.