Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

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




    Greetings, Mizzou chatters. I'm here for the next couple hours to talk about whatever's on the brain. Let's get this started ... now.
    Tiger MBB road schedule looks pretty rugged. Can a young team navigate that schedule with a good enough record to make the tourney?
    Mizzou's playing away from home more than most teams in nonconference play, but I'm not sure I'd label this team as young. The nucleus of this team has played a lot of college basketball games. Tilmon. Dru Smith. Mark Smith. These guys have all played two years of Division I hoops, which in today's game makes them legitimate veterans. Watson, Pinson and Pickett played a lot of minutes last year. All three are seasoned sophomores. At this point, it's uncertain just how many minutes the true newcomers will see - the freshmen: McKinney, Jackson, Brown - but either way, this is a fairly experienced team by any standard. The Tigers will play true road games at Xavier, Temple and West Virginia. Those are three solid programs but hardly loaded with superior talent, experience. These should be valuable tests for Martins' team. And if they can pull of a few wins, those are especially valuable RPI chips when it comes time for postseason seeding.
    Hi Dave...Your article on SEC football attendance was interesting. Has there been any thought to adding a 9th conference game to help combat this issue? I realize you lose a home game every other year but also don't have to pay the opponent to come. Thanks.
    The ninth conference game has been proposed but usually gets shot down by everyone in the league not named Nick Saban. Naturally the coach with the best players supports playing another conference game, but his peers are almost always universally against the concept. When your job security is tied to your W-L record and you play in the conference that's already hailed as the most difficult in the game, you're going to prefer a nonconference game against a lesser opponent instead of another SEC team. That motivation, too, I understand ... but for the greater good of the game I'd like to see the SEC go to a ninth conference game, as well as an end to playing FCS opponents. Both moves could boost attendance figures, but neither changes are going to happen  anytime soon.
    When will the team learn of Shawn Robinson’s status for this year?
    You would think the NCAA would want to make a ruling before the start of the season so Missouri and Robinson know his status before the games begin, but you never know with the NCAA decision-makers. There's some upside to Robinson getting instant eligibility. Even if he only appears in four games this year - so he can preserve the year of eligibility - that would be valuable game experience in Dooley's offense before he gets a chance to win the starting job for 2020.
  • Two questions: 1) Is this year's secondary among the best you've seen the Tigers field in your time covering Mizzou? 2) Mizzou has not thrived in close games in Barry Odom's three years as coach, beating only Arkansas (twice) and Vandy in close ones. Do you think the team will be better in nail-biters this year?
    1. I'm not convinced the safety group is better than average, but Acy/Holmes is the best cornerback tandem since ... probably the late 1990s, when you had the likes of Wade Perkins, Julian Jones, Carlos Posey and Shad Criss at corner, with Caldrinoff Easter and Harold Piersey at safety. None of those guys were NFL players for very long but were all excellent players in the Big 12. The 2007 safety tandem of William Moore and Pig Brown was the best I've seen for the Tigers - until Brown's injury - but the corners on that team were good, not exactly great. 
    2. Here's Odom's three-year record in games decided by 7 points or less: 4-6. He's got the two close wins over Arkansas, last year's win at Purdue and last year's win over Vandy. The losses have come against Oklahoma State, Kentucky (twice), South Carolina, Georgia and Middle Tennessee. Will this team be better in closer games? A lot will come down to the defense's ability to get third-down stops, the offense's ability to run clock/make first downs or ability to play catch-up if trailing. And, here's a biggie, you need special teams that control field position and avoid disasters. Jury is out if this team will be better defensively and on special teams. With a sound running game, a veteran quarterback and a coordinator who's proven he can adjust pace, the offense should be able to maintain drives to finish out close games. So, in other words, we'll see. 
    Dave
    Do you see any scenarios where the Tigers use a four-guard attack similar to when Frank Haith was here? On paper, looks like we have six good guards needing lots of PT.
    Talk to me.
    John L
  • They used a four-guard lineup at times last season, not necessarily to start games but during segments of games, notably against Arkansas. I asked Martin earlier this offseason if he'll go to four games again this year. "Oh yeah. I think so. I think you’ll have a lot of guys on the floor who can shoot the ball. We’ll have multiple ball-handlers who can make decisions with the ball. That helps. The reps playing against each other this summer, they’ll get better. They’ll get stronger."
    Mitchell Smith is playing the four and five positions - he was toying with the three last offseason and early last year - but he told me he's battling Tray Jackson at the four most often. Parker Braun would be in the mix there, too. Tilmon and Reed Nikko are your true centers. 
    Everyone else is more of a perimeter player, so it's easy to envision some rotations that look like Dru Smith, Mark Smith, Torrence Watson, Javon Pickett and Tilmon, leaving Watson or Pickett to guard the four position. Last week players talked about having multiple players with the size/strength/versatility to guard the one through four positions. That's going to make this team unique on both ends, especially on the defensive end. Don't forget Kobe Brown, whom one teammate described as a "four guard," meaning he's more of a perimeter player but can play the four position in a four-guard lineup.
  • Is our football team relatively healthy heading into our practices? By that I mean is everyone coming in ready for full contact (Albert O, etc.)?
    At SEC media days, Odom said freshman cornerback Ish Burdine (shoulder) is the only player that would miss practice. So, yes. The Tigers will come into camp healthy, in terms of serious injuries. A handful of guys might be limited some while overcoming offseason procedures, but they don't have multiple players out significantly.
    What are the actual chances of a post season reversal by the NCAA?. I just can't think of anything in recent history that the NCAA has reversed. Maybe you know of a few that could help keep us positive about the outlook? Are we drinking the kool-aide or could it actually occur?...#makeitright
    It's impossible (and foolish) to handicap NCAA decisions with odds or percentages. It's rare to see a postseason ban reversed. But this case has been unique from the start. Past precedent doesn't always apply with the NCAA. Jim Sterk has been smart to say he believes they have a strong case ... because that way, if the sanctions are upheld he can continue to galvanize the fan base and build support with an us-against-them approach that seems to be working this offseason.
    Where does Mizzou stand on local star products like Fletcher and Love?
    Fletcher has Mizzou in his top five with Kentucky, Michigan State, Alabama and North Carolina. He'll reportedly visit Kentucky next week. if he makes that visit and doesn't quickly commit, that's good news for Missouri.
    As for Love, there's been some tweets from recruiting folks that he might cut down his list to six this week. Some great programs could still be in the mix. UNC, Virginia, Kansas, Louisville. 
     
    If the post season ban is not lifted, I thought I read somewhere that the baseball team can elect to use this past season as their post season ban. Is that correct?
    Incorrect. Missouri played in the SEC tournament. That counts as the postseason.
    Why does Mizzou not schedule games against SLU? or the up and coming Missouri State? Ford is builidng something down in Springfield. Mizzou, SLU, MSU should be playing one another as it would just simply be good for Missouri CBB
  • It would be great for fans. They'd sell a bunch of tickets. If you're Mizzou - and this is hardly a new argument - what's the upside competitively? If you win the game, meh, you're supposed to win those games. If you lose, it's a colossal upset ... because Missouri is from a power conference and the others are not. And power conferences aren't supposed to lose to mid-majors. And if you lose to a mid-major within your state border, the scrutiny is magnified. 
    Now, Martin has said he wouldn't mind playing SLU if it's in Mizzou's best interest. He's been more open to the idea than some of his predecessors. We know he gets along with Travis Ford ... otherwise Ford wouldn't have sent his son to play for Martin as a walk-on. 
  • Who will be the Tigers best wide receiver this year?
    Good question. Jalen Knox might have the most upside as a deep threat on the outside. Jonathan Nance might be the closest to a sure thing. He's been a leading receiver in the SEC previously (at Arkansas) and quickly built some chemistry with Kelly Bryant this spring. He was really smooth and reliable on the outside. Then you've got Johnathon Johnson in the slot. He'll get plenty of touches. He was MU's best downfield threat in the bowl game, and if he can produce at that level all fall, he'll finish his career as the team's career leader in receiving yards. So, for now I'll lean toward Johnson ... but wouldn't be surprised if it's one of the other two.
    Good Morning Dave - It's great that we have Kelly Bryant on our team this year, especially with a schedule that is in our favor. Except for the throwing accuracy of long, deep passes I'm not saying that is a problem for Kelly) - have not heard any areas of concern with his game? Thank You
    He threw more interceptions in 2017 than you'd like to see from a QB, but his accuracy was not a problem for the most part. He completed nearly 66 percent of his passes - better than any of Drew Lock's seasons. From what I've seen he's got enough touch on his deep ball to still stretch defenses vertically - not at Lock's level, but he left a pretty difficult standard to match when it comes to the deep ball. Bryant has played in big games. He's won big games. He's a threat to run the ball on any play and take a designed carry or a scramble 60 yards. More than anything, he can move the chains. That will be his job and he's proven he can do that at a high level.
    While Albert O and Parker are generating most of the talk of our tight ends, how has Messiah Swinson progressing? I understand they were high on him before his season ended before it got started due to injury.
    He's an impressive looking athlete who's more in the mold of a receiving tight end. He worked with the backup units in the spring once he was cleared for full contact. He's got a chance to earn playing time this year, but 2020 figures to be his year for a bigger role. Okwuegbunam won't leave the field much this season as long as he's healthy, because you can use him in multiple roles. In a three-point stance on the line. Split wide. In the slot. In the backfield. Parker is more of an in-line blocker but can move around some, too. If Swinson can earn the third tight end job, he'll have a chance for a minor role - again with 2020 as his potential breakout year.
    That's the whole logic behind Missouri's "chilling effect" argument in its appeal. It makes a lot of sense, but it's still a hypothetical. Other schools in MU's shoes have made similar arguments - Ole Miss - and schools continue to cooperate with the NCAA for fear of worse sanctions. It's easy to separate yourself from a case and say schools should lock the doors and keep the NCAA investigators at bay - until you're an AD in the crosshairs of the NCAA and you risk grave sanctions for withholding your evidence. I have to remind readers that Mizzou is not at odds with the NCAA investigators, the folks who came to Columbia and studied all the evidence in the tutor case. Once the investigators concluded their work - doing the digging alongside MU's compliance staffers - MU was confident they would avoid serious sanctions. It was the infractions committee that threw the curveball. If the sanctions stick and the appeal doesn't work, the true test will come the next time a program is investigated for violations. Will they cooperate and resist? Impossible to predict at this point. 
    Another point people have forgotten: Had Mizzou basketball not committed violations in the Haith years, these sanctions probably wouldn't have been as severe. The infractions committee made that pretty clear. 
    Dave - It's great to have Albert O healthy and back in the starting line up - I think he will be a solid weapon for the offense. Last year however, he started the season slow and was just starting to break out before his injury knocked him out. Do you think the slow start was due to him getting double teamed, Dooley's new system, etc.?
  • I'd say his slow star had more to do with Albert not being as sharp or prepared for having an extended role. He fumbled a couple times. He had some costly penalties. He had some drops. He just didn't seem as focused. Maybe his 2017 success came so easily on natural talent that he wasn't as prepared mentally for the bigger role he'd take on as a sophomore.
  • I see that coach Odom has decided to allow reporters into all the practices. I realize that this is great for the media who cover the team. But how do they stop people from coming in from other schools and watching our plays and giving away secrets. Or how do they even know for sure that it is a person from the press. Maybe it's just a person spying for another team to get an advantage over Mizzou.
    #paranoidstrikesdeep
    Media who cover practice are required to have season credentials to cover the team. You just can't show up on the practice field and watch unless you're cleared to be there. They have staffers on hand who make sure only credentialed media are there to watch practice. It's not a concern.
    Has Vianney become a pipeline for Mizzou Baseball? Cornelious just got drafted, and Mann is on track to be next.
    It's been a strong high school program and if anyone has respect for that school it's Bieser.
    We know that Cale Garrett is really solid, but can you give us a run down on the other linebackers who you expect to start and the outlook overall for the linebackers in 2019?
    Missouri plays a base 4-2-5 defense, so the only other linebacker on the field in the  base package will be Nick Bolton, sophomore who played as a true freshman last fall. He steps in to replace Terez Hall. Bolton played a lot last year in the Alabama game after Hall got ejected and again in the bowl game when Hall got hurt. The staff loved his maturity and football IQ last year. He's a physical guy, seems to be in the right place at the right time. He's an interesting guy to watch this season. Aubrey Miller and Jamal Brooks are next up as the primary backups at the two inside positions. 
    Ronnell Perkins and Khalil Oliver will play a hybrid safety/outside linebacker/nickelback position that was called strongside linebacker in past years. 
    How long does the Jim Sterk contract as Athletic Director run? I think he has done an amazing job so far and I just hope he stays around for a long time.
  • When he was hired in 2016 he signed a seven-year contract through 2023.
    Dave - Has Barry Odom discussed what the team needs to do to get more wins early in the season? I know schedules can be a disadvantage - but the schedule should work in our favor this year. We need to play with a more sense of urgency. Thank You
    It needs to be a concern, and Odom is well aware that the early-season performances have been an issue the last three years. Not sure how but I would think they'd address it in camp.
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