Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

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

    Welcome back, Mizzou chatters. We're another week closer to the (possible) start of preseason football camp. As you read about in Thursday's Post-Dispatch, tomorrow marks a significant day in the preseason schedule, the start of enhanced summer access. For the first time since March, Drinkwitz and his coaches can work with players on the field in walk-through drills. No pads, but they can use a football and simulate plays without full contact.
    For the past couple weeks the coaches could be on the field with players for conditioning drills, but starting tomorrow, the activities become more football related. Plus, the permissible mandatory sessions go from 8 hours a week to 20 hours a week. 
    Here's more if you missed the story: 

    Mizzou's offense short on time to develop identity

    STLtoday.com: Drinkwitz's offenses have historically leaned in the direction of quarterback's talents.
    Is Cuonzo Martin on the hot seat? His recruiting is suspect as of late and the energy surrounding the program remains low.
    In a world of unlimited finances for athletics departments, sure, Martin would be under some pressure to make significant progress in 20-21. But Mizzou's circumstances will all but certainly ensure that he'll coach at least two more years. As you know if you've been reading the coverage the last several years, Mizzou athletics has operated at a budget deficit for the last three years. Now, you throw in a projected 20-percent downturn in revenue for the 2020 fiscal year in the wake of the pandemic. Also, don't forget, Mizzou's just completed fiscal year numbers will be short roughly $10 million because of the football postseason ban. 
    Should Mizzou want to make a head coaching change in basketball next spring, the school would owe Martin $6 million. 
    Throw all those factors into the equation and Mizzou is not in a place financially to afford that kind of buyout. Not to mention, Mizzou athletics is in a hiring freeze right now. 
    I don't think you're going to see many coaches nationwide get fired over the next year or so. Schools are slashing costs left and right because of the pandemic. Coaching changes are incredibly costly, and unless your program is completely circling the drain into obscurity, ADs are going to avoid making major changes. 
    We used to ask you if the Tigers would go 8-4, 7-5, 6-6 or what. Now it looks like, if they play, it will be 10 conference games. So what are we looking at: 7-3? 6-4? 5-5? Worse? Which games are the W's, which are the L's?
    Really hard to say without knowing who would be on that schedule. If it's 10 conference games, that means Mizzou is adding two West Division opponents - or scrapping the SEC schedule altogether and playing more West teams and a few East teams. We don't know who that will be ... or if that will even be the solution. If MU only adds two West teams, the Tigers already play the two West teams widely picked sixth and seventh in the division (Mississippi State and Arkansas). Not much is expected of Mississippi, and if the Rebels become one substitute, the other is going to be a top 20 team: Bama, LSU, Auburn or A&M. 
    That's more challenging than a nonconference slate of BYU, Eastern Michigan, Louisiana-Lafayette and Central Arkansas. 
    There's talk of the SEC, Big 12 and ACC perhaps doing plus-one schedules, where they play their league schedules and add one nonconference game. Maybe Big 12 teams that need one noncon game can find a match in the SEC. Lots of possibilities there. 
    As of right now, when you look at Mizzou's eight conference games, I've got the Tigers going 4-4. Of the other SEC West possibilities, I'd only predict a win over Ole Miss - and maybe not if the game is in Oxford. 
    Tyler Macon has been upgraded to a 4 star recruit, which will help out Mizzou’s recruiting rankings. How would you compare this years recruiting so far to previous years, better or worse, and how well would you compare Drinkz work compared to say Barry Odom?
    OK, we got a version of this question about 17 times last week, so let's answer once and for all this week.
    Cleary, Drinkwitz is off to a great start. The current class ranking - No. 18 by Rivals.com, No. 20 by 247Sports.com and No. 24 by the 247Sports composite - is far better than Mizzou is traditionally ranked this time of year or any time of year. Keep in mind, the rankings are weighed by both the quantity and quality of the commitments. Only a few teams have more commitments than Mizzou's 19. In the SEC, only Florida and Tennessee have more pledges. Here's the substantial difference that's going to ultimately push Mizzou down in these rankings: Using 247Sports star rankings, Tennessee has nine 4-star commitments; Florida has 11; Mizzou has two (Travion Ford, Tyler Macon.) Mizzou doesn't have a lot of room for many more additions, and if the bulk of those pledges are 3-star players, this isn't going to be a top 20 class. That's OK. It still has the makings of a very promising group of recruits. The local goodwill is as strong as it's been in more than a decade because of the success Drinkwitz has had with in-state recruits. That's progress regardless of the rankings. You've got local players picking Mizzou early in the process - before the new guy has coached a game - and they've been outspoken about their enthusiasm for the new staff. So, no matter if this class ends up at No. 35, 25 or 15, he's done a great job selling his vision and getting early investments both in the state and beyond. The staff has quietly found a market in the Indianapolis area. They've gone into Texas, Florida and North Carolina and gotten some players with decent offer lists. They've landed a couple junior college players to address immediate needs. 
    The biggest difference between Drinkwitz's early start and Odom's early start is ... the early start. Drinkwitz got some high-profile local recruits to buy in early. That created some momentum and strengthened their sales pitch. Odom never really had that first-year coach honeymoon phase for recruiting, largely because Mizzou was coming out of 2015 and all the issues that challenged the university and the athletics department at the time. Then, his first season was a four-win flop. That damaged his sales pitch even further and the staff never captured any in-state momentum. 
    What's happening right now - taking the pandemic out of the equation - reminds me of the early recruiting surge Pinkel's staff created after he was hired. He was able to land Damien Nash and a handful of St. Louis recruits who weren't considering Mizzou otherwise. 
    What is the status of the two East St Louis wide receivers Mizo is recruiting? Also who are the remaining targets Mizo are recruiting for the 2021 class. Lastly am I correct Mizz has three four stars committed?
  • Mizo?
    One of the two East St. Louis receivers has already committed elsewhere: Keontez Lewis picked UCLA a few weeks ago. Dominic Lovett is still uncommitted. Until Lewis signs his letter of intent, I'd expect Mizzou to continue recruiting him.
    With 19 commitments for 2021, that leaves only about six spots left. There aren't too many uncommitted local prospects left on the market. Dominic Lovett, the East St. Louis wideout, is a major target. Tobechi Okoli is defensive end from Kansas City still available. Kyran Montgomery, a defensive end from Indianapolis, has Mizzou in his top three, along with Florida State and Minnesota. MU is pursuing a few out-of-state offensive linemen, too.
    Mizzou has two four-star commitments. Defensive end Travion Ford is widely rated a four-star recruit. The second depends on which recruiting site you prefer: Quarterback Tyler Macon is a four-star by 247Sports and defensive back Daylan Carnell is a four-star by Rivals.
    Seems like an Xavier Pinson update doesn't go by without some mention of his odd behavior on social media. What I'm wondering is, what kind of teammate is he? Popular? Background guy? BOisterous? Silent? Can you tell us more about him.?
    It's hardly uncommon for college athletes to seek attention/affirmation on social media. Heck, it's not uncommon for sportwriters to do the same thing. I've lost track of how many times Pinson has posted something cryptic on Instagram that fans/media have interpreted a dozen different ways. Reporters don't have daily access to the players - or any access this time of year - so we're left to interpret what they post on their social media. In some cases, the coaches are doing the same thing. 
    I've always sensed that Pinson is popular with his teammates. They talked about him becoming the vocal leader of the locker room last year. He talked last year about becoming more mature, making better decisions. There's still room to grow there. He's not a troublemaker by any means. I think Columbia is a good place for him. 
    I'm cautious in making too many judgments about players under the current circumstances given the pandemic. College players are without the structure and environment they've gotten used to being on campus and part of their teams. Not all of them have ideal situations at home. 
    Mun Choi, the university president: Is he an athletics booster, or just a highly-paid administrator who tolerates intercollegiate sports because its part of the job?
    He understands the value athletics brings to the university and to the community. He took an active role in the recruitment of Drinkwitz. I wouldn't say he oversteps his role when it comes to athletics, but he's not afraid to use his position to influence change. From what I've been told and have reported, it was the presidents/chancellors office that urged MU to be more proactive with testing athletes before they took part in workouts and more transparent with test results.
    Hi Dave. I thoroughly enjoy your daily column in advance of practice starting. So is next Friday 7/31 the defining date for the SEC to decide if the season starts on time? NHL and NBA have had good results in testing so far. Does this move the needle? Thanks
    There's no drop-dead date that's been announced that will define the SEC season. "Late July" has been what Greg Sankey has talked about in terms of making decisions on the schedules. We could learn more next week, but I suspect the league would start with pushing the calendar back instead of scrapping it altogether. 
    NHL and NBA experiments have been very promising, but they're also operating in a bubble and have had strong leadership at the top when it comes to making decisive decisions for all. That's never been the case in college sports. College sports are hoping to see successful launches by those leagues plus MLB, but they're also operating under far different circumstances. 
    Good morning, Dave.

    Has Mr. Sterk "kicked the can down the road" as you wrote a few weeks back in terms of how the seating is going to be worked out to maintain social distancing? Thoughts on contemplating a spring football season? Not ideal and then there's the media rights issue, but.....

    I am not feeling good about any football this fall. COVID-19 numbers aren't good by any stretch. And there are about I guess 30,000+ students from Mizzou, Columbia College and Stephens College about to descend upon COMO. Not ideal as we're talking parties, parties, bars and more bars which seem to be perfect for community spread of the virus.

    Thoughts?

    Thank you.
  • Mizzou has not announced any plans for seating yet. They have 13 different models that they'll be prepared to adopt based on what the numbers look like come September. For now, MU's baseline plans are at 50-percent capacity and they'll adjust up or down from there. I would think 50-percent capacity (31,000) would be the maximum option given where we are now with all the factors involved. 
    A spring football season invites a lot of hurdles, starting with TV contracts. There's a belief among ADs that the networks would renegotiate their deals because the spring TV windows aren't nearly as valuable as they are in the fall. Then there's this: How do you pull off a spring season, a quick summer turnaround, and then a fall season within a few months? You're going to subject your (unpaid) student athletes to 20-plus games of a violent sport over a six-month span? And what about the NFL prospects who don't want to risk injury so close to the draft? 
    Also, who's to say the virus numbers will be any better after the winter if the rates continue to climb in the fall?
  • Barry Odom was a worse hire than Kim Anderson. Let that sink in.
    I disagree. For one, the pool of available coaches was much better when MU hired Anderson compared the pool of coaches who would have considered the football job when it went to Odom. 
    Two, the Anderson years were historically bad: 27-68.
    Odom was 25-25. Far from great, far from the worst period in team history. 
    Odom worse than Anderson? Clearly, this commenter is too young to remember the '80s.
    Missouri could have given Odom another season and justified the move. I'm not saying it would have been the right move but Sterk could have made the case for a fifth year. Missouri could NOT have given Anderson a fourth year. Most would agree they probably shouldn't have given him a third year based on the first two.
    Hi Dave - I'm jumping on the chat a little late so you may have already addressed my question. That was a nice article on Daniel Parker - he's become an imporant part of the offense. My question is how has Drinkwitz used tight ends in the past? Thank You
    Good question. Last year at App State, his two tight ends combined for only 14 catches. At NC State, he had a tight end, Jaylen Samuels, catch 55 passes in 2016. He was more of a multi-purpose player who was listed as a tight end. (He was only 5-11, 225 pounds and now plays running back for the Steelers.) Otherwise, the next two years, the NC State tight ends weren't really involved in the passing game as receivers. 
    At Boise State, he had a productive tight end who had 30-plus catches each of his two seasons there. 
    I'll be interested to see how he uses the position at Mizzou. In Gus Malzahn's system, the fullback/H-back plays a pivotal role in blocking for the running game. That's the first system that Drinkwitz learned at the college level. 
    Dave - Do you think we are in a better position with our edge rushers this year verses last year? Thank You
    It's essentially the same guys who are a year older. Chris Turner, Tre Williams and Jatorian Hansford. One big difference is Williams is healthy. He had a shoulder injury last season and, I believe, an ankle injury that slowed him down. I talked to him back in the spring and he said he felt like a new player and had rediscovered his burst off the line. We'll see if it makes a difference. Sci Martin, the junior college transfer who began his career at LSU, was expected to push for a role last year but that never happened. Z'Core Brooks redshirted last year and could be a young player to watch. Mizzou managed to have one of the nation's best pass defenses last year without having a very dynamic pass rush or a high number of sacks. If those rushers can at least be disruptive and consistently get pressure without necessarily taking down the QB, they can still be effective on the edge.
    Dave - With not have a spring season and the team's new offense, do you think that there is more of a chance that we start off with two quarterbacks sharing the duties? In some regards I hope so until we get a handle on who should be the team's number one. Thank You.
  • I don't think share is the right word. Coaches don't like splitting snaps with QBs. Ideally they'll settle on one starter but then maybe have other plays for other QBs to mix things up. Drinkwitz has mentioned using Micah Wilson and Jalen Knox as "wildcat" QBs. As you alluded to, when you don't have a full offseason for quarterbacks and receivers to work together within the confines of the offense, one possible shortcut is calling more designed QB runs with other playmakers in the backfield. Drinkwitz is known for using a full bag of tricks. Don't put it past him to think outside the box to move the chains.
    Tyler Badie: Star in the making, or just an OK-to-pretty good player?
    I think his ceiling is a really good sidekick in a potent running game. He's a back who can do everything from running the ball, catching passes and pass-blocking. He was Mizzou's No. 1 receiver last year, which is not the sign of a healthy passing game in MU's case, but it showed what's capable of doing. I'm not sure he's a 20-carry-a-game SEC running back, but he can carry the load for stretches. Most teams prefer a 1-2 punch at the position - and he's been an above-average No. 2. The Derrick Henrys of the world are hard to find.
    Dave - Did Kelly Bryant get signed? Thank You
    OK, chatters. Looks like you're out of questions. We'll keep bringing you daily football preview stories through the start of preseason camp next month. Keep reading and we'll keep writing. We'll chat again next week.
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