Greetings, chatters. Welcome to another Mizzou Chat. I've got to check out a little earlier today for Cuonzo Martin's 1 pm press conference to get some updates on summer workouts. If you haven't read, preseason football camp gets started next Tuesday. About half the practices are open to the media, so expect full coverage here at STLtoday.com and in the print section for the next month. I'll take your questions for the next 90 minutes.
Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Arkansas. I like Auburn as a fringe top 10 team. Georgia has more upside in terms of talent than any team in the East - and the game's in Athens. Florida is still the two-time defending East champs until someone knocks them off. I don't think Arkansas will be all that good this season, but it's a revenge game and it's on the road.
Can they? Sure. If the defense is back to being in the top half of the SEC and top 30 nationally ... if the offense lives up to its promise and can score at will against most teams ... if the kicking game is more reliable ... if Odom does a better job managing games, delegating responsibilities and having his team ready to play .... then, yes, this team has a lot of potential. The schedule isn't easy but it's manageable. There are only three teams on the schedule that should be ranked in the preseason top 25 (Georgia, Auburn, Florida) but lots of toss-up games against SEC teams that expect to be better this fall: namely South Carolina, Kentucky and Vandy.
I'm not sold on the defense or kicking game yet. Those units have to be significantly better for this team to start dreaming about winning eight or nine games. The offense should be among the best in the SEC. No excuse for this team not to average 32-37 points a game with all the experience and firepower that returns. To reach six or seven wins Mizzou will have to win some SEC road games (Vandy, Kentucky) or beat some SEC teams at home that most figure will be better than MU this year (Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina). Is it all possible? Sure, but we have to see some performances from certain players and position groups that we haven't seen at this point in their careers.
My guess is Mizzou's class will finish where it always finish, somewhere between 35-50 in the national rankings. Mizzou is piling up the commitments this week but all but one have been three-star players - and you don't climb into the top 25 or the top half of the SEC with a class full of 3-star recruits. That's sobering news if you measure your team on recruiting rankings alone, but if the staff does its job in terms of evaluation and development (like Gary Pinkel's staff did for the bulk of its 15 years) then Odom's staff can outperform the rankings and produce winning teams. That's easier said than done. As for the Tiger Ten, I've never been one to make recruiting predictions. Mizzou is still in good shape with Michael Thompson Jr. and isn't out of the running for Perkins, Babb or Trout. What are they waiting on? Why do they have to decide now? Signing day is in February. If they want to be wined and dined on official visits there's no sense committing somewhere now because visits can't start until the fall. Missouri will sign a full class with or without the in-state kids. I think Odom's staff has proven its ability to recruit kids from Texas and now Alabama.
I would suggest asking someone at ESPN.
I don't think Missouri is heavily recruiting him, so I would guess no.
I don't think there's one guy who will consistently be that No. 2 option. Could be Puryear on some nights. Could be Robertson. Could be Barnett. I think we have to see this team play together before really having any sense on how the rotations will work and how the shots will be distributed. Good question, though.
There are limits on how many can leave campus to recruit: Three assistants in hoops and nine in football. Football teams may have four grad assistants and five strength staffers but the rules allow for any number of analysts, quality control coaches, recruiting assistants, etc. Some coaches and administrators want to see the NCAA cap the number of staffers a team can have because the schools that can afford the manpower continue to build these monstrously sized staffs. Nick Saban has been the trendsetter here with his massive Alabama staff.
Keep in mind, for every two- or three-star recruit that made it big under Pinkel, there was usually two or at least one who never saw the field or washed out of the program. It's never automatic that the under-the-radar prospect is going to pan out. And it's not like Mizzou didn't want the four- and five-star players. There just aren't many of those in the state of Missouri most years and Mizzou can't pull those away from more established programs when it comes to out-of-state recruits. I'm not sure Odom's evaluation process is as meticulous or staff-oriented as it was under Pinkel. Under Pinkel, the staff voted and discussed every prospect before offering a scholarship. I've gotten the impression that it's less of a staff-wide process under Odom, for better or worse. We'll know in a few years.
I'll believe when I see it because Odom, Heupel and the players said we'd see a ton of pre-snap shifts and motions last year - and they never did it. Some of the talk was a smokescreen, I suspected at the time. Maybe they'll try more of it this year with Lock being a year older and more ingrained in the system.
I think some fans care more about the latter than the former. That said, I doubt Mizzou creeps into the top 25. That's hard to do with mostly three-star recruits. Obviously the next dozen could be four and five-star guys, but that's not the way things are trending.
Actually, it's not that unusual to have just one secondary coach. Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas A&M have just one assistant coach assigned to the entire secondary. That's everyone in the SEC except Mississippi State and Vandy have separate coaches for corners and safeties. Walters will have four players on the field to coach at once, same as the D-line coach, one less than the O-line coach. It's a manageable situation.
There are different ways to measure stability for athletics. Fundraising is one, and that's on the upswing under Sterk. There's new leadership across the board on campus and within the university system, but new bosses doesn't guarantee stability. It's going to take some time to see how Mizzou handles crisis management when the you know what hits the fan. That's usually the best opportunity to measure stability.
I like Florida State as a playoff team, but hard to go against Saban in a big game, especially early in the season. Bama should be unstoppable on offense with all the weapons they return.
I didn't talk to the two STL guys at Night at the Zou. They essentially stood on the sideline and talked to the coaches and some current players. Not a whole lot for them to say. Frankly, I'm not all that interested in what recruits have to say until they make a decision about where they're playing. The recruiting process up until the decision isn't all that interesting. They all say the same things about the schools they're considering.
Missouri just landed its first in-state HS commit: Blue Springs lineman Daniel Parker Jr.
Well, the defense was top 10 in the nation in 2015 without Steckel, so we can rule out that theory. The buy-in among some D-linemen wasn't good. They didn't like the new scheme and you could tell they weren't buying into the new coaches. And we're talking veteran players here. (Even though if those guys are lucky enough to make it in the NFL they're going to be required to read and react to offensive formations.) Poor play up front led to a lot of tackle opportunities at the second and third level and the tackling was horrid, especially at the safety position. Mizzou never quite developed a second physical inside linebacker to pair with Scherer and then Beisel when he replaced Scherer. The lack of a pass rush put a lot of stress on the corners, and even though Penton and Gibson made their share of plays on the ball, they were limited physically against the bigger and stronger outside receivers in the SEC. Overall, it was just a mess from the start.
I'd say the safeties and the inside linebackers. Mizzou has to be stronger up the middle.
Hard to say. Is Beckner completely healthy? Will the juco D-tackles show up and contribute? Will Frazier handle being the No. 1 threat for the opponent's blocking scheme? Will another D-end develop on the other side?