OK, time for your questions.
I wouldn't say it's off to a slow start necessarily. Lots of high-profile targets in this class, and high-profile targets typically don't commit somewhere early. Foster has indicated that he wants to be the ringleader of this class and recruit more recruits to join him, so we'll see if that happens over the next few months.
Nobody knows how the incoming D-linemen are going to pan out. I've seen some junior college transfers who had great credentials and looked like instant starters - until they got to campus and couldn't play at this level. There's also no guarantee all of these guys will qualify. If they all show up and earn places in the rotation could that hurt MU's chances with some 2018 targets? Possibly. But it seems like a calculated risk. I think you'd rather have some established depth then be desperate for reinforcements.
The schools aren't going to be the ones updating reporters on the visits. The family might, but not necessarily. The Knox family is engaging this process in a very calculated, thorough, analytical way. If they want to tell the world what they thought of the five visits, they'll make sure the world is told.
Martin's staff really likes Mark Smith, but he's been connected to other schools more so in recent days by local and some national reports.
You're not going to see many credible writers/media people picking a team that just finished 4-8 - with a loss to Middle Tennessee - to make a drastic improvement. I'm not convinced that Missouri's defense is going to be significantly better, and I think it has to be significantly better for Missouri to compete for the SEC East. This team will move the ball and put up yards. Can it avoid turnovers? Can it score touchdowns? Can it kick FGs when drives stall in the red zone? Can this defense tackle, cover and rush the passer? I'm not sure of any of those things. I'm leaning toward a 6-6 record. I understand other writers/media not being that optimistic. The worst defense in the SEC is losing two All-SEC players without many proven players left on that side of the ball. For me, that's the beauty of Week 1. All the preseason analysis and projections get buried by actual results.
Not really. Kentucky signs multiple McDonald's All-Americans every year and doesn't win the SEC or make the Final Four every year. If Missouri gets those two guys, Cuonzo's first team will be in the hunt for the SEC and have a nice mix of really talented young guys and older, more established role players, but I'd pump the brakes on the FF talk.
Well, here's the thing with Cross: The defense is Odom's and Odom will be the play-caller. If you're not impressed with the defense this year, it's Odom's defense that will disappoint you - not Cross's defense. Yes, he's the coordinator, and coordinators have tasks outside of play-calling, but make no mistake, the 2017 defense will have Odom's fingerprints on it more than any other coach.
Odom is more concerned with what USA Wrestling would have to say about Cox playing football. I'll be surprised if he suits up and plays for the Tigers - unless it's something he truly wants to do. Cox was an all-state linebacker in high school. That's a difficult position to learn at this level. Is Cox going to eclipse experienced players whom the staff recruited to play linebacker at Mizzou? Unlikely. Maybe he can play special teams, but even that would require a lot of hours of practice and make him vulnerable to a serious injury. It'll be a great story in camp if he comes out for the team, but I'll be surprised if it all comes together.
If they win fewer than six games this year, he'll be under some pressure entering 2018. I said this countless times during Kim Anderson's tenure, but you just rarely see a coach get less than three years - unless there's a scandal or violations or something beyond the scope of wins and losses.
I'll have my educated guesses at the projected depth on the blog tomorrow. As for the D-line, Mizzou started Logan and Brandon as starters in the B&G Game. Beckner will be a starter once he's healthy. Tyrell Jacobs and Markell Utsey are the only other scholarship D-tackles currently on the roster. Coming in this summer are juco DTs Malik Young and Walter Palmore and high school DTs Caleb Sampson, Kobie Whiteside and now Akial Byers. At D-end, Mizzou adds juco Mark Anderson and high school recruit Chris Turner. On the current depth you've got Marcell Frazier, Nate Howard, Tre Williams and Jordan Harold.
OK, but being worried about not making the tournament with a talented team probably beats knowing you won't make it, right? College teams don't really "maul" anyone down low anymore. The game has changed. You can win with a smaller lineup, and Mizzou's going to have some talented guards to surround some of the established players like Barnett and Puryear, who bring some versatility for matchups. I'm not promising a Final Four, but Porter's presence will make this team much, much better. Players widely considered the No. 1 high school recruit rarely, if ever, become recruiting busts. And MPJ is widely considered the best to come through the HS game in a long time. The top high school prospects get scrutinized and analyzed so much more now than in any other era - and produce a far wider and deeper body of work than the top football recruits.
Nice try. It's like that time my wife said, "I know you hate mayonnaise, but are you OK with mayonnaise sandwiches with extra mayo for dinner?" (She never said that.)
It's possible. Allen will command more touches and shots, as will incoming freshman Gary Trent Jr. If the Knox family weren't counting on Allen being back next year when they were calculating playing time/shots/points, etc., Allen's return to school would change the formula. Or on the other hand, they might prefer he have another talented, proven player on the roster who will help Knox's game. Hard to say how they're computing all these factors.
I'll give the same answer I give when people talk about hoops starting lineups: They change from game to game, from week to week - and especially from November to March. In that scenario, maybe Jontay doesn't start against Iowa State in November but he might in February against South Carolina. Either way, he'd be part of forward rotation.
Fast start against light part of the schedule. Defense has been pretty shoddy. Offense inconsistent but recently good power hitting from Harris and Bond. Houck has been good but not great. Isn't getting much run support of defensive support. Back end of the bullpen is lights out between Sikkema and Bartlett, but they can usually only pitch once a weekend because they pitch multi-inning outings. Bottom line, Mizzou looks like an NCAA bubble team. RPI is in the 50s. Every SEC opponent on the schedule has a higher RPI, so Tigers need to start winning to make an NCAA regional. Can't be swept and need to win a series or two to stay close to .500 in the league. Only one current player came with Bieser, and there's hardly any seniors on this team. Not taking the easy way out but if this team wants to become a contender in the SEC and make regular NCAA appearances they need an upgrade in all areas: hitting, pitching and defense.
Agreed, they struggled in road games at LSU and Florida, but a 12-game body of work is still a 12-game body of work. Their numbers got skewed in one direction with the two blowout wins and then got skewed the other direction with the LSU and Florida games. (Florida and LSU had top-10 defenses last year.) So if you wipe those four outliers out of the equation, you've still got eight games and by season's end MU still led the SEC in yards per game and showed drastic improvement in every area from the year before. Georgia and Vandy were in the next tier of defenses behind Bama, LSU and Florida last year, and MU moved the ball against both. I buy into the expectations because of a few key factors: Crockett was BETTER against SEC competition than nonconference competition. And an experienced O-line is a good indicator of a strong O-line, especially if it's a good O-line, which Missouri's was last year according to standard stats and the advanced metrics.
He would like to be, but he's got to produce to make that come true.