Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

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

  • Hello, Mizzou chatters. Thanks for coming back for another edition, the final chat before it's officially game week for the college football season. It's a busy day on the beat. The SEC releases the men's hoops schedule at 1 p.m. Then MU football has its last open practice of the preseason at 3:30. But first, I'll take your questions for the next two hours.
  • Seems like the analysis/predictions for the MIZZOU football season go from 4-8 up to as much as 8-4. Kirk Herbstreit indicated in his "Herbies" that Mizzou will be one of the 5 schools to surprise this year. There seems to be quite a few toss ups this year but I'd like to hear what you think Mizzou's highwater mark is this year. Thanks for the chat Dave...I and I'd venture to say All of us appreciate it!
  • My game-by-game predictions will be posted at STLtoday.com within the next few days, so I don't want to leak any spoilers. This season has a ton of toss-up games that are hard to predict in late August. So much hinges on the Missouri defense. The offense has so much upside. It can be the very best in the SEC. It could also be like last year and put up a lot of yards without many meaningful touchdowns. But I think this team can average 30 points a game in conference play, which would be a big improvement from last year, when it averaged 22. Can the Tigers win eight, nine games in the regular season? Sure, if the defense creates turnovers and tackles well enough to get off the field on third downs. I'm not sure this will be a top-tier defense in the league. That's a lot to ask after what we saw from that unit last year, even though the staff and the personnel have undergone a lot of changes. If the Tigers can't stop anybody (again), a five-win season is possible. But I think the offense will score enough points to make just about every game competitive. This could be the kind of team that has to win games 45-41.
  • Football ?: What are the key differences you are picking up on between this year's team and last year's at this point
  • In some ways it's not really fair to measure the two teams from my perspective ... yet. Last year I had a 12-game body of work to analyze. This year, I've had pre-game stretches and position drills against air. However, there are some noticeable differences: This defense sounds invested in the scheme and the staff. Having a new D-line coach who has made an effort to know his players on a personal level seems to have made a major difference. There's more depth at D-tackle and more young, unproven talent that's hungry to perform. There's more experience at safety and enough versatility in that position group and the outside linebackers to form more sub packages. Odom said the other day one mistake he made last year was not giving the 2s and 3s more reps in camp. He's done that this year and believes both units are better for it. I expect more players to see the field. That's a positive. Offensively, there's legit competition along the O-line, which ideally brings out the best in the players fighting for jobs. Lock is more in-sync with his receivers. There's more depth and experience at tailback.
  • I spent yesterday in Springfield visiting with Dave Steckel, Missouri State staffers Munir Prince and Kenji Jackson, both former Mizzou players, and a couple Bears players from the St. Louis area. We had a Stec story in today's paper and will have more from the former MU coordinator online tomorrow. Lots of colorful insight, as usual. I'm never wild about the FBS-FCS matchups, but I'm glad in this case Missouri is playing a state school, which means so much to the community in Springfield, the MSU alums and the players on the roster who get to play on the state's biggest college football stage for three hours.
  • How likely does the Holmes injury make it Mizzou misses a bowl?
  • It's not a make or break injury for this team. He most likely wasn't going to start, at least not to begin the season. Logan Cheadle's had a good offseason. The staff has liked the progress of Jerod Alton and Finis Stribling. It hurts the depth not having a young corner they expected to play, but it's not going to ruin the season.
  • Dave,Im curious about something..I know this isn't really important in the grand scheme of things..But as far as Mizzou's bball recruiting class,why do you and Fred both have Blake Harris a 4 star and C.J. roberts a 3? I've seen it both of your articles..But the truth is,in the Rivals top 150,Roberts is actually ranked #108 and Harris is #136!How is that..I just see it as a slant to Rocerts because he isnt technically a Martin recruit..When in truth,he actually is because he did somewhat decommit after Anderson resigned and than recommited after Meeting Martin! Just bugs me that all! LOL!
  • It's  not a slant at anyone, trust me. Why would I write something inaccurate to take a swipe at a teenager? I don't always use the Rivals rankings. When in doubt, I lean on the 247Sports composite, which factors in all the major recruiting sites' rankings. The composite rankings has Harris as a 4-star, ranked No. 123 nationally. They have Roberts a three-star, ranked No. 175 nationally.
  • I don't understand how so many "experts" are picking mizzou to go 0-8 in SEC play... They won more than that last year and they are clearly better on paper this year, so how on earth do they have us going 0-8? Must be the same people who still think Mizzou doesn't belong in the SEC
  • How many experts are actually picking 0-8? And how do we know Mizzou's defense is going to be better? A year ago this time most figured it would be the strength of the team. Instead, it was the worst defense in the SEC. Now, after losing a first-round pick and four other players currently on NFL training camp rosters, including a first-team All-SEC corner, I'm not sold that it's a given the defense will be considerably better. There's always a chance this defense just doesn't have the impact difference-makers you need in this league to compete for division titles. Offensively, again, Mizzou put up a lot of empty yards last year. I expect that group to play better this year, but it's never a guarantee. I understand some of the skepticism nationally and around the conference. Mizzou outplayed just two SEC teams last year: Arkansas and Vandy. Both of those games are on the road this fall. There's not a game on the SEC slate where I can comfortably say, yeah, Mizzou wins that game, no doubt.
  • All of the so called media experts have picked Mizzou in the bottom of the SEC East. If my memory serves me correctly didn't most of these same nimrods pick Mizzou to fail in their second and third years of SEC play? I guess you don't have to be exceptionally bright to be a media expert, just follow the media line. I think if the defense learns how to tackle decently 9 wins is not out of the question. Your thoughts Dave.
  • I'll say this much for SEC preseason polls: Mizzou has actually finished lower in the East than it was picked more often than it's finished higher than it was picked. The Tigers finished lower than the poll predicted in 2012, 2015 and 2016 and higher than 2013 and 2014. In 2015, the media really overrated Mizzou. In the preseason poll, MU was picked third behind in the East behind Georgia and Tennessee, who began that season ranked No. 9 and 25 in the AP poll. (MU was picked No. 24). And we know how that season went for the Tigers.
  • I heard coach Odom has decided to ease up on the intensity of his practices. With the hope that it will keep his players healthier and more rested. He felt he pushed them too hard last year. Is this going to benefit them more in the long run? Will they be as good at tackling without the more tough practices? The tackling wasn't good last year, I hope it doesn't get worse.
  • I'm not sure "eased up" is the right way to phrase it. They're getting as much if not more reps this camp but Odom adjusted the schedule so they can recover better from one day to the next. They've added new tackling drills to simulate the techniques and fundamentals that were so bad last year - without putting players' bodies at risk for injuries. In years past we had long injury lists to report every day. That's not really the case these days. College football players don't tackle any more in practice. The only live tackling takes place in scrimmages. These guys have it easy compared to just five, 10 years ago when teams had two-a-days most days and full-contact drills almost every day.
  • Certainly not hoping for this, because I like him, but if Mizzou were to go 0-8 in conference and finish 3-9 or 4-8... Odom has to get fired, right? I know Sterk is a fan and he has one year left on his deal, but that would be a disaster
  • If this season craters and it becomes obvious that coaching and recruiting are the main culprits, then sure, Sterk could have a decision to make. This is what I love about college football. Other than a few elite teams and a few awful programs, we really have no idea what's about to unfold over the next 14 weeks. We've got fans in this chat expecting nine, 10 wins ... and others pondering 0-8 and Odom getting fired.
  • With the recent loss at cornerback. Will anyone be moving from say safety or some other position to provide more depth at an already weak or inexperienced position of CB?
  • Don't think so. Again, Holmes wasn't going to start Sept. 2. Jerod Alton, Finis Stribling and Adam Sparks will get chances to step in and provide depth. If they needed to make a move, Anthony Hines has played corner and could probably move from the logjam at safety, but I'm not sure that move makes this team better. Injuries could always change plans.
  • Thoughts on the season so far? Any big deaths for the finale? I'm going with Bran being the Knight King in some weird GOT way and Varys getting axed in the finale.
  • There were a few far-fetched happenings in Sunday's episode, but I don't go into that show expecting a documentary. I mean, we're talking about zombies and dragons. I'm cool with suspending reality a bit to carry the story along. I want a Tormund-Hound spin-off where they open a business. I want a double wedding for Tormund-Brienne and Jon-Dany. I don't care if she's his aunt. I want Jaime to come to his senses and side with his brother. I want a major plot twist. I want more time traveling with Bran, even if he's the Night King.
  • I can't believe the dis-respect Mizzou is getting from the media. I know they are basing it off of last year, but virtually everyone has us picked 13th or 14th in conference. I can't wait to say I told you so!
  • Yes, actual football will be played in nine days.
  • DT Kobie Whiteside is intriguing with his strength as a true freshman as I think CBO said he was strongest on the team and a KC Star article spoke about that some more. He is listed as 6'1". Does height matter for DTs? Is he undersized in that aspect?
  • He's definitely on the short side - and I'd say that 6-1 might be generous. But you can be short at that position and still be effective. Low man wins. I remember Michael Gavins from the Larry Smith years. A 6-8 D-tackle. He couldn't play at all inside, got pushed around by shorter, stronger, more compact O-linemen. Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins, probably the two best DTs in the NFL, are both 6-1. 
    All that said, I'm not sure Whitesides plays this year. Right now, the DT depth includes Beckner, Utsey, Logan, Palmore and Brandon. If you want a sixth guy, Whiteside is next in line. He's not one of the freshmen Odom has mentioned as definitely playing this year. We'll see. 
  • Can you update which freshmen football players seem to be locks to play this fall? And which ones are on the bubble to play?
  • Locks: RB Rountree, CB Sparks, LB Brooks, S Ulmer
    Likely: DE Turner, OLB Bledsoe, OLB Miller
    Possible: DT Whitesides, DE Byers, S Gillespie
    Almost certainly redshirting unless injuries pile up: OL Borom, OL White, OL Cook, RB Miller, CB Petry, QB Powell, DT Sampson
    Injured: TE Christopherson, OL Coleman
  • Considering the game vs. Missouri St. will probably be a blowout, what will you be focusing on? Is there anything we can learn about Mizzou from this game?
  • I have to write about the game, so there really aren't any parts I won't focus on. I'm curious to see how the rotations work on defense and at running back and receiver. I'll be interested to see how this defense tackles in space.
  • Can you update on freshmen TE Christopherson - injured and likely to redshirt now? TE seems like a deep position on this year's team. Sounds like he was in line to play this year, but do you think he broke into the upper TE depth or needed more for special teams?
  • He had ankle surgery for a high sprain and will most likely miss the season. He's out of uniform at practice while undergoing rehab. He was in line to play with a couple roles on special teams, but I don't think there's a great need for a fifth tight end as long as the top four older guys stay healthy.
  • Will Mizzou footballs defense finish statistically better or worse than last years team?
  • In what statistic? There are only a few spots to sink in a few categories. I'm generally an optimist, and I think the staff and scheme changes Odom made will give this defense a chance to be better. But I couldn't tell you how much better. So many unknowns at play.
  • I have heard many football media analyst say that Mizzou will not be better if Heupel doesn't slow down the offense and have more sustainable/longer drives, so the defense can get a blow on the sidelines before going right back onto the field. Is there any chance Heupel slows down the offense in comparison to last year?
  • That's not the plan. Odom doesn't believe the offense has to slow down considerably, so I don't think it's a major concern. There are times when the offense can afford to milk more time off the clock, and we saw that more late last season and suspect we'll see it again if Mizzou gets out to any big leads in the second half of games. But good defenses are able to get rest by (1) getting off the field after third down (2) creating turnovers (3) having depth. Mizzou's tempo was just as fast if not faster in 2007, and that defense did its job by getting off the field with stops and takeaways.
  • Dave - Looking at this years football team, I think we can all agree that the defense is a question mark. Although we hear of certain players have good camps, we still don't know who will step up and how well the line, linebackers and d-backs will perform. However, on offense, I still believe we still don't know how well the receivers will play especially J Mon Moore. Will they all of the sudden start catching the ball. I know that Lock needs to work on his accuracy, but many balls were dropped that should have been caught last year. With that said, who do you see stepping up at the receiver position if our starters don't make the plays they need to make? Also, who is that third back behind Crockett and Witter that you see as a contributor? Barry Odom has indicated that Larry Roundtree will not be red shirted. But is it him, Strong or someone else as that third back? By the way, thanks for all you do. I really enjoy your columns.
  • Larry Rountree will get carries. I'd be shocked if he's not the No. 3 back. And he could have a larger role by midseason if he produces. So, let's all go over this before he turns into the next Chase Daniels. There is no D in Rountree. I know it's temping to stick it in there, but no D. 
    At receiver, the staff is head over heels with the way Johnathon Johnson has played. I think you'll see this passing game flow from inside out this year, with the slot receivers (Johnson & Richaud Floyd) and the tight ends as more primary reads, opposed to last year when Lock looked to his outside targets first and foremost. 
  • Is this season going be a tribute to the 2007-2008 seasons where we scored 40 ppg and gave up 30 ppg?
  • Well, it beats the alternative, right?
  • Dave, other than Rountree freshmen that Odom hints that will play are 3 areas that were troubling spots for Mizzou last year. 2 safeties(Blesoe & Ulmer), 2 cornerbacks(Petry & Sparks, & 2 linebackers(Brooks &miller). Does this have more to do with Mizzou's lack of talent at those positions and what evidence do you have the play will be better this year compared to last.
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