Hello, chatters. Good to be with you for another Mizzou Chat. We'll do this for a couple hours. Lots to discuss with football camp about to kick off in less than two weeks.
Can we let them play a game first? Or, at the very least, let me watch a practice before I know that much about the newcomers? I know the Internet is alive with dozens of experts who can write all day and night about the team that's taking shape in Columbia, but I like to see humans with my own eyeballs before I can profess to know enough to write something credible. There's only so much you can extrapolate from stats and recruiting rankings. I think it's safe to say Michael Porter will be the most talented player on this team. But without actually watching and learning, it's hard to say if Blake Harris is 10 percent better or 10 percent worse than Terrence Phillips. The newcomers always have more upside in these discussions because they're new and unseen and untested. We already have our preconceived opinions about the returning players based on the sample sizes we've seen, but I'd like to see more from the returning players in a new system and surrounded by new talent and depth. Kevin Puryear will still be an effective player. Same for Jordan Barnett and Terrence Phillips. I'm not sure what to expect from Jeremiah Tilmon his freshman year. Big body, can run the floor and protect the rim some. But does he have any range on offense? Can he play post defense? So much still to learn about these guys, which for me is the interesting part.
Kaleb Prewett was the closest thing to that player during the spring. He can play SAM linebacker or nickelback, so I expect to see him on the field in multiple packages. Brothers was an outstanding WILL linebacker. He played in the box alongside the MIKE and made a ton of stops. Beisel and Garrett are the top options at the MIKE - better point of attack pluggers than sideline-to-sideline runners. Terez Hall is the leading candidate to start at the WILL. Is he a difference-maker in the box? A sure tackler who can reliably stop the ball from breaking outside and into the secondary? That's going to be his challenge. There will be other candidates, but he's been the No. 1 option since the end of last season.
I don't like to think ahead too much when it comes to GOT. My only complaint about the first episode was the Ed Sheeran scene. First of all, he's too famous to suddenly appear as a believable character on that show, even in a cameo. Two, Lannister soldiers wouldn't befriend a young and alone female. For the first six seasons soldiers, especially from that family, have been portrayed as murderous, pillagers who would never cheerfully share their blackberry wine with a girl who randomly shows up on a horse. That was lame. Otherwise, a typically great set-the-stage kind of opener. (I sided with Sansa in her tiff with Jon. The Umbers captured and sold Rickon to Ramsey. I wouldn't have given them their castle back so easily. Though Sansa's tact was a little petulant.)
I'm not convinced MU will be favored at Vandy, unless MU has a great start to the season and Vandy really struggles. I see South Carolina as a pick'em. I like the progress Kentucky has made. I picked South Carolina third in the East and Kentucky fourth, but I could have easily reversed those. Mizzou has lost two in a row to UK and wasn't all that competitive last year.
Sony Michel is a much more familiar name than Crockett and has been around the league longer. Plus, we have to remember who is doing the voting. Here were the Missouri outlets that were in attendance in Hoover: Post-Dispatch, KC Star, Columbia Tribune, PowerMizzou, Columbia TV station KMIZ and St. Louis radio station KTRS. That's it. Plus, not everyone who attends SEC media days fills out a ballot. That's not to say reporters who cover Mizzou vote for Mizzou players, but I'm far more familiar with Crockett than someone who covers Auburn or South Carolina or Florida. And to be honest, a lot of these voters don't do much research. They look at last year's stats and that's probably it. Even if they did, Crockett was sixth in the league in yards per game, fifth among running backs. Three ahead of him are back this year. It's not like he was far and away one of the two best backs in the SEC. I voted him first team but would have no issue with Pettway, Guice, Chubb or one of the top Bama backs.
Back to HBO for a second. If you haven't watched "The Defiant Ones" check it out. Great four-part doc. Great music, great archive footage.
I get this question about once a month. For one, the Big 12 didn't have men's soccer and neither does the SEC. If you care about Mizzou football having all the resources it needs to compete in the SEC - and MU has far fewer than just about every other program - then the last thing the school needs is another program that uses football revenue to pay for its costs. Men's college soccer just isn't a big deal at the major conference level in the Midwest/Southeast outside of some Big Ten schools.
Shhhhhh. Tennessee fans will call you every vile name in the book if you point out their underachieving program. I voted the Vols sixth in the East, probably lower than just about every voter, but I truly believe they missed their window last year. They needed a Hail Mary against Georgia to avoid being 3-5 in the SEC. And the schedule only gets harder this year with cross-division games against Bama and LSU. Jones continues to recruit well, and injuries depleted their depth last year, but I'm just not sold. He's had a chance to capitalize on Georgia and Florida being less than elite, and while back to back nine-win seasons are nice, that should be disappointing by Tennessee standards. Coaches at programs with resources like Tennessee shouldn't spend so much time talking about how depleted the place was when he arrived. That reasoning works at places like Missouri or Kentucky or Ole Miss, but not Tennessee or Michigan or Texas or Southern Cal, where the brand and recruiting territory is good enough to rebuild quickly.
I tried getting an interview with him last year and it never happened. I've sort of given up on him. I was hoping for a Brick Haley story this summer and expected that to happen but it never did. Camp will be here soon enough for coverage.
I don't think he's that polished. He didn't exactly stand out at the Peach Jam last week. He's very young. He needs to develop his body and focus on the skills that are going to set him apart at the next level. I've had people close to him already reaching for the brake pedal to slow down the talk that he's going to dominate in college as a freshman. He's got great upside but needs time to develop.
There are a few of the in-state guys they will take regardless what the class looks like come December or February: Babb, Thompson and Perkins. But at some point Mizzou needs to fill holes in the class, and if Odom and staff don't feel good about one of the undecided local recruits, they'll have to find players who want to play at MU. These coaches have a better feel for where things stand than any of us in the media or the fan base. There are backup plans and backups to the backups. By the first week of February Odom will have a recruiting class. There might not be many (any?) local players signed, but they'll have other options identified. It might have been a misstep to set the bar so high with the Tiger Ten, but at no point did the staff expect to sign them all and ignore other options from other regions of the country.
Jontay has not reclassified officially.
He had productive games against South Carolina and Arkansas. He really didn't have any tough talk until the week leading up to the Arkansas game, so I'm not sure he had anything to back up until the Hogs game - and he certainly had the last laugh in that game. Like Odom said last week, when Mizzou plays a spread team that's going to throw the ball 40 times a game, his stat line isn't going to look all that impressive. He's a MIKE linebacker who occasionally has to cover a back or tight end downfield but will mostly stay in the box and trade helmet paint with backs and blockers. For a guy who didn't have a lot of game snaps before Scherer got hurt, I thought he looked the part and played well down the stretch last year.
Pretty early to know at this point. He went from zero offers to close to 20 in a couple days this week. I would think Martin will make him a priority because (A) he plays the position the staff needs to address for 2018 and (B) he's a local kid and Martin has said he wants to lock up the in-state targets.
Missouri and Illinois have had discussions about bringing the football game back to St. Louis. The game was a big success locally and for Mizzou when they played during the Pinkel years. KC got a Mizzou game in 2015 and gets another one in a few years against Boston College as part of the school's agreement to have a presence in the market. (It all goes back to the KC Board of Curators wanting something in return for agreeing to make the SEC move.) I don't see any end to the Braggin Rights Game in St. Louis. I expect a sellout this year with both schools re-energizing their fan bases with new hires.
It could, but the league should still be concerned about the perception that it's Bama and its 13 little friends. Will someone else win double-digit games and come close to being in the playoff mix? I'm not convinced there's an East team ready to make that jump. Will Auburn have that kind of season? Maybe. Maybe LSU. Otherwise, I don't see the league producing an obvious top-15 caliber team. As for QB play, there's a lot to like about the group in the league right now: Hurts, Fitzgerald, Allen, Lock, Eason, Stidham, etc. But I'm not sure there's a national star among them. For someone to emerge from that group as an All-American type, his team will have to become nationally relevant - like Johnny Football at A&M in 2012-13 and Prescott at Mississippi State in 2014-15.
He won't be the only player to handle the ball and get point guard minutes, and he proved last year he can play off the ball with another player bringing the ball up. He's going to play a lot of minutes, and I'm not sure there's anyone to legitimately challenge him for the starting job when the season begins. Remember, Blake Harris has been recovering from wrist surgery. I don't see him coming in and unseating a two-year starter.
Matter, Palmer, DeArmond, Jones and Gervino
Oh, you meant basketball? I guess Phillips, Robertson, Porter, Puryear and Tilmon. Maybe Barnett. Maybe Nikko. Hard to say without having seen a practice or scrimmage. I'm not all that interested in who starts. How they play together is the bigger story.
Prewett can play nickel in a 4-2-5 look or SAM in a traditional 4-3. It's essentially the same role Donavin Newsom played the last two years, though Prewett is a natural safety, so he might be a better fit in coverage. Odom plans to use more sub packages this year with a wider mix of personnel than he was able to do last year. I think you'll see a variety of combinations in the back end.
It's his job to lose. The staff liked how he kicked in the spring, but obviously nothing counts until Sept. 2. I'm skeptical. He could barely make a PAT last year. It should be a huge concern that could impact play-calling all season long.