Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

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

    I have a hard time believing that the whole MU coaching staff somehow became really stupid in just a few short weeks. I've actually thought Odom has done a good job hiring good qualified people with plenty of years of coaching experience at other schools before they came to MU. Despite whatever has gone wrong these last 3 games, I still for instance like Dooley, can't believe this is all his fault, and would hate for him to be made the scapegoat at season's end should Odom stay but is told he has to fire somebody.
    One person I am concerned with is Andy Hill. As much as I love the guy and all he's done for the program, is it time to consider that he simply is not a good special-teams coach and Odom needs to hire someone who is?

    And maybe this is a ridiculous question to ask Dave since he's been having a successful career as an NFL coach and I assume the pay is better, but any chance Brock Olivo would consider coming back to MU to coach special teams if Odom reached out to him?
    I'm not sure Brock wants to coach at the college level. It's a completely different gig when you throw in the recruiting responsibilities. I think Brock would be great in that role as a college coach, but again, I'm not sure that's something he wants to do.
    The first half of the Xavier game reminded me of the 2018-19 Team- Tilmon in very early foul trouble, too many turnovers, missed 3 pointers...
    They had a much better 2nd half effort, but as in many close games from last season they were unable to seal the deal at the end. Xavier is ranked 21st, but didn’t play that great it the first half and led because of MUs ineptitude. This was a very winnable game. I wish the coaches would teach Tilmon once and for all how to set a screen and not commit a foul. He was successful several times in the 2nd half but had lazy positioning and looked like he was trying to give a hockey hip check on the 2nd foul that sent him to the for the last 17 minutes of the first half.
    Agreed. That first half looked familiar. I think this year the backcourt is better equipped to control games and mount comebacks like we saw in the second half. Dru Smith is very solid. Pinson is more confident and has a better feel for the game and the speed of the game. I'm still bullish on this team. Losing a road game against a ranked team in front of a lively crowd is not a bad thing in November. They can learn from this and build on it.
  • I couldn’t help but notice the difficult catches the GA WRs made that our WRs don’t seem to make
    Great point. You just don't see Mizzou's wideouts make contested catches. Part of that's on the QBs throwing them passes in coverage that require a great catch ... and then a lot more is on the receiver for going up and making that contested catch.
    I hope they preserve Bazelak’s redshirt. Let Powell take the snaps against the AK program that spurned him.
    There's no way they'll play Bazelak in each of the final three games - unless there's no way Bryant can play and they firmly believe they need Bazelak to win games. But I doubt that'll be the case.
  • Does Missouri pay the December nonconference BB teams like Incarnate Word, Chicago St. And Northern Kentucky thousands of dollars guarantees to come to COMO like the football team has to pay the September nonconference opponents like SEMO, Eastern Michigan, MTSU?
  • Yes. Basketball games aren't as pricey as football games, but those are guaranteed games, where the visiting team is paid a guaranteed appearance fee.
  • Kam Scott pushed a Georgia player to the ground and got an unsporstmanlike conduct penalty and would have been thrown out of the game if he got a second. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it looked to me when it happened, but I was a little surprised that he wasn’t thrown of of the game immediately.
    As long as it's a first-time offense, that's not a foul that gets you ejected. There are one of 10 offenses that get you flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Here's the one that got Scott:
     
    * Dead-ball contact fouls such as pushing, shoving, striking, etc. that occur clearly after the ball is dead and that are not part of the game action.
    PENALTY: All dead-ball fouls: 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. Flagrant offenders, if players or substitutes, shall be disqualified.
     
    One more flag for unsportsmanlike conduct would have sent Scott to the locker room.
     
    Your thoughts on the South End Zone, meaning, will this truly make a difference in recruiting or is it just a big waste of $?
    It won't hurt recruiting. It's a far more impressive facility to show recruits than the previous facility.
    Hi Dave - wondering if you've used you 2nd favoite website (http://secstatcat.com) to look at Mizzou's offensive schemes/playcalling relative to Kelly Bryant's health? Because i think it offers at least a partial explanation for the struggles of last month. (Leaving aside UGA, which was a whole different matter - backup QB, much better opponent, etc)

    Specifically, when Bryant was playing in the first 6 games, they used Zone Reads & RPOs roughly 25% of the time. After his knee injury vs Troy, those both dropped precipitously, by 75-80% (doesn't seem coincidental). There was a very brief uptick early vs UK, but again that mostly stopped after KB hurt his hamstring. And I think there's a lot of data there to show the impact of that before & after - from Rountree's success running on Zone Reads to terrific success rates passing on RPOs (and that's omitting SEMO game for more accurate comparison)

    So what explains offensive explosion vs Ole Miss? My simply theory: they prepped for RPOs/Zone Reads - what they saw on film thru 6 games. With KB banged up, Mizzou largely abandoned those & had to use different means to keep the D off balance - a lot more motion, misdirection in early down pass game, etc - things Ole Miss wouldnt have seen at all on film. And then the difference vs Vandy the next week is they had the Ole Miss film, & could adjust accordingly.

    Now, that's undoubtedly FAR from the whole story, but i do think it's pretty compelling as a partial explanation.

    Thoughts?
  • I would think there's a lot of truth to that. The knee injury surely impacted play-calling when it came to zone-read running plays, though Bryant ran for 72 yards at Vandy. Off the top of my head I can't recall how those plays developed, but clearly it's not the same offense when he's not a threat to run the ball on designed keepers/zone-read options. I also thought the O-line just did a crummy job controlling the line of scrimmage at Vandy and that threw off Bryant's timing and comfort level in the pocket throughout that game.
    Dave - At this point, it's hard to have a productive conversation without seeing how we end up after these next three games. I would have to predict a 6-6 season. Florida will be very tough with the way we are playing even with Kelly Bryant back and the Vols seem to be finding themselves especially on defense. This would leave us with a win against Arkansas. However, if we lose on Saturday, why would we not see more of Bazelak and Powell?
    What if the reason Missouri loses is the defense can't contain Florida or the special teams gives up some huge game-changing plays ... but Bryant plays just fine, moves the chains and leads some productive drives? If Bryant isn't the problem against Florida then there's no reason he shouldn't play against Tennessee and Arkansas.
    If Mizzou doesn’t win Saturday or the following, do you think Coach Odom is coaching for his job at Arkansas, in your opinion? A loss this Saturday, the following Saturday vs Tennessee and a loss at Arkansas in Little Rock means no bowl. Just like your thoughts. Thanks.
    I maintain the stance I've had for the last month and the same thing I said a year ago when MU was 5-4 through nine games: If they finish 6-6 or 5-7 then Jim Sterk has a big decision to make. Does he have faith that Odom can recover from a massively disappointing season and get the program back on track to be a consistent Top 25 team? This year's body of work would suggest no. Sterk will have to consider fan support/donor support and the financial upside/downside of making a change vs. not making a change. Smart ADs don't go into one game and let the final outcome decide their head coach's fate. If Mizzou beats Tennessee in OT with a field goal ... or loses to Tennessee in OT on a missed field goal, you don't make that kicker's kick be the sole tipping point on a multi-million dollar decision. 
    But, to simply answer your question, yes, I believe at anything less than 7-5 Sterk SHOULD have a decision to make. At 7-5, I'd be very surprised if they take a wrecking ball to the program and start over. In that case, it's Odom's mulligan and there NEEDS to be progress in 2020.
    All of that being said, no one really knows what's going on in Sterk's mind. He's not the kind of AD that shares those thoughts publicly. He doesn't crowdsource the media for thoughts on the situation. He also doesn't have a large inner circle in his cabinet. He's relatively private - and by design, from what I can tell.
    Do you think Cuonzo has what it takes to get Mizzou to the Final Four? Beyond?
    Not sure. He knows how to build a program. He has a clear blueprint in mind for building rosters. You can reach the Final Four without five-star recruits or one-and-done draft picks, but you generally need NBA talent to get there. He's got a lot of great qualities, but ultimately he'll be measured by the talent he recruits and develops.
    So it appears college head coaches are as vague as the NHL concerning injuries and reporting them, or not.
    Seems like we only thought Johnson had the flu, now it's also a shoulder injury.
    Odom doesn't share any less on injuries than most coaches. Some coaches don't even acknowledge injuries. Pinkel was more transparent and generally gave the media NFL-style injury reports: questionable, doubtful, probable, etc. With Odom, there are cases like Johnson where he doesn't even mention an injury, especially if they happen after Tuesdays during the week - because the media only gets to see the first half of Tuesday practices. Again, I get it. If his peers aren't disclosing injuries, why should he? That's why I never put a whole lot of stock on what he says about injured players and their status, especially four days before kickoff.
    If Counzo finds a quality replacement for Tilmon, next year, it looks like this team could truly make some noise then if each player continues to grow. I was a little disappointed in some of the mistakes in the Xavier game from players who are sophomores and juniors. I would assume by the time they're juniors and seniors, that is coached/practiced out of them.
  • They're not robots. They're going to make mistakes, especially on the road in just their fourth game playing together. Could be worse: They could have lost at home to Evansville.
    Dave,
    I know players have their reasons for leaving early, like Damarea Crockett after last season, but I hate seeing players leave early who barely have an outside chance of making a team. I feel in the long term their college degree will be worth more than what they could make at league minimum for only a year, maybe two at best, if they even make a roster.
    In your experience, do schools help these players come back and obtain a degree? After all they don't return on an athletic scholarship.
    Let's not forget, these players weren't recruited to Mizzou to be students. They were recruited to play football ... so a lot of them approach their career decisions solely through the football lens. Crockett didn't believe his stock would be any higher if he stayed another year in college and the payoff of getting his degree wasn't worth the payoff of going pro. Most of the guys who leave early don't return to get their degree. I'm not sure how much Mizzou really works with them to make that possible. Even if they get their degree, that doesn't guarantee they're going to have a successful career. That's one of Cuonzo Martin's major concerns with college athletics, that even with their degrees in hand athletes leave college unprepared for adulthood and life in the real world. He has some interesting thoughts on the topic.
  • For next year's QBs, it looks like a competition between the TCU transfer, Bazelak, and Powell? From those choices it appears they'll have two different styles among the three: two are drop back types and one is more of the Kelley Bryant type.
    Is this an accurate assessment?
    Let's not forget Bazelak was a wishbone QB in high school who ran the ball a lot. Now, he's not going to be confused for Lamar Jackson, but I don't think it's so cut and dried that Powell and Bazelak can't run and Robinson can run. There are some "drop-back" passers around college football who can be effective runners on draws and keepers and zone-reads. Joe Burrow is a great example. 
    So, either way, I don't think Mizzou has to drastically change the offense depending on which QB wins the job. Tweak, yes, but not change significantly. 
    I was very disappointed in the Tigers last two possessions in regulation time against Xavier. Seems they just dribble the ball until the clock was ready to expire and just chucked up a couple of bad shots, the last shot, even after calling a time out. This is disturbing because it seems like a pattern that for some reason has happened at Mizzou even with other coaches in charge. I don't think it reflects well on the coaching. Do you sense they recognize this as a problem, how they handle possessions in the latter minutes of games?
    I thought on the final possession they were looking for Dru Smith, but Xavier covered it well. And there's nothing wrong with a Mark Smith corner 3. The guy shot almost 46 percent from 3 last year. If he's open, he should shoot, always. He didn't execute the shot very well. Looks like he rushed it and thought there was less time left.
    Going to make this a 2-post question due to the length involved of what I want to say & ask you. So part 1 will focus on football, Part 2 will focus on basketball. Dave, I grow weary of hearing all the time year after year now about how MU is last or near last in the SEC in overall revenue, donations, etc. I thought that was one of the reasons we signed up for this SEC gig in the first place? We were going to be rolling in the $$$? Instead all you hear now all the time is we're so far behind the rest of the conference in 12-14th place in everything involving money.
    I hate that I'm having to say this because I initially was proud & excited to be part of this conference when we first joined, but maybe it's time to petition to get out of the SEC and back into the Big 12 where we can at least be middle-of-the-pack in all of those things? We just don't belong in this conference. I wanted to believe we did, but we keep proving we don't. The overall fan base at Mizzou, which was initially all gung-**. and onboard when the school made the jump to the SEC, has since abandoned ship, as only Mizzou fans can. Perhaps it's merely those 10-20K bitter fans still staying away from Faurot because of the protests in '15 and we'll never get them back. But that 10-20K is a lot to replace, and the powers that be in charge of running MU athletics seem to have no clue how to get new fans to replace them other than reduce the overall stadium capacity at Faurot by almost 10K seats!
    Missouri isn't leaving the SEC. Let's just stop right there. Mizzou is making more revenue than ever before. It's also spending more than ever before, but that' the price of doing business in the SEC and in college sports in general in 2019.
    The south end zone facility is going to increase revenue for the next fiscal year because of the new premium seating options. Single-game ticket sales were on the rise this year. The overall revenue figures hinge heavily on football season ticket sales and all the ancillary revenue sources that are tied to football attendance. That's the difference-maker. Men's basketball also, but to a lesser degree. 
    But Missouri was never going to be in the SEC's top tier for making money or spending money in the SEC. The program's history , the state demographics and the competing forces in the state (NFL, MLB, etc.) make it unfeasible to generate the kind of support that's possible at places like Alabama, LSU, Florida, etc. The goal has always been the middle tier. That's still possible. And if you're in the middle tier of spending in the SEC, you're squarely in the top 20 nationally. 
    Continuing from my previous post and question to you regarding whether Mizzou has become a bad fit for the SEC, this time regarding basketball: Its not just football, as I fear that we've disappointed the SEC conference in basketball also and become a liability more than an asset. I think initially the SEC was thrilled to have us join to help improve their overall basketball profile at the time in 2012. They knew at the time MU basketball had a lot more of an overall proud tradition and better history than the majority of the programs in the conference outside of perhaps KY & FLA. They saw Mizzou Arena packed to the rafters during MU's last year in the Big 12.
    But since then? As you know, things have changed drastically, MU basketball has overall been a huge bust in the SEC, our enigmatic infuriating fan base still is leaving Mizzou Arena half empty on most nights even as Cuonzo is doing his damnedest to build up the program again, and about 7-8 SEC basketball teams have surpassed MU to now make the SEC one of the best conferences in the country. So Mizzou's "help" is no longer required there.
    In summation: I hate to say it, and feel free to ridicule me and tell me how wrong I am, but we should get out of the SEC & go back to the Big 12 if we can.  Maybe the SEC & Big 12 would be willing to do a straight-up trade of West Virginia for Mizzou?
    Again, not happening. Mizzou was great for SEC hoops two years ago when the arena was full and the Tigers finished fifth in the league.
    I was at the game in Athens on Saturday night, the first live MIZZOU game I've been able to attend since we played at Clemson in the late 1990's. I sat with Georgia friends and wasn't nearly as embarrassed as I expected to be. The defense played well and Tyler Powell was better than I expected. I knew the running game wasn't supposed to do well, but was most disappointed by the receivers. I can't see Okweigbunam as a high draft choice. What has happened to our receivers? Thank you for your reporting, always objective and not some crazy fan like so many sports reporters.
    I just haven't seen the receivers develop under this staff. Knox, Scott just haven't been difference-makers against SEC competition. Nance is a nice possession receiver. Johnson can be very productive but is hardly a superstar. Banister is pretty consistent. I've been saying for weeks he should play more. I didn't quite understand some questions I heard being asked during camp and early in the season about Mizzou's depth at receiver. I didn't see it then and still don't see it. You're starting to see some recruiting misses at receiver haunt this offense.
    Follow up to answer below: Bryant actually "ran" for 90 yds (not including sacks), but to your point the majority were scrambles.

    Conversely, he also had 90 yds rushing after sacks vs South Carolina - but on 12 "designed" runs vs only 3 scrambles
    Yes, it's been a while since we saw Bryant effectively get yards on designed running plays.
    I appreciate your view on Sterk's future HC decision.
    We know Sterk expects a FB team to be a consistent Top 25 team. What does he expect for men's BB? The big tournament every year? Consistent Top 25? With this Cuonzo's third year we should be approaching that. Maybe not quite there yet.
    He generally believes all his teams should be consistent top 25 teams. That doesn't mean he fires the head coach the moment that isn't true. The football program has been a top 25 program far more recently and more consistently than the basketball program over the last decade, so it's fair to say recent success influences those expectations, too.
    Based on your earlier statement concerning Martin's views on athletes' preparedness for adulthood after college, might we expect an article from you or Ms. Long on his thoughts?
  • It's something I've talked to him about off the record but not in a formal interview setting. Probably not something I'll approach during the grind of the season. It's pretty much all basketball this time of year.
  • Hey Dave, it may come as a surprise to some that even at home games most D1 college football teams stay at hotels the night before the game. Do you have any clue as to where Mizzou stays at, or is that confidential information?
  • Yes, I know. I'm not sure that's something they want shared publicly. The team stayed in Jeff City for years but Pinkel changed that policy once some nicer hotels opened in Columbia.
    It appears on Josh Christopher’s twitter banner photo that he’s wearing the black Mizzou basketball uniform. It’s a photo that looks like it was edited as is the case for most recruits, but could this potentially be a low-key hint at something?
    Whatever you're referring to I don't see it on his twitter account. He's wearing a red hoodie.
    OK, folks. That's all the time I have today. We'll do this again next week. Thanks for stopping by.
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