Greetings, Mizzou chatters. I'll be here for the next couple hours to take your questions. Let's get started, shall we?
Knox is fourth on the team in receiving yards (213) and has a dozen catches. Nobody on this team from the wide receiver group going to finish with a ton of catches or push for All-SEC honors. And that's OK. Mizzou runs more than it throws and it throws to the running backs and the tight ends a lot, which was to be expected with Kelly Bryant at quarterback. Badie leads all SEC running backs in catches and receptions. The fallout of that is someone is going to get less touches. Derek Dooley was asked about the balanced distribution this week - five different players have 200 receiving yards and Scott is 9 yards away from making it six - and he likes it this way. Balance is good. It's healthy. Bryant doesn't have to lean on one guy, like Drew Lock did at times with J'Mon Moore and Emanuel Hall. "If I had like seven Julio Jones that's what I would like," Dooley said, "But if I didn't have that, I like what we got, which is a bunch of guys who all have different skill sets. They're all bought into the team concept and bought into what we're doing offensively and they're playing hard."
Cam Wilkins played the bulk of the snaps at middle linebacker and Jamal Brooks played there for a couple series. I'd expect a similar rotation this week. Wilkins was solid. He was part of the initial push on the goal-line stand. He finished with six tackles. Solid debut. This was a vote of confidence from Odom: "We can play winning football with the way he did the other day."
He took over at Ole Miss after Shea Patterson got hurt in 2017 then was the regular QB last year. Put up decent numbers for a team that wasn't very good defensively. Look closely at his 2018 season and he really struggled against the best teams on Ole Miss' schedule. Numbers were rough against Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State. He lit up La-Monroe, Kent State, Southern Illinois and Vandy.
If Missouri loses this game then the Tigers deserve to be banned from the postseason. This is a really bad Vandy team that's wasting three top-shelf offensive skill players. QB play has been really bad. The defense has been worse. Mizzou might have more fans in Nashville this weekend. MU has beaten at least three teams that are better than Vandy: Ole Miss, South Carolina and West Virginia. Troy might be better. Wyoming certainly is better.
The foundation is there for Missouri to build a consistent winner. Martin doesn't chase a lot of five-star recruits ... and we've seen him struggle to land the elite local targets. He's going to have to win by identifying talent and developing talent. He'll need collections of guys to stick together and develop together. This year will be a litmus test to see if that process works. Mizzou fans cut Martin a lot of slack after a 15-17 season following Jontay Porter's injury. This year, though, the expectations should be higher. He has his core of players in place. A few players are in year three under Martin, a few more are in year two. He's added transfers. He has an experienced multitalented backcourt, which can lead you a long way in college basketball. I'm bullish on this team, but again, some of this is blind faith. Martin's teams have historically been good - but never truly elite.
I don't expect this team to overlook anyone at this point. Georgia is three weeks away. Florida is four weeks away. Nobody on this team has played in a victory over Kentucky, so I don't see MU looking past that game, especially with a bye the following week. Give this team credit for not overlooking any of the last five opponents, so I wouldn't expect them to change their approach now. Wyoming was a lesson learned. Not that MU overlooked Wyoming, but after taking a 14-0 lead, it sure seemed like they put it in cruise control until the fourth quarter. Odom talked about that this week. "You gotta prepare like every game is the same … and if you don’t you’re not going to win," he said. "I wish there was a way you could just roll your helmet out there and win a game because of who you are, but that aint’ us."
Johnson has been retired for a while I believe. I'm not sure where he lives. Paulding has played in Germany for over 10 years.
9-3 should be the minimum expectation. 10-2 is certainly possible. Unless things go sideways in Nashville, Missouri will be favored in at least four of its final six games. If Florida loses to South Carolina and Georgia, the Gators could be underdogs in Columbia in four weeks. Or could be underdogs if they just lose to Georgia. Florida is better than it has been the last couple years, but so is Missouri, so no reason to think the Tigers can't win that game in Columbia.
There's a little bit of chicken or the egg here. Yes, Odom is better with the media and the public now than ever before. Is it because he's winning more ... or is he winning more because he's more comfortable in his skin publicly? Both can be true at the same time. More than anything, I think he's very happy with his staff. He has loyal, veteran coaches on his staff who are genuinely liked by their colleagues and players. A bunch of different coaches on this staff fit that profile, but especially Brick Haley and Derek Dooley. They've been part of many staffs and worked under a lot of different head coaches - Nick Saban, Jason Garrett, Les Miles, Charlie Strong, Lovie Smith, Sylvester Croom - and these guys seem to genuinely revere Odom and the culture he's built at MU. Same for Garrick McGee, who's been a Bobby Petrino guy through a good chunk of his career, and Vernon Hargreaves, who's coached all over. David Gibbs, too. This staff just seems to have good chemistry, good experience and they all march together in step.
I was not surprised by the poll, because, as I noted earlier, Missouri hasn't generated a lot of buzz that's transcended the local markets this offseason. The program is off the radar beyond the folks who cover it closely.