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.

    Greetings, Mizzou chatters. I'll be here for the next couple hours to take your questions. Let's get started, shall we?
    Glad to see from your tweet that Okongo exists. Any further thoughts after watching him practice? Will he contribute at all or mainly be a 3rd/4th back up for Tilmon?

    Same question for parker braun.
    I'd be surprised if Okongo contributes much, especially at the beginning of the season. He's just getting involved in practices after missing three weeks with a sprained toe. He has what I'd call an unorthodox free throw/shooting style, but otherwise he didn't do much of anything during the practice that was open last Saturday. For now, Martin has talked like Reed Nikko and Mitchell Smith are the backups to Tilmon at the five position, though Smith will also play the four.
    Braun might be able to help this team in some capacity. He was one of the most talkative guys during the practice I watched. Super engaged. Gets up and down the floor well for his size. Has some shooting range. He could be an energy guy off the bench with some skill to add, but I'm not sure how much we see of him. 
    Has Jalen Knox caught a pass this year? Haven't seem him much and understand Kam Scott seems to have passed him, but surprised he hasn't shown up much at all
  • 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."
    Don't really give much weight to preseason predictions, but 13th in the SEC seems a bit pessimistic, no?
  • I didn't vote for the men's hoops standings - I had a women's ballot this year - but I would not have picked Mizzou that low. I would have MU more in the eighth,  ninth range. The league is deep. There are a lot of really good coaches in the SEC and they're recruiting better players than ever before. But I think Mizzou has a strong core that's going to surprise people around the league.
    Here's the unspoken reality of how these ballots come together: A bunch of writers who are completely consumed with football in October are asked to rank the teams 1 to 14. Some voters surely glance at last year's standings and last year's team stats and see that MU finished 12th and lost their leader in points, assists, steals, minutes, etc., and figured Martin's team is going to be worse, or at the least no better than last year. Mizzou fans are convinced Dru Smith is the second coming, but that hype hasn't extended to other SEC markets. Same goes for freshmen forwards Kobe Brown and Tray Jackson. I like MU's upside. They've got a chance to win 20 games and make it back to the NCAA tourney. 
    How did the linebacker play look in Garrett's absence? Same LBs in the mix this week?
  • 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."
    Picked 13 out of 14 SEC teams...ouch. I don't put too much into the preseason rankings, but that seems too low.
    Just shared my thoughts a little earlier. I am a voter for the AP Top 25 this year, and when I put together my preseason rankings, I start off by ranking each of the major conferences from top to bottom. Here's how I slotted the SEC teams:
    1. Kentucky
    2. Florida
    3. LSU
    4. Auburn
    5. Mississippi State
    6. Tennessee
    7. Ole Miss
    8. Missouri
    9. Alabama
    10. Georgia
    11. South Carolina
    12. Arkansas
    13. Texas A&M
    14. Vanderbilt
     
    I could see Georgia and South Carolina being much better than where I ranked them. I could see Mississippi State and Auburn not being nearly as good as where I have them. UK and Florida will be very good. Vandy will struggle. That much I know. 
    What do you know about the new St Louis Battlehawk QB Jordan Ta’amu from Ole Miss?
    Mu didn’t play Ole Mise while he was there. He threw fo 5600 passing yards in his 2 seasons. That looks good but other than that I know nothing about him.q
  • 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.
    Trap game at Vandy? How do teams get up for playing them in front of about 18,000 fans?
    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.
    I know that it was going to be tough for Johnson to set the all-time mark, and it seems to have been a slow start to the season prior to last Saturday. Do you know how far he is from the record at this point?
    Here's what I wrote Monday. 
     
    With six regular-season games left, Johnson has 2,171 career receiving yards. That’s good for sixth place all-time, trailing only Danario Alexander, Justin Gage, Chase Coffman, J’Mon Moore and Jeremy Maclin. He needs 608 yards to surpass Alexander as the team’s career leader. That’s probably a stretch considering the number of targets on this team, but Johnson should be a lock to finish in the top four or five all-time. His 149 receptions currently rank 10th, one behind Tommy Saunders. If he doubles his production from the first half of the season, he’ll finish with 174 catches, putting him in seventh place.
    I don't see any way he gets the receiving yards record, unless he suddenly becomes Bryant's No. 1 target by a large margin and the Tigers play in 14 games. He needs to average more than 100 yards in six games - and Johnson has five 100-yard games in his career. Against Missouri State, UConn, Eastern Michigan, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. He's always been a good player; rarely an elite player. He had a great Liberty Bowl and a very strong game on Saturday. I wouldn't put him in the same company as guys like Maclin, Alexander or Gage. 
    I was just writing a comment just like joe's. I guess I am more optimistic. I really Cuonzo is going to get this all figured out and things will be more like the best of Norm Stewart/Quin Snyder/Mike Anderson. Maybe, ultimately, make it to a Final Four. Perhaps I need to take the rose-colored glasses off. Thanks.
    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 was disappointed to see MUBB picked to finish 13th out of 14 SEC teams for the upcoming SEC BB season. That’s down one from last year. This is HCCM’s third season. He made the big dance in his first season and won only 5 conference games last year. MU is paying him big bucks, but not to get worse than the previous season. Please tell me MU won’t finish 13th in the SEC this year.
    This is a tone I'm hearing/reading a lot from readers recently, disappointment in the preseason rankings. You realize these are just guesses, right? This doesn't mean Mizzou is destined to finish 13th. Let's let the season play out. My hunch is Martin absolutely loves this preseason poll. These players will be reminded of the number 13 for weeks and months to come. Heck, when I interviewed a few players a couple weeks ago they totally understood the low outside expectations. 
     
    I touched on the voting process for this a few minutes ago. It's not like Mizzou generated a lot of buzz that leaked outside of the state of Missouri this offseason. The biggest addition to the team came in the spring of 2018, (Dru Smith). 
     
    Also, don't forget this: Two years ago here's how the same media poll slotted the teams:
    1. Kentucky
    2. Florida
    3. Texas A&M
    4. Alabama
    5. Missouri
    6. Arkansas
    7. Vanderbilt
    8. Georgia
    9. Auburn
    10. Ole Miss
    11. South Carolina
    12. Mississippi State
    13. Tennessee
    14. LSU
    Here were the SEC tournament seedings that season:
    1. Auburn
    2. Tennessee
    3. Florida
    4. Kentucky
    5. Missouri
    6. Arkansas
    7. Mississippi State
    8. Texas A&M
    9. Alabama
    10. LSU
    11. South Carolina  
    12. Georgia
    13. Vanderbilt
    14. Ole Miss
     
    Three teams finished at least five points below their expected spot: Texas A&M, Alabama, Vanderbilt.
    Another three finished at least five spots higher, including the co-champions, Auburn (plus 8) and Tennessee (plus 11). 
     
    Hey, Dave ... can you enlighten us a bit as to how the polls work? We're #22 in the AP poll (I assume that writers such as you) and then, if I read it right, we didn't get a single vote/point in the Coaches Poll. I realize coaches don't really fill those out - at least I hope they have better things to do - but SoCar had a few votes (yes, they won in Athens) after we made them look pretty bad. What should we take from that other than the polls are mostly for fan amusement and shouldn't be taken too seriously?
    I reported back in August that Mizzou is ineligible for the coaches poll while under sanctions. Here's what I wrote a couple months ago:

    It's a long-held policy of the American Football Coaches Association that its members are prohibited from voting in the coaches' poll for teams that are under major sanctions, as in a postseason ban, AFCA spokesman Vince Thompson confirmed. That policy was in place before USA Today began overseeing the poll in 1991.

    In 2010, Southern California was similarly excluded from the coaches' poll ballot, as was Ohio State in 2011, when both schools were under postseason bans. 

    If Missouri's postseason ban is overturned by the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee, Missouri will then be eligible for the coaches' poll ballot and can receive votes. Missouri can continue to receive votes if it remains on probation after this season. The program was placed on three years probation as part of the NCAA sanctions for academic misconduct. 

    Has Knox been down with his role being less than expected? I thought he was MU’s next breakout star after a promising freshman season. I hope he sticks around for his junior season
    Like I wrote earlier, this is a balanced receiver corps. Who should be getting less touches at his expense? Nance has been reliable. Scott is a big-play threat. Albert O needs his touches. Bryant is getting the backs involved in the passing game. Let's not forget this fact: In four of Mizzou's six games, they barely ran any offense in the second half. Compare these first and second half splits:
    Pass attempts
    1st half: 116
    2nd half: 80
    Passing yards
    1st half: 992
    2nd half: 657
    Passing TDs
    1st half: 10
    2nd half: 2
    If Missouri had a crummy defense or running game, you might see more passing yards and better numbers for Knox ... but this team hasn't needed to throw very much. And they have other options that have been just as good if not better. 
    As for Knox's take on his production, he was celebrating as much as anyone after Saturday's game. He's about as grounded and mature a player as you'll find on this team.
     
    Sounds like the Vanderbilt game is a gimee. I don’t know what to expect at Kentucky. Hope the team is not overlooking these 2 and thinking about Georgia and Florida. It was nice to see South Carolina beat Georgia at Georgia. It gives me hope that MU can do the same. It is nice finally that MU broke into the Top 25. They would have been in there awhile had they not stumbles at Wyoming.
    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."
    Dave, why did the refs stop play when Ole Miss was flagged for too many men on the field? Why didn't the Tigers get a free play?
  • If it happens before the snap, it's a dead-ball foul. Here's the rule:
     
    When Team A sends in its substitutes, the officials will not allow the ball to be snapped until Team B has been given an opportunity to substitute. While in the process of substitution or simulated substitution, Team A is prohibited from rushing quickly to the line of scrimmage with the obvious attempt of creating a defensive disadvantage. If the ball is ready for play, the game officials will not permit the ball to be snapped until Team B has placed substitutes in position and replaced players have left the field of play. Team B must react promptly with its substitutes.
     
    PENALTY – (First offense) Dead-ball foul. Delay of game on Team B for not completing its substitutions promptly, or delay of game on Team A for causing the play clock to expire. Five yards from the succeeding spot [S21]. The referee will then notify the head coach that any further use of this tactic will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.
    Are there ever any Arthur Johnson or Ricky Paulding sightings in CoMo? I know both of them play in Europe but I was just wondering. I really liked those two players and thought those two guys in particular were really good and entertaining, especially their Elite Eight team that Oklahoma fouled the snot out of.
    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.
    After what you have seen this season, what would be your current projections for the final record? (excluding a bowl game for now). Should be realistic expectation be a 10-2 finish? With the weaknesses that the rest of the conference has shown, it feels like 9-3 should be the floor. What would you predict at the moment?
    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.
    From a fan's perspective, the atmosphere around the FB program (coaches, players, staff) seems to be the best its been in years. Do you get the sense that these coaches have really bought in to BO in the same way that they did for Pinkel in the prime years?

    It also feels like it has been a huge benefit for Odom to relax and open up with Fans/Media. In a lot of ways it feels like after a rough first year or two, that Odom choosing to embrace a public role runs in start contrast to some of the other coaches in the same type of situation after a year (specifically K.Anderson or Matheny with the Cards, or even outside the state like Pruitt with UT). While winning is still the ultimate cure, this approach seems to have marked a major turnaround for Odom to not let himself slip into the "Paranoid Jerk" role with the public.
    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.
    Dave, are you surprised by the SEC basketball predictions? I think Mizzou will surprise some folks. I was at the LSU game last year and we should have won that game despite not having some of our best players available.
    Thanks for your good work.
    2nd to last in the SEC is the prediction this year by the media. Seems very low doesn't it? If that's true then that means a lot of teams will have leapfrogged Mizzou.
    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.
    I was a little surprised to see you describe Bryant's passes as "accurate". I don't exactly know why I even bring this up in the midst of what is shaping up as a season for the ages, thanks in no small part to his efforts. I agree with the general consensus about his leadership, toughness, running, and how much better he is than our other alternatives. I won't be surprised if we get to the SEC Championship. NEVERTHELESS and despite some dropped balls (but not as many as reported, I think) I still see too many poorly thrown uncatchable balls, and at least one bad decision/poor execution INT per game. I think he is much more comparable to James Franklin, than to, say Cam Newton or DeShaun Watson, which was my expectation based on all the hype.
    Bryant's completion percentage (65.0) is right in line with what he averaged at Clemson (66.2). And it's right in line with the other guys you mention.
    Cam Newton's completion percentage the year he won the Heisman was 66.1 percent.
    Deshaun Watson's junior year percentage was 67.0. Watson threw 17 interceptions that year. Bryant is on pace for eight.
    James Franklin was a career 62.1-percent passer. Drew Lock was 56.9 and his best single-season percentage was 62.9.
    So, if those are the QBs we're talking about, it's more than fair to describe Bryant as an accurate college passer. 
     
    Earlier in the season, you and I discussed in this space the idea of Dawson Downing becoming the third-back option. I suggested that he'd shown enough to get one or two series a game, add a few bruises to the opposing defense and some energetic yards - to me, he has the combination of enough speed, quickness and strength to elude a tackle or two and get 4 - 6 yards on a lot of carries. At the time, I remember you saying you didn't think the coaching staff saw that ... has anything changed or did they just not let on what they were seeing in Downing's work?
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