Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

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

    Greetings, chatters. We've got a couple hours to talk all things Mizzou, college football and anything else you want to discuss. Today is an off day for Mizzou media access, so no interviews today. We've got a story and video interviews with the two grad transfer receivers on the site. Look for a new Mizzou podcast with Ben Frederickson and myself on the site later today, too.
    Realistically, how long can Coach Drinkwitz keep his choice for starting quarterback a secret? To keep Alabama guessing, could it be a game day decision?
    He's not going to announce anything. We'll know for sure when we see who takes the first snap on Sept. 26. I suspect on the game week public depth chart it will list three QBs with a couple ORs between them. With practices and scrimmages closed to the media, we won't get to see who's working with the first-team offense to get a good read on the situation. Maybe a teammate will leak something on social media, but there's no way the team will confirm anything until kickoff. I don't blame Drinkwitz. There's no advantage to disclosing the starter between now and the first game. If he's going to have any advantage in the opener, he might as well keep Alabama guessing. I wouldn't be surprised if you see multiple players touch the ball off the snap, at least in the first game. This team has several wide receivers who were quarterbacks in their former football lives: Knox, Chism, Wilson. Drinkwitz's playbook is full of outside-the-box plays to cause confusion for defenses.
    How long can the athletic department wait before it tells ticketholders its decisions about tailgating, seating priorities, revised seating assignments, season ticket limitations (eg, 2 instead of 4, etc), staged/scheduled entries, etc? Are you hearing whether or not there has already been a lot of input/reaction/pushback to what has already been announced? Are there significant concerns that too many limits will cause long-term consequences for the season ticket base?
    I was told earlier this week the athletics department plans to roll out seating policies sometime this week. Jim Sterk is meeting with the media on Monday afternoon, so maybe that's the day. 
    MU polled its donors and season-ticket holders about their preferences for this revised seating policy throughout the process the last few months, so folks impacted by the decision shouldn't be caught completely off guard. 
    This is a one-year anomaly for the changes they're making to the seating policy and the stadium mandates set by the SEC. So, I wouldn't expect reasonable people to be resistant to any of the changes. We're in the middle of a pandemic. I think there's a stronger debate to be had whether schools should be hosting gatherings of thousands of people. But, as of today, the SEC and Mizzou are moving forward with plans to have fans in the stadiums. I'm not sure what the point of pushing back on these policies are. If fans don't like them, they can stay home - where they don't have to wear a mask! 
    Good Morning Dave - With a new coach, new coaching staff, new quartberback and mostly - a new offense, I would think the first few games are needed just to see if they can move the ball forward, along with evaluating players. With Mizzou playing Alabama, TN and LSU their first three game this may be more difficult to see if they are truly "laying the ground work" as Coach Drink has mentioned. I know the ground work may take the entire season, but are they better off jumping into tough conference opponents or are those first couple of non-conference games going to be missed to give coaches a better evaluation? Thank You
    Whether they're better off or not really doesn't matter. Because they have no choice. This is the schedule. I think there's a lot of value in seeing what you're made of immediately and testing yourself against elite competition. Let's not assume Alabama and LSU won't be a little rusty in those early games, too. They have more talent and more depth and, in most cases, more continuity, but I don't expect to see polished performances across the board in college football after this wacky offseason. 
    BenFred and I just discussed this on today's podcast, but I don't the fair measurement of Drinkwitz and the 2020 season is solely wins and losses. Let's see how this team competes against the best teams on the schedule. Let's see how this offense functions. Let's see how this team improves. If Mizzou goes 3-7 but shows progress from month to month and by season's end is playing its best football, fans should feel good about the future, regardless if they win three or four games. As of today, I'd expect Mizzou to be favored in only two or three games. Vanderbilt and Arkansas for sure. Doubtful you'll see them favored on the road against South Carolina or Mississippi State - unless those teams flop early and Mizzou plays better than expected. The consensus over/under win total for Mizzou right now is three. I think that's fair just based on what we know about this team. 
    I wish him well, but if Chism is so great, why didn't he make it out of Division II sooner? Is this (hopefully) a situation of a player being recruited because it looks like he fits a coach's scheme?
    For one, he had to earn his undergraduate degree to become a grad transfer. That happened last December. Maybe he didn't want to sit out a full year. If not, then he had to get that degree first. A 6-4, 215-pound productive receiver with this kind of drive and work ethic - based on everything coaches and teammates have said so far - will fit into most schemes. I'd expect him to start. By the way people are talking about him - and considering Drinkwitz is giving everyone a clean slate - it shouldn't be a shocker if he's voted a team captain. People are already talking about him being a leader on this team.
    A. Easier with a new coach. They say they don't play favorites, but I've seen many times where a new staff gives the rookies they recruited the benefit of the doubt. 
    B. Harder. On average, I'd say most veteran players have an easier time absorbing a new playbook and learning how to transfer what's learned in the meeting room to the practice field. Veteran players know how to balance all the other demands of being a college athlete. 
    All that being said, it could still come down to talent. If coaches see the risk of playing an inexperienced but more talented players as more rewarding in the long-run, they might pull the trigger and play that rookie - in some capacity. 
    Dave - Do you think Coach Drinkwitz should have hired an assistant from another SEC team as a member of his staff to help give him insight when preparing for up coming games? Thank You
    O-line coach Marcus Johnson spent the last couple seasons at Mississippi State and played at Ole Miss.
    I don't think there's any inherent advantage for this season by hiring someone straight off an SEC staff. That said, there is a lot of SEC experience on Mizzou's staff: Tight ends coach Casey Woods played at at an SEC school (Tennessee) and coached on an SEC staff with Drinkwitz (Auburn). Special teams coordinator Erik Link coached on that Auburn staff as well, along with running backs Curtis Luper. Defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison has coached at Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State. Receivers coach Bush Hamdan coached at Florida. Brick Haley coached at Arkansas and LSU. David Gibbs coached at Auburn. 
    That's a lot of SEC experience on one staff. 
    If Barry odom hadn't been canned last season, would he have been canned after this one? this team looks... terrible.
    I'm not sure many coaches will get fired after a pandemic-shortened season. But if we're playing the hypothetical game, with this schedule and this roster, I'm not sure Odom would have won more than three games - and that probably would have been all it took for Sterk to fire him. Also, let's not assume Odom would have landed some of the players Mizzou has signed since the coaching change, including all four graduate transfers.
    Everything I hear assumes that Shawn Robinson will start at QB, and I’m not sure why? Wasn’t his completion percentage below average in a defense weak big 12? He then lost the job despite his experience, so I don’t understand all the buzz? Going back to Brad Smith, Mizzou has had good years with a duel threat quarterback, but the times when they seemed close to breaking program barriers has always been with a QB who could throw, not with a duel threat QB. I thought James Franklin was underrated, but seemed like with Drew, Mauk, (at times) and Chase Daniel there was excitement and anything was possible. They could change the game (doesn’t mean they always did).
    Connor has the arm...doesn’t he have the higher ceiling even with less experience? I’m not just referring to the very brief playing time last year....He was recruited by Eli...Shawn never was, I would think a coach would want to play a player he recruited? Wasn’t Connor a top 10 QB recruit...also recruited by Georgia who has had a top 5 program the last couple of years?
    I know coaches want to win every game every year, but it seems like there is more pressure to win In the 3rd & 4th year than the first. If players won’t lose a year of eligibility, getting Connor playing time this year would then leave him with 4 years to play and 2 years of game experience in the SEC? Have decent running backs coming back this year so less need for a running QB this season? I am assuming either Connor or the East St. Louis recruit will end up transferring since they will be within 1 year of each other in terms of eligibility....
    Robinson never lost the job at TCU. He suffered a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery. And he played two games with the injury. That said, those stats at TCU won't determine whether he wins the job at Mizzou. It's all about how they play leading up to the opener and who shows he's best suited to score points for this offense. I give Robinson the edge because he's more dynamic as a runner - and even though Drinkwitz has developed pocket passers (Ryan Finley at Boise and NC State), his offense seems more dangerous with a dual-threat QB back there, especially with a shortage of proven playmakers at receiver. I'm not sure this team has the proven weapons at receiver and tight end or the offensive line to have a prototypical drop-back passing game that's going to attempt 40 throws a game. But if Bazelak proves to be the more consistent option and gets the offense to the end zone more often in camp, he'll have a great shot to win the job.
    Dave - Do you think we have the size with our defensive interior to stop the run up the middle? Thank You
    Yes, that should be a strength for his defense. Whiteside, Byers, Utsey, McGuire, Robinson, Daniels should have the size to hold their own inside. And when you have depth - and this group appears to have depth - you don't wear down as easily over the course of a game or the course of a season. Williams and Turner aren't small dudes either. They've got the muscle to support the run on the edge. This line might not have a superstar, but there's no reason it can't be among the top half in the league.
    I doubt Nick (Lou) Saban or the Alabama defense loses any sleep about who the Mizzou quarterback is. When is the last time any opponent cared who Mizzou started at QB? When Chase Daniel was playing?
    Saban employs an army of coaches to care about just that. Maybe they won't lose any sleep, but Alabama will have every possibility covered before that game. That's what makes that program elite - on top of recruiting all that talent. Watch the documentaries/behind the scenes shows on Saban or read the books about him or by him. He might be the most meticulous coach in any sport in America when it comes to preparation. His staff absolutely will study all it can about Mizzou and Drinkwitz's offense and the possible options at quarterback.
    You don't think opponents cared about preparing for Drew Lock? You don't think Alabama and LSU and Georgia prepared game plans speciffically for one of the most prolicif passing QBs in SEC history? 
    What do you think will happen to Head coaches' salaries over the next few years? It's hard for me to think mizzou would give out another 6 years x $4 million dollar contract this year if they had a vacancy. Will salaries go down, contract length be shortened, both, neither?
    Good question. We'll have to see if things return to some sense of normalcy for college sports in 2021 or if there's a long-term impact on how schools spend money on sports in the future. There's always going to be programs who have the money to spend more on coaches - because they have more fans and wealthier fans who fill their 100,000-seat stadiums year after year.
    Mizzou should also ask the season ticket holders if they would even plan to show up. Doesn't make sense to only issue 20,000 tickets and then those 20,000 fans are COVID afraid, and decide not to show up. Would leave an empty or at best and 'Kansas-like' crowd.
    Mizzou season-ticket holders had a chance to renew their tickets for 2020 knowing full well that the COVID was going to impact the season and the seating policy - and many of them still renewed. There will be fans in the stadium this year as long as the SEC allows it. And as of now, that's the plan.
    Dave, hi

    Thank you for the chat.

    I was wondering how would the bubble idea work for college basketball ? I can see it working during winter break, but what about the games not during breaks and the NCAA tournament? Does it mean student athletes will be shuffled around from one bubble to another while taking online courses? And wouldn’t it open the door for those who would say that this proves that it’s about athletes that are actually employees of the university , and true student athletes?
    That's the crux of the bubble plan. You can't keep going along with this sham that athletes are students and not employees. If you're going to ship them off to another city for weeks at a time so they can play basketball and take online courses - even if you promise them a scholarship should they decide to opt out - these are no longer students who happen to also play sports. I'm not sure  how the logistics would work for the bubble or if enough schools would agree to the concept. Nobody signed up to play college sports during a pandemic, but they also didn't sign up to be stuck in a bubble miles away from campus to take online classes.
    Dave - I'm Nick Saban and I'm telling my offensive coaches to stop the run period no matter who is running the ball and make Mizzou beat us in the air. Would you agree?
    I think Nick would probably tell his defensive coaches, not his offensive coaches. But, generally, yes. Stop the run first. Force an untested passing game to put the ball in the air.
    Hi Dave. Wow! Some great fans on the chat today. Must have stayed up too late. My question is do you think 10 conference games, one FCS and one other Power 5 is the way to go from here on? As a fan I love it. What are your thoughts? Thanks
    As a fan you might love it, but if your'e the coach at a rebuilding program at the bottom of the SEC you don't love it. I'm skeptical that enough schools will agree to a 10-game league schedule. They've been almost universally opposed to a nine-game schedule for years. Fans love to see the high-profile opponents; but they don't have much of an appetite for 6-6, 7-5 seasons year after year. And if you're Missouri or Arkansas or Ole Miss, if you're playing 10 SEC games every year, you're going to be an underdog far more often than not. It's hard to build excitement within your base if 7-5 is your ceiling. So, I can see why coaches/ADs will be hesitant to embrace this format as a fixture.
    If it's taking this long to give fans some answers about how the football season is going to work, I'm going to assume they also won't be ready for basketball to start. And when they do finally start, I assume I will no longer be able to walk up and buy a ticket into any game like I used to do.
    by Ghost of Sparky Stalcup edited by Mike Smith 8/20/2020 5:14:46 PM
    The schools and conferences are trying to manage their way through a pandemic and make decisions as timely as they can. Just like the schools, the hospitals, the businesses around the country, athletics departments are adjusting on the fly. They want to have fans at sporting events, but these decisions aren't made in a vacuum.
    Dave - When will you be able to give your readers any insight on how well camp is going? I have so many questions to ask, but I feel like I'm shooting in the dark. Thank You
  • I'm sorry, but camp is closed to reporters. The first snap of Mizzou football I'll see is on game day, Sept. 26. We can ask the players and coaches countless questions about practice, but obviously their comments are slanted toward what they want us to know - not always the unvarnished reality. NFL teams are allowing media to their workouts and some colleges are allowing limited access, but this is Mizzou's policy this year. I'll make the most of my access with with my coverage. But obviously this is a different kind of preseason camp from what we in the media are used to covering and what fans are used to reading about.
  • Dave: Just don’t understand why the Big 10 and the other top 5’s cancelled their seasons so early? Other than the obvious massive Covid outbreak among the teams, are there any other factors that could put an end to the SEC football season?
    If the ACC and/or the Big 12 pull the plug and postpone to the spring, I can't imagine the SEC will go at it alone in the fall. Otherwise, it's going to come down to preventing outbreaks within their rosters. I think the SEC can move forward with games even if there are campus outbreaks among non-athletes. But if teams are having to shut down practices for weeks at a time, I can't see the league pushing ahead with games. The hope is that by delaying the start of the season to late September the teams will have time to overcome any outbreaks they have on campus.

    Do you think that if people are honest with themselves, and even this is one year disruption to college sports (and next year things will return to normal, when hopefull the current vaccines that are worked on will be successful), the financial ramifications of this for college sports are something that would last a couple of years.
    I wish I had the answer. My guess is this will impact the schools with smaller fan bases more severely than the Alabamas, Michigans, Ohio States, Notre Dames, etc. Schools that struggle to compete financially in their respective conferences because of smaller/less generous fan bases (i.e., Missouri) are going to struggle more to recover. They don't have the resources to overcome massive revenue losses.
    Dave - Any word on where Kelly Bryant has landed? I feel bad the way his college career ended. Looking back, I think we expected him to be the savior on a poorly coached offensive team. Thank You.
    Bryant had a tryout with the Arizona Cardinals, several outlets reported last week. He has not signed a contract to my knowledge.
    Dave - Who will have the most success of the four new head coaches in the SEC? I don't just mean the number of wins, but the progress each team makes?
    Great question. I think Mike Leach can have the most immediate success because his offense will put up points and make the Bulldogs competitive. But history tells us there's a ceiling with Leach's teams. They don't compete for championships. They're always dangerous but only occasionally a real threat to win a division. In 18 seasons at Texas TEch and Washington State, he failed to reach a bowl game just twice. He also never won an outright division title in the Big 12 or Pac-12. He finished tied for first twice, finished second once, tied for second twice. Otherwise, in the other 13 seasons, his best finish was third. Two seasons of double-digit wins in 18 seasons. Track record says he'll consistently have MSU in a bowl game, but rarely give Alabama or LSU much of a scare. 
    Lane Kiffin has more upside - and far more potential to fall flat on his face. He's a proven recruiter. He'll attract star players to Oxford who normally wouldn't sign there. He's got an exciting offense that will score points. 
    Drinkwitz doesn't have a track record as far as a program-builder. He had great success at App State, but that was one season of success with  players he didn't recruit. Can he recruit and develop players at the level it takes to become a threat in a division with three teams loaded with more resources, both in terms of recruiting and finances?
    I like Sam Pittman a lot. Great O-line coach. Proven recruiter. No way to know how he'll do running his own show in Fayetteville. 
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