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.

    Good (late) morning, chatters and congratulations on making it to game week for SEC football. I'm going to be honest. Back in June and July, I didn't expect there'd be a season this fall. The way things were trending around the country, the conversations I had with ADs from around the country, the prognosis was grim. Thankfully, while there's going to be plenty of bumps along the way, the games are here. Count me in the club that would appreciate more transparency from the SEC when it comes to testing - as Eli Drinkwitz said this week, this is still a public health issue - but I commend the conference for having the guts and the patience to delay the season and still find a way to pull off kickoff. Now, does that mean every team is going to get through a 10-game season? There's no telling. But as of today, there will be games kicking off in 48 hours Oxford, Miss., and Auburn, Ala. That's a good thing.
    Since all CFB players get a "free" year of eligibility, what is the advantage of a player opting out this season (other than COVID safety reasons)? More specifically, what does a player like Maurice Massey gain by opting out this season (other than COVID safety, of course)?
    I can't speak for the players who have decided to opt out. I reached out to all three of the St. Louis players - Massey, Cjay Boone and Jack Buford - and gave them and their families the chance to talk about their decision. Some have replied but no comments yet. I suspect we won't hear from them for a while, if at all. 
    Their decisions could very well come down to contracting and passing along COVID. By opting out, they won't be eligible for games or practices this fall. If they're indeed concerned about contracting the virus at the team facility and spreading it to loved ones, then they have the option to not engage with the team this year while preserving their scholarship and eligibility. I wouldn't say they have any advantage in opting out but if it gives them and their families peace of mind for the next three months, then they can have take this path. 
    A couple of items to pass along that I haven't had the chance to write about yet ... 
    * I learned today that Eli Drinkwitz's Mizzou contract is not finalized. He was hired more than nine months ago but still doesn't have a complete contract on file with the university. (I submitted an open records request for the document this week to have on file and was told it hasn't been finalized through the university.) That's not terribly uncommon, but it's interesting that he'll coach his first game without his deal on file. The university released the general terms of his deal back in December the day he was formally introduced, but the complete deal is still in the works. Barry Odom's most recent contract also took nearly a year to get finalized. Same agent, too. 
    If you missed on Twitter last night, defensive coordinator Ryan Walters confirmed what I had suspected for a while: Mizzou is easing into a 3-4 base defense. Some of the team's defensive ends are now listed as outside linebackers, including starter Tre Williams and backups Sci Martin, Z'Core Brooks, Johnny Walker Jr. and Jatorian Hansford (who's out for the year with an injury. Those players are now called BUCK linebackers in the team's playbook. They'll be stand-up edge players essentially. 
    Here's Walters last night: "It’s evolving to being more and more of a traditional 3-4 with our five DBs out there. That position is now the BUCK, it’s not listed as the end. That’s who we are. We’ve adapted and evolved. Every year it’s a new defense and this is our defense this year."
    Now, if you've passed second grade math you know that 3 plus 4 plus 5 equals 12. What gives? You've got three down linemen on the front, the BUCK linebacker on the outside, plus two inside linebackers, then another edge player in that hybrid safety/OLB role. That's the strong safety in MU's defense. Martez Manuel is the starter. He's part of the 3-4 look - but he's also a defensive back. So, he gives the defense five DBs while part of the seven-man front. 
    I have no issue with players opting out...but the week of game 1? That is a joke.
    Why is it a joke if you don't know their circumstances? I'd rather know more about their situation before commenting one way or the other. Unfortunately, the media learned about Buford and Boone by a team spokesman last night and not from Drinkwitz, so there was no chance to ask the coach about the situation.
    Is Simi still on the team? Saw Drink interview and he mentioned all RBs but Simi. Maybe a slip up?
  • Simi Bakare is on the roster. He didn't make the depth chart. I interpret that to mean he's not among the top four backs on the team: Rountree, Badie, Downing and Young are your running backs this year. Most teams don't go into a game week planning to play more than three or four running backs.
    How much of the players "opting out" has to do with the possibiliity/probability that they weren't going to play much this season? Massey and Buford, for instance, usually aren't prominently mentioned when you write about position battles.
  • Again, without talking to the players or their families about the decision, I can't speculate about their choices - or, I should say, it would be unethical to speculate about a personal decision like that. Depth is a major concern along the O-line and Buford was listed as the co-number two at right guard. He could have been a sprained ankle away from needing to play. So I'm not sure it's fair to say his decision was made purely based on playing time. It's not like he could have expected to unseat Case Cook for the starting job this year. I had been writing for weeks leading up to the season I thought Massey could contribute this year. He's got a lot of tools to be a playmaker at this level. I was mildly surprised he opted out - but he also dealt with an injury in the offseason.
    Good morning Dave,
    Has the SEC made any decisions on the upcoming BB season?
    Length and fan in the stands? Timeline please?
    John L
  • No formal decisions yet from the league. All we know is what the NCAA Division I council passed last week: Practices can't start until Oct. 14. Teams will have 42 days to conduct a maximum of 30 practices. From there, they can begin playing games Nov. 25. Men's teams can schedule 24 regular-season games and participate in one multiple-team event that includes up to three games.
    Is Bazelak game ready coming of the ACL injury? Who is the better passer b/t Connor & Shawn?
  • He's fully cleared to play. He took part in the team's preseason scrimmages. 
    From the small sample size I've seen, Bazelak probably puts more velocity on his passes and might have the stronger arm overall, but Robinson can make the necessary throws and has decent touch on the short/intermediate routes. 
    Don't care who starts -- more interested in what type of QB rotation Coach Drink will use. If Robinson starts and has a hot hand, does Bazelak just sit until Robinson cools down (and vice versa)? Or is it a more traditional rotation, with each guy subbing out every couple of series?
    Drinkwitz has never indicated he's going to have a rotation or play two quarterbacks. He hasn't ruled it out either, but he's never given any signal to what he has planned. He's been extremely careful how he discusses the position, barely saying a word, good or bad, about either guy. Now, would I be shocked if both QBs take snaps on Saturday? Not really. I haven't heard anything that indicates one of them ran away with the job in camp.
  • With a new coach and not having seen a practice thus far, how do you plan to go about making a prediction on the outcome of this game with AL?
    I have a good feel for the talent both teams bring back. I know Alabama's history - on the road, against the SEC East and in season openers. Missouri could very well have another top 15 defense, but this will be the most potent offense the Tigers see all season. I don't have to see 15 Mizzou practices to have a good feel that Alabama's going to put up a bunch of points. The great unknown is Missouri's offense. Can this O-line hold up at all? Can the new weapons at wide receiver move the chains? Is the quarterback/quarterbacks capable of sustaining drives? Alabama has a lot more known quantities than Mizzou at this point.
    Will we see Niko Hea play on Saturday?
    I would think so. There's no clear starter at tight end and three players are listed there with ORs, including Hea.
    Which Frosh & or Transfers are excited to see? I know coach is really high on Keke & Maietti was a great pick up. Ennis and Elijah for youngsters?
    The two wide receiver transfers, Chism and Hazelton, could have a major impact on this team. And if they don't, then this offense is really going to struggle. Because there aren't many other promising options on the outside. Maietti is entrenched as the starter. He's played as much college football as any player in the SEC when you look at his pure number of snaps at Rutgers. I'm not sure he's a major upgrade from Colon-Castillo - they graded out as fairly similar players the last three years - but one thing that stands out about Maietti: Very, very few penalties in three years at Rutgers. Mizzou's O-line got really sloppy with penalties the last two seasons. 
    Rakestraw is going to be under the spotlight immediately having to cover Alabama's Smith and/or Waddle. Huge test for the rookie. Otherwise, I'm not sure how many freshmen play significant snaps on offense or defense. JJ Hester did some good things in the scrimmages, I'm told. Kris Abrams-Draine might not see much action at receiver, but he's the No. 1 punt returner. 
    Like most, I am still worried about the Defensive Line getting pressure on the opposing QB this year. My quickly rising fear though is with the Offensive Line. There is not much depth there especially after the opt outs. It seems that any flurries of injury or Covid could have us cancelling games just because we don't have enough OL to suit up for the game.
  • Having enough O-linemen has to be a concern for this staff. With a full roster MU had 15 scholarship offensive linemen. The team has since lost two to opt-outs, Buford and Robinson. Two more are injured: White and Walters. That leaves the team with 11, assuming none of those 11 are among the seven out because of COVID. That's a first and second unit plus one. 
    Here's your 11 on the depth chart. The SEC cancellation policy requires teams to have seven available scholarship offensive linemen. There's not much wiggle room here. 
    Left tackle
    51 Zeke Powell, 6-5 295 Jr. Georgiana, Ala. (Georgiana/Coffeyville CC)
    64 Bobby Lawrence*, 6-8 320 RSo. St. Joseph, Mo. (Central)
    Left Guard
    72 Xavier Delgado* 6-5 320 RSo. Glendale, Ariz. (Deer Valley)
    70 Dylan Spencer, 6-4 300 Fr. Madison, Miss. (Madison Central)
    73 Mike Ruth, 6-7 320 RSo. Coppell, Texas (Coppell)
    55 Michael Maietti, 6-1 291 Gr. West Orange, N.J. (Don Bosco Prep/Rutgers)
    69 Drake Heismeyer, 6-3 283 Fr. St. Charles, Mo. (Francis Howell)
    Right Guard
    59 Case Cook**, 6-5 300 RJr. Carrollton, Ga. (Carrollton)
    54 Luke Griffin, 6-5 312 RFr. Chatsworth, Ga. (North Murray)
    Right Tackle
    79 Larry Borom**, 6-6 332 RJr. Detroit, Mich. (Brother Rice)
    76 Javon Foster, 6-6 310 RSo. West Bloomfield, Mich. (West Bloomfield)
    Outside of Maieitti, Cook and Borom, the other eight linemen on this list have played the following number of Division I snaps: 
    Lawrence: 78
    Ruth: 56
    Delgado: 46
    Foster: 23.
    That's it. Powell, Spencer, Heismeyer and Griffin have never played in a DI game. 
  • Are Barry Odom & Derrick Dooley still friends???
  • No idea. I haven't kept up with either.
    Living in Houston, we are dealing with trying to get the season started - UofH just had another game postponed at the last minute due to COVID testing/lack of position players. That is at least three in a row - the game at Baylor was after the team was already beginning to travel. I hope we play but it's not a done deal until the coin is flipped.
    Yes, that's why SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said yesterday he's still in "hold-your-breath" mode. SEC teams will be tested again Friday. If enough positive tests come out of those and/or lead to more players in quarantine, Saturday games can still be canceled or postponed. And this process will repeat itself every week this season. 
    I know Drinkwitz said daily testing doesn't give Alabama a competitive advantage, but in one major way it absolutely gives the Tide an advantage: If you're testing every day, your contact tracing efforts don't need to extend back several days. Alabama might not have to quarantine nearly as many players based on close-contact tracing like the other teams in the league will have to do based on its three-times-a-week testing. Credit Alabama for having the resources and the initiative to test its players more often. Yes, it's true, more testing doesn't stop the spread of the virus, but it cuts down on contact tracing - and contact tracing is what's canceling so many of these games, not necessarily positive tests. 
    "Why is it a joke if you don't know their circumstances?"

    Depth chart is released and disgruntled players opt out. Joke.
    Again, you can call it a joke, but that's not my place without knowing the full story. Also, Buford WAS ON THE DEPTH CHART. Also, Massey, Daniels and Robinson all opted out BEFORE the depth chart was released. Robinson worked with the first unit in the spring at one point. I'm confident he would have been at worst a top backup if healthy.
    Apologies if you answered this previously: If a school decided to not play football this season, were the players eligible to transfer with immediate eligibility or did they have to follow the established procuedures?
    To my knowledge, the NCAA hasn't granted immediate eligibility to any players from the conferences that decided not to play.
    I see the uniforms are being revealed tomorrow morning. Any idea as to whether they will come with white flags for the players to wave?? Mizzou is going to lose by 40+.
    Speaking of uniforms, will Mizzou players be sporting is social justice garbage when they take the field Saturday?
    I don't know what Mizzou has planned. The SEC has issued shirts with messages about social justice for teams to wear before games. The NCAA will allow players to wear messages on two places this year: 

    The patch on the front, which most sports already allowed, as authorized by the school or conference, may be a commemorative/memorial patch (names, mascots, nicknames, logos and marks) intended to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes.

    The patch must not exceed 2¼ square inches and must be placed on the front or sleeve of the uniform. While not all team members are required to wear the patch, they must be identical for those who choose to wear them.

    The second location is on the back of the uniform where the player name is traditionally located and, as authorized by the school or conference, will allow names/words intended to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes. The names or words may vary by team member.

    I have cancelled my subscription to the PD. I mostly subscribed for the sports coverage, but the increasingly evident liberal bias within the sports department has forced my hand.
  • I am sorry for your loss. I'd be happy to hear where you've found any liberal bias in my coverage of Mizzou for the print edition and online at STLtoday.com.
  • Doubtful they have white flags or doubtful they lose by 40+?
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