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.

    Merry Day-After-Christmas, Mizzou chatters. We're back on the beat today and hopefully you've all had a great holiday and ready to shower the chat with questions over the next couple hours.
    Looking ahead, what is your assessment of Taylor Powell as 2019 QB? He had a decent spring game, and in Troy game he completed 6-of-8 passes subbing for injured Kelly Bryant. But, OC Dooley basically had Powell run out the clock and didn't get to show much vs. Troy.

    Against Arkansas, his 4th quarter touchdown throw to J. Nance after Ark jumped offsides was first class. (Yes, he also threw 3Q interception).

    Still, much 2019 mention of Powell has been dismissive. How do you see his abilities?
    I wouldn't say the talk about Powell has been dismissive, but I'm just not sure his ceiling is as high as the other competitors for the job. From what I've seen of Connor Bazelak, I'd give him the edge as far as pure passing abilities. I saw more from  him in his few drives at Arkansas than I've seen from Powell in his live action. Bazelak will be behind with the knee injury, but from the sample sizes we've seen, I'd say he has more upside long-term. Then there's Shawn Robinson, who by all accounts is a better and more accomplished runner than any QB on the roster. If he can develop into proficient passer in Drinkwitz's system, then he's the easy choice as the QB with the highest ceiling among the three viable 2020 contenders. I'm not discounting Brady Cook by any means, but he'll be just a true freshman. With more experienced guys on the roster I can't really envision Cook being a serious contender for the job unless there are multiple injuries. 
    Powell will have a shot in spring practices. Drinkwitz is familiar with him from their Arkansas connections. (One of Drinkwitz's closest friends was Powell's coordinator in high school). It'll be an interesting spring for a lot of reasons, but especially with a QB competition.
    Which players have you seen enough of (or at least heard enough of) on the football squad to think that they may emerge, next year - players who average fans may not be thinking of?
    Tough question because as bad as this team was playing down the stretch, if there was someone under-the-radar the coaches thought could help them win they would have been on the field. Odom was searching for answers by season's end. He played Ish Burdine significant snaps at Arkansas - and the freshman hadn't played in a game all season because of a preseason shoulder injury.
    On offense, I would think anyone with a pulse will get a shot to impress the new staff. As long as Rountree and Badie both return, I don't see anywhere they're not the top two backs - unless Elijah Young shows up ready to contribute immediately.
    Barrett Banister is this team's  best returning receiver, but the new staff might find ways to unlock some of the potential we've seen from receivers like Knox, Scott and Massey. 
    Defensively, the core of the 2019 team that was on the field for the bulk of the season will be back other than Jordan Elliott, DeMarkus Acy and Khalil Oliver/Ronnell Perkins. I'm interested to see what Darius Robinson and Isaiah McGuire do in their second years in the program along the D-line. Someone has to step in at the strong safety/strongside linebacker hybrid position. Stacy Brown might be the leading candidate. Who's the third corner to push Jarvis Ware and Christian Holmes?  
    TCU is being put on probation for 33 players being paid for work they didn’t do. One article I read said the probation lasts through Dec 19, 2020, which means the FB team is presumably eligible for a bowl game after 12/19/20. I don’t know how many MU athletes were involved in the tutoring scandal causing MU’s one year ban from postseason play, but like the comparison with Miss St., it seems like MU got a more severe probation than their peers.
    There are some critical differences in TCU's case and Missouri's case. One, academics vs. illegal benefits. The NCAA generally comes down on harder on academic cases. 
    Part of the reason Missouri's sanctions were stronger than similar cases - including the TCU situation - was because the NCAA didn't give Missouri credit for detecting the violations that were taking place. The tutor confessed her violations. Had she not blown the whistle on herself, MU might have never discovered the violations or launched its own investigation with the SEC/NCAA. On the other hand, in the TCU case, one of the mitigating factors in TCU's favor was "prompt self-detection and self-disclosure of the violations." Mizzou was credited for self-disclosure but not self-detection. Had it been, MU might have avoided a postseason ban.
     
    Dave, thanks for the great job that you do. Does Kim Anderson get enough credit for recruiting Geist, Mitchell Smith and Reed Nikko? Reed Nikko gives Coach Martin great minutes and Mitchell Smith is coming into his own. Do you thing Barry Odom has another head coaching job in his future? Also any updates on Andy Hill and Cornell Ford?
    No updates on Ford or Hill. Hill had been at MU for just under 25 years, so it would be in his best interest to stay employed at MU in some capacity for his pension/retirement. We'll see if anything develops there. He'd be a great asset for the Tiger Scholarship Fund or in some advisory role for the football staff/athletics department, if that's something that would interest him. 
    If Arkansas has a strong defense over the next couple years, then yes, I'd expect Odom to get another shot to be a head coach. No telling where or when that will happen.
    As for Anderson getting credit, sure, he recruited those guys, but I'd say you give Martin's staff credit for developing them and, most of all, credit the players for sticking it through and becoming effective players regardless who recruited or coached them. Anderson was paid to recruit and coach players, so I don't think he needs any special thanks or credit for bringing in players who can function on the court under different coaches. 
    Hi Dave - Merry Christmas!
    There seems to be a lot of hand wringing by some fans over the lack of offense from CM’s team, but it seems like most of the struggle comes down to missing open shots. I’m not a huge fan of the high ball screen with Tilmon, but the reality is our half court sets get people open looks but we just aren’t knocking them down. What are your thoughts on our offensive struggles?
    Missing shots and careless turnovers. The offense was more than good enough on Saturday when you had playmakers finding ways to attack the Illinois defense (Dru Smith, Pinson) and then other players showed some toughness and strength on the boards getting putbacks and keeping possessions alive. Pinson is coming into his own in the halfcourt. We saw Smith at his best on Saturday, making good decisions with the ball, finding favorable matchups to exploit. Pickett is so good without the ball in his hands. He was the first player Underwood mentioned in his postgame press conference. You don't find many players who embrace playing without the ball like Picket does, the slashing and cutting and finding open space in the defense. When those things are clicking - and you're playing air-tight defense - you can win some games, even if your leading scorer can't buy a bucket.
    Do you have a Shawn Robinson comparison? Does Drink use a lot of RPO?
    I'm not ready to make any kind of comparison on Robinson. Let's see what he looks like in spring ball. He's not the tallest QB. Not a rocket arm. But he's fluid in and outside the pocket. Seems to put good touch on the ball. 
    On Drinkwitz's offense, yes, lots of RPO.
    Is the MBB team a tourney team? The big dance that is!
    Right now they're not, but they can build the credentials to get there if they play like they did Saturday. A win at West Virginia would be huge next month. WVU is much better than most expected. There should be some potential road wins in the SEC that would be valuable for MU's Net ranking. At Mississippi State, at South Carolina, at Texas A&M, at Vandy. In case you haven't noticed, other than maybe Auburn, nobody's running away from the field in the SEC. And Auburn hasn't played much of a schedule. If the tourney was being seeded now, Kentucky probably wouldn't be in the mix. Who knows, maybe Mizzou can in in Lexington in nine days. The league has had a rough nonconference, which could mean one of two things for Mizzou:
    1. There are more winnable games in SEC play than anyone might have imagined.
    2. The league is bad enough it won't get many teams into the NCAAs. 
     
    I have to give credit to HCCM and the Mizzou players for a great plan and execution of that plan in beating the Illini last Saturday. I thought Illinois would bury the Tigers with their two big men, Miz played a swarming defense that produced the victory. Now the big question, with at Kentucky and home games vs Tennesee and Florida coming up, is does this team have it in them to come up with a victory or two especially with 2 homes games? Evansville won at Rupp Arena. KY has lost 3X, TN 3X and FL 4X. I know their losses were not to Charleston Southern,.
  • I didn't think I'd say this a few weeks ago, but Missouri can win at Rupp. Will that happen? I wouldn't bet my 401K on it, but UK is 2-2 against KenPom top 120 teams with a loss to Evansville, No. 201. This will probably be a typical Calipari team that's much better in February and March than December and January, so maybe the Tigers are catching UK at the perfect time. After that, MU catches Tennessee and Florida at home. Splitting those two games would be a solid start. If MU could somehow start 2-1 in the SEC, then that would be enormous for this team considering how bleak things looked against Charleston Southern. That said, I wouldn't bury MU if it starts 0-3 - but you've got to win most of your SEC home games if you're going to climb back into the NCAA discussion.
  • Davie's Delight a recruiting question. How much does Drink have to bring in more recruits? I googled the transfer portal list and gosh by golly its loaded. Much more talent in there than I would have imagined.
    Missouri will explore the transfer portal, but are there that many realistic quick fixes for the 2020 team? Drinkwitz has said he's looking to sign 7 to 10 players for the Feb. 5 signing date. They want a couple O-linemen, a couple D-linemen, a defensive back and "a touchdown maker." I took that as meaning a instant-impact receiver. This team could obviously use a couple of those. As poorly as he played in 2019, Albert O was a touchdown maker when he was playing to his potential. Nance was a solid receiver this past year. MU needs someone to replace that production.
    Next year's schedule is much tougher than this year and this year was dreadful (with a good roster) and ended up 6-6. Realistically, do you see 6+ wins at all for this team with a different QB and coach?
    Why do you think it's tougher? I certainly don't.
    You trade a home game vs. Ole Miss for a road game vs. Mississippi State. That's marginally more difficult. 
    You still have to play Florida and Tennessee, who were better than MU in 2019, but now you play them on the road. Tougher in 2020 - but were already plenty tough in 2019.
    South Carolina is spinning its tires. That's a road game in 2020 but still a game Mizzou can win. 
    Kentucky and Vandy come to Columbia. Both were losses in 2019. Both should be easier games in Columbia in 2020.
    Arkansas is at home. An awful team at home on the road or on Mars. Still, probably an easier game in Columbia than Little Rock, at least in theory. Georgia is at home. A great team at home on the road or on Mars. 
    Then you've got three noncon home games vs. Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan and Louisiana-Lafayette. The latter two are bowl teams this year. Louisiana is a really good Group of Five program. Better than Troy but not by a huge margin. Still, I'm not sure Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan and Louisiana is all that more difficult - on paper - than SEMO, West Virginia and Troy. 
    Then you trade a Week 1 game at Wyoming for a Week 6 game at BYU. Tougher game next year. Not incredibly tougher.
    So, if we're already counting Georgia, Florida and Tennessee as losses ... I'd go with Vandy, Arkansas, Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan and Louisiana as wins. That leaves you four toss-up games: South Carolina, Mississippi State, BYU and Kentucky. I don't shudder at the thought of winning six or seven games against that schedule. If you hired the right coach and you've got an SEC QB on your roster, MU should be in a bowl in 2020.
    How about Tilmon’s thunder dunk of a missed Tiger shot vs Illinois? That’s more like what I thought they might be getting when he signed with Mizzou. I’d like to see more of that as conference play starts.
    It was a great play ... but he's clearly playing hurt. He came out for the second half with a considerable limp. Martin said he was considered "questionable" before tip-off with a foot injury that's been bothering him for a while. But he insisted on playing. He's got a sore wrist, too, and seemed to aggravate whatever's bothering him on a blocked shot in the first half. Some rest here leading up to conference play should be good for the big man.
    Men's BB is only going to lose Reed Nikko after this year but I'm guessing there's a transfer coming up soon or after the season, which would open up a scholarship. Any rumors from inside the program about that?
    Nope. I don't speculate on that. If there's news to report, I gladly will report it.
    Have you seen Elijah Young's highlight video? I realize those are just clips of his big plays but they averages like 60 yards per carry and 6 Points per carry.
    Yes, impressive playmaker for sure. Let's see him do it against an SEC defense before we declare him ready to unseat Rountree or Badie. But new head coaches find a way to get their guys involved in the mix if they're close to being ready.
    Still thinking about the jobs Mitchell Smith and Reed Nikko did against the Illini.
    They both played really well. Smith was on the floor for 35 minutes, far more than he's ever played in a college game and more than anyone else for either team Saturday. I wouldn't have expected that when I walked into the arena.
    Is it beginning to look like Tray Jackson, Mario McKinney and Parker Braun will not be in the regular rotation in conference play?
    Never say never when it comes to Martin's rotations. A year ago this time you might have thought the same thing about Pinson. His minutes were very sporadic at the start of conference play. Then he started the last  nine games. This is not uncommon for a team struggling to find answers and an identity. When things get tight, Martin puts the guys on the floor who he trusts most. At the beginning of the year he talked about playing with a deeper bench, but he never made any promises. He's going to roll with the players he believes gives them the best chance to win.
    It seems like MU hoops players are really enjoying playing defense. The offense is what it is, but I think the 3 ball will begin to fall once everyone gets more accustomed to the deeper 3 line.
  • They better enjoy playing defense because it's the thing they do best. That's what Martin is hoping this group accepts and embraces. They can be an elite defensive team if they play at that level every game. He made the point after the game, the Boston Celtics paid Marcus Smart $50 million because he loves playing defense and he's among the best in the NBA - not because he can score. I think once this team fully realizes the results and rewards of playing at that level maybe then it can become a more consistent thing with this group.
    Does the transfer portal ever close? Would it be OK to assume that if a player shows up and begins second semester classes that he - at least for now - is planning to stay, at least through spring practice?
    Putting your name in the transfer portal just means you're open to being contacted by other schools and you intend to transfer. But theoretically it doesn't mean you've officially left your team. Now, some head coaches might look at it differently and wouldn't consider keeping a player around if he puts his name in the portal, but that goes against the purpose of the rule.
    Whether it's based on game performance or skill set, does Tilmon look like a player that the NBA would be interested in right now? Somewhat like Josey and Crockett in FB, would he consider leaving early anyway and playing overseas?
    I'm not sure what he's thinking right now, only what he told me over the summer - and he sounded like someone who wants to/needs to start earning money for himself and his family. Does that mean he'd be willing to play overseas next year? Not sure. When we talked about the topic, he was talking about the 2019-20 season, back when he was still planning to explore his NBA draft stock. At the time it was NBA or bust. But could that change for the 2020-21 season? Possibly. But it's still early enough that he doesn't have to commit one way or the other. He's not fully healthy right now. That's obvious. Let's see how he plays over the next couple months. Then it's a topic definitely worth visiting.
    Since the o-line digressed last season, any rumors as to who might get the job that is still open?
    I haven't heard anything substantial on that front. Clearly it won't be Drinkwitz's O-line coach at App State. Shawn Clark is the new head coach back in Boone, N.C. Drinkwitz hopes to have his final two position coaches hired by Jan. 6. 
    Most of Drinkwitz's outside hires have a connection to Auburn when he coached there in 2010-11. Jeff Grimes was the O-line coach at Auburn at the time and he's currently the offensive coordinator at BYU. Doubtful he'd leave an OC job to go back to being a position coach. 
     
    Still think Tilmon is gone after this year? I know he has some personal issues that would induce him to leave but performance wise, he doesn’t look ready.
    Touched on that earlier. I really don't know what he's thinking on that right now. I wouldn't think he's done enough to earn a spot in the 2020 draft, but you can make a lot of money playing the sport outside of the NBA.
  • Any names for the last two coaching spots open that jump out at you? Texas' last WR coach is out there. Doubt Chip Long would accept something less than an OC role, but you have to make that call, right?
    Chip Long has done some good things in his career, but has never been an offensive line or receivers coach, so I'm not sure he's what this staff needs right now - assuming those are the two spots Drinkwitz needs to fill. Luper could coach the receivers instead of running backs. 
    OL coach Jack Bicknell Jr. was not retained at Ole Miss. Drew Mehringer was not well liked at Texas from what I've read. Not sure he's the best hire for this job right now. 
    In case you haven't answered this, yet, anything deeper on Zac Woodfin? It seems that position has a bigger impact than it did, a generation ago (unless I'm just misreading how important Pat Rice seemed to be).
    Woodfin is Mizzou's new strength coach, officially hired today. He's been at Kansas for the last few years. Was thought of highly enough by Les Miles to remain in position after KU's last head-coaching change. I don't know much about him beyond what's in his bio. Drinkwitz talked a lot Saturday about the importance of that role because of all the time he'll spend with the players - but that's true at every program.
    How essential would you say the combined February and then next year's recruiting class will be for Coach Drink? It seems that in today's world of short attention spans and short leashes for coaches, a trend line could be set that will go a long way to determine Drink's success at Mizzou.
    Getting good players is always important, but this class won't make or break the future of the program. Mizzou is financially committed to Drinkwitz for the foreseeable future. A first-year coach at Missouri isn't going to sign a top 20 class. The hope is that one transition recruiting class won't stand out as a lost year for recruiting and that a handful of these players contribute as productive starters at some point.
    Any plans for Coach Drink to counsel with GP on a regular basis or as needed?
    I think he would be a great resource, for any coach.
    I think there will be a line of communication on an informal basis, which is healthy for Drinkwitz and the program. I don't think you'll see Pinkel have any official capacity. He's committed to his foundation and doesn't want to get back into coaching.
    I haven't really read anything about the impact (or lack of impact) that Coach Ofodile (sp.?) made this past year. Not only with coaching duties, but with recruiting?. Was he a good coach or was his hire more of a favor due to his connection to Odom?
    I think he's a good coach. I'd give him credit for developing Parker into a more well-rounded tight end. Can you blame him for Albert O's struggles? I don't know if that's fair. He didn't teach him to drop passes and commit penalties. Just knowing Ofodile I would think he'd be a good recruiter. He's smart. He knows the game. He's got an engaging personality.
    Dave: How do you see cooperating with the NCAA about infractions playing out in the future given the success of the UNC approach, i.e. deny, deny, fire whistleblowers, etc, and the failure of the Mizzou approach? I mean UNC took a scorched-earth approach and came out unscathed. Why would any blueblood program ever cooperate with the NCAA?
    I don't know if we'll see a real trend develop. Different institutions and different ADs will take different approaches based on their fear/confidence when it comes to working with the NCAA. The new negotiated resolution option for cooperating with the NCAA toward agreed-upon sanctions could be a game-changers in terms of allowing both sides to reach a more appealing end game. Mizzou probably would have gone that route had it been available before its ruling was first announced in January.
    Good afternoon Dave. What are your feelings about Coach Drink dismissing longtime guys such as Andy Hill & Cornell Ford? Wise to move on and start anew or might Coach D end up regretting his decision to do away with veteran guys like that who had considerable knowledge of what it's like to coach at MU and their recruiting contacts, etc?
    I think a new head coach should be allowed to make his own hires and bring in the right people and not keep people around just for the sake of longevity. I could understand why any new coach would want to hold onto either Hill or Ford. They've put in a combined 43 years on the Mizzou staff. But I also see the value in adding some new energy into the program. You can't run a multi-million program just based on feelings and nostalgia. If Drinkwitz didn't believe those coaches fit what he believes he needs on this staff, then it's his program to run the way he sees fit.
    What do you think about Jay Bilas's point that any time there is a whiff of impropriety surrounding an athlete, the athlete is suspended immediately while investigations take place, and yet the same is not true for coaches? I never thought of it that way, but it's true. For goodness gracious, multi-offender Bruce Pearl never lost one second of his coaching time while one of his assistants was being arrested by the FBI!
    I agree with Bilas on that one. For the most part, the coaches get the benefit of the doubt and aren't punished until proven guilty. The opposite is true for players in many cases. It's a system that's rigged to protect the millionaires and punish the "amateurs."
    We're out of time this week. We'll do this again next week in a whole new year. Thanks for taking part.
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