Mizzou sports with Dave Matter

Mizzou sports 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. SEC season has arrived and there's plenty to discuss with the Gamecocks visiting Columbia West on Saturday. Let's get to it.
    How are the SEC players of the week determined? I noticed the Special Teams award went to the Arkansas placekicker. I think it said he kicked 2 field goals (54 & 22 yards) and a few extra points. I think Arkansas won by more than a field goal so he didn't win the game for them. How are those accomplishments better than what Tucker McCann did for Mizzou? Didn't he have 3 field goals all over 40 yards, did a great job punting and made all but one of his extra point attempts? Did the missed extra point eliminate him from the honor?
    I'm not 100 percent certain here, but I can't recall too many times - maybe zero - when a player gets an individual honor after playing an FCS team. It might be an unwritten rule by the league that you can only win an weekly honor if your team plays a fellow FBS team. If so, I agree with that rule. Not that McCann didn't have a great game, but I'm all for discounting stats from games against FCS opponents. I understand why teams play those games but I wish they would stop.
    The QB from SC torches Alabama for some 300+ yards last week. Is he that good or did he find a flaw in Sabin’s team? Worried he’ll make mince meat out of our secondary this week.
    I'm not sure I'd use the word torch. Hilinski threw the ball 57 times. He averaged only 5.7 yards per attempt. That's not a good average. It was an impressive performance for a freshman against that defense, but Alabama's pass defense has been an issue going back to last year. The Tide's final three opponents in 2018 all threw for 300 yards, too: Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson. And they all averaged far better per attempt than South Carolina last week: 7.5, 8.3, 10.8. Bama is young at linebacker. The short stuff was working for South Carolina in the middle of the field - until it was time to punch in a touchdown. Hilinski is talented and gutsy. He'll make some plays for South Carolina on Saturday - and he's got a great receiver in Bryan Edwards. This has the makings of a high-scoring game - unless Missouri's defense is as good as it's looked the last two weeks.
    What was the scoop on the OL changes for last week's game? Were the 2 new starters (White and Borom) having struggles, or maybe a case where backups playing better and internal competition won out?
    You can spin the changes as a luxury because you have the depth to play seven guys instead of five ... or it's a red flag that the two new starters you settled on after all the spring, summer and fall practices aren't good enough. Odom and Dooley took the former approach: The changes were a reflection of depth, not a huge area for concern. Cook and Lawrence had better weeks of practice - and on the surface it appeared they blocked pretty well against SEMO. White and Borom also played Saturday, so it's not like they've been completely banished. Eventually the staff would like to see one player at each spot solidify his role. 
    To me, the more interesting O-line situation to monitor on Saturday is left tackle. Yasir Durant came out of the SEMO game with a neck injury. He practiced Tuesday but was held out of some drills. Odom insisted that Durant will play and start, but it's worth watching early in the game to see if he's at his best. If not, expect to see White get some looks at left tackle and Lawrence stay at right tackle. 
    I didn't see the original or replay of the targeting call that was reversed. Was it truly not targeting? Seems like they almost always confirm it after watching the replay and eject the player.
  • Gillespie was able to get his head out of the way right before contact. Good call to overturn the original call. The NCAA revamped the rule so that the threshold to confirm targeting penalties is greater this year for the replay review. You're going to see more overturned.
  • Bball question - How many recruits do you think Coach Martin willing to take this year? Should have 1 open scholarship, with very good chance Tilmon might decide to move onto a professional career. Think he wants 2 for sure? Think he'd take only 1 or go for 3?
  • Two at the minimum with a chance for three. These numbers game always work out the way the staff wants them to work out. I wouldn't fret over it now. If there's a player they think they can sign that will make them better but they need a spot to open, they'll find a way to make it open.
  • hey Dave, any chance Dawson downing gets some more work? Good size, good speed and runs HARD
  • He's clearly the team's No. 3 back and Odom is on record saying they can't get through the full season with just Rountree and Badie carrying the ball from the running back position. There might be less of a need for another option the more they Bryant gets involved in the run game - if that happens - but Downing is a player they trust will produce and handle the job if they give him a series or two.
  • Odom seems to be far more verbal this year with his praise of fans coming to the games. Do you think he has truly noticed some difference from past years or is it a calculated attempt to get more fans in? Either way, I hope it works and it's nice to hear since I go to all of the games and stay until the end.
  • He is fully engaged in drawing more fans to games. He gets it. He is well aware of the attendance decline, not just at Mizzou but nationally. Obviously that decline has been sharper at Mizzou since 2015, and Odom understands that. Each of the last two Fridays he's gone on campus for a pep rally to talk to students about coming to the game. He saluted the students who stuck around for the entire SEMO game late Saturday night. 
    You can view this cynically and point out that Odom is the only SEC head coach with a contract clause that pays him a bonus for season ticket sales. But more important, he understands the value of having a sold-out crowd at his back on game days. He understands the financial implications of having a bigger crowds at home games. A lot of coaches distance themselves from those factors and just coach their team, but Odom sees the big picture. 
  • Mizzou fans really showed up at the SEMO game which was refreshing to see considering the caliber of the opponent. What is your take on that? Were fans just excited to watch the team play?
    This ties into the last question. I think Odom deserves credit for engaging more with fans, especially the students. 
    Also, the 6:30 pm kickoff time helps. Fans just don't like the early starts. 
    Beating a Big 12 team the previous week helps.
    Selling alcohol helps.
    Combine it all together and you're seeing bigger crowds. 
     
    Durant missing any time Sat would definitely hurt. He's been a tremendous player and probably a surprise for most, from the day he won the starting job over a more experienced player to just how good he's been. Thoughts on his NFL potential? Can he be the best OL we've sent to the league in quite a while (think Morse has had the best NFL career of any OLmen from Mizzou in past decade or so?) ?
    Don't count out Justin Britt, a longtime starter for Seattle. Morse and Britt are the head of the class. 
    Durant will get a shot at the NFL. He's been a very good pass protector. He's got the size. I'll be interested to see how he tests at the Combine. Is he an elite athlete for that position? He gave up the fewest pressures of any SEC tackle last year. 
    With guys like Doyle and Edwards committing then backing off (days later for Edwards) AND cuonzo being the beneficiary of similar flips - is there any discussion in the sports journalism circles of coming up with a new name for "committing" prior to signing? I went through high school without social media nor any outside interest in my athletic abilities so I don't take issue with teenagers being flaky - just curious if the journalism brain trust can come up with something different. Maybe "pledge" or "provisional consideration"?
    I would be in favor of a new term, but "commitment" is such an established part of the recruiting lexicon that I don't think it'll ever change. Other than in-state or local recruits, I've given commitments less coverage over the last year. Because what does it really mean? Media coverage plays a role in what's become the recruiting hype machine, and so much of the decision-making process now seems to be about the announcement, the tweet, the video ... and not the actual long-term decision of where to spend the next four years.
    I read that the California legislature sent the governor the a bill allowing California colleges to pay athletes for certain things like using their image. I don’t know if the governor signed thge bill but if he does that would give Cal colleges a big advantage in recruiting top athletes who theoretically could earn more than just a scholarship. Trends like this take 5 years or more to reach the midwest from either coast. Of course the NCAA is against this since somebody else would be getting money that they would rather put in their pockets. Have you heard anything more about this law?
  • Yes. I've read plenty. Personally, I hope this is a tipping point for college athletes to see some of the revenue that instead goes toward the coaches, the ADs, the facilities, etc. The NCAA's amateur model is antiquated and the world is waking up.
    I saw recently that Fenway Park will have a bowl game soon. Don’t know if it’s this year or next but it makes me wonder why St. Louis doesn’t do something like this. We have this big dome stadium with a lot of open dates in December. Because of our central location, it would be a short trip for many Big 10 schools, Big 12 and even SEC schools. I know that the are so many bowl games now that sometimes they have to let sub .500 teams in, but with so many favorible factors it seems to me that it should be looked at.
    The St. Louis Sports Commission has looked into the possibility for years. They've scouted bowl sites around the country. Landing a bowl requires a lot more than just wanting to host a bowl. You need a facility. You need a sponsor. You need conference tie-ins. Using the Dome as a host site would be a tough sell. An outdoor bowl game at Busch isn't the easiest sell either for late December. 
    Then there's this: Do we really need more bowl games? 
    What is going to be Mizzou's biggest challenge this week against South Carolina? Also, do you see the Tigers covering the spread Saturday?
    My prediction will be on the site tomorrow. I picked South Carolina to win this game in our preseason projections. But I'm not sold on the Gamecock defense. I've got a feeling both teams will move the ball. Which defense makes the more impact plays and consistent stops? Which defense do you trust more? Can Mizzou's front seven control the line of scrimmage and force South Carolina into uncomfortable passing downs? That's the key factor in the game, in my opinion. Put Hilinski in third-and-long situations then rush him and confuse him with pressure. But that doesn't happen if the Gamecock running game has a big day.
    I don’t know if MU will defeat SC Saturday, but home games against middle of the pack SEC teams would be a must win game to me. Given they will probably never win vs Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia, they need to defeat middle ranked SEC at home like Mississippi, Miss St, Kentucky an South Carolina. A home loss to any of these teams would be dissappointing.
    I'd say that's the key to every Mizzou season. Beat the mid-tier teams, play the elite teams competitively. If you do that every year, you're a consistent winner. And consistent winners in major conferences build and build and build ... to the point where some years you'll knock off the elite teams. And when you do that, you can have a special season.
    Dave - Will minimizing or eliminationg turnovers for Mizzou on offense be the major factor for them to win on Saturday? Thnak You
    Turnover margin is always a factor in every game, so, yes. Under Odom, Mizzou is 2-14 when it loses the turnover margin and 19-6 when it wins the TO margin or breaks even.
    Since it was mentioned earlier - what are your thoughts on Bryant's use in the run game? Is it a game flow thing or think could be more designed runs as we get into SEC play? Know he came to Mizzou to work on passing and maybe early schedule allowed more opportunity to throw, but I'm surprised he hasn't had a few more runs. Probably no wrong answer, as he's been a good passer so far and don't want to risk injury with too many runs.
    We've only barely seen that page in the playbook. Here's what Derek Dooley said when asked this week about the QB running game: "Well, we didn't really use it last game (against SEMO). We ran a couple against West Virginia. We'll see. I think it's kind of … I don't know. He does some things on his own. We have some plays where he reads it. We have some plays where he runs it. So it's just a matter of doing it."
    Translation: Bryant will run the ball on three different kinds of plays. 
    1. A pass play that breaks down and leads to a scramble. He's done that a few times.
    2. An RPO (run-pass option) or zone-read option where Bryant reads the defense and decides whether to hand off, throw it or keep the ball himself. He's done that a few times.
    3. A designed QB run. We've see that a few times but not much lately. 
    Once the Tigers get into more competitive games I think we'll see more of 2 and 3. He can break tackles and has very good speed. He's going to make plays with his feet. But he also showed against West Virginia that he's not going to give up on pass just because he's flushed out of the pocket. Maybe a younger Bryant settles for a scramble when the rush gets to him in the backfield, but he did a great job of keeping his eyes up and looking for receivers downfield. Those kind of plays will be the ones NFL teams like - because there's no such thing as a consistently clean pocket on Sundays. 
     
    Dave - Do you think the key player for the offense so far this year has been Tyler Badie?
    No. He's good, but I'd put Bryant and Rountree ahead of Badie.
    I thought with Bryant coming here we would get a heavy dose of KB running the ball. Do you think we are trying to keep him upright for the whole year or are intentionally vanilla to surprise GA and FL later in the year?
    The way SEC East QBs are dropping like flies, I understand the hesitancy to put the ball in his hands in the open field multiple times per game. Like I wrote earlier, I think we'll see him run the ball more in SEC play. But, don't forget this: He came to Missouri to enhance his NFL draft stock as a passer. Dooley sold him on that - and Dooley has been impressed with his production in the drop-back passing game. He's not Jalen Hurts - and he didn't come to Missouri to become Jalen Hurts. He wants to prove he can be an effective pocket passer.
    I don't see Tilmon getting drafted this year (maybe not ever given the changing pro game for centers) - maybe you disagree. You wrote an article in late spring/early summer indicating that he has a daughter and wants to make some money which is why he's looking at professional options. Other than that, why does it seem like the general consensus is that he'll be gone next year? D-league salaries are about equal to what you can make as a bartender - is that really enough motivation to leave college a year early?
  • Tilmon has a three-year old son. He wants to play professionally, and it wouldn't surprise anyone if he makes the leap after this season, provided he's healthy. For some players, three years in college is enough - and a fourth year isn't going to drastically enhance their NBA draft stock. If he's not a first-round pick with a guaranteed contract after his junior year, it's doubtful that he'd become a first-round pick with a guaranteed contract after his senior year. So, in that case, there's a real incentive to stop playing the game for free and start making some money, whether that's in the NBA, the D-League or overseas.
    I'm sure someone has sent in a variation of this question but, as I slave over a hot computer, here at work, I can't go through them all ... so, my thought is that this is the game where we find out what this Mizzou team really has - we should find out if they are mediocre, good or very good. My guess is good, with a tight, 30 - 27 win (could be even a higher score - I think we'll move the ball but I'm worried about stopping an offense that is better than most thought, coming in).
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