Erin Unerstall covers the Southeast Missouri State football team for the Southeast Missourian. She joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to preview the upcoming matchup between Mizzou and SEMO.
Erin Unerstall covers the Southeast Missouri State football team for the Southeast Missourian. She joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to preview the upcoming matchup between Mizzou and SEMO.
Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel joined Matt and BK on The Big Show in preparation for MU’s opening week matchup against Southeast Missouri State.
The Drew Lock and Terry Beckner Hype Train: I have to be honest with you guys – the Drew Lock and Terry Beckner Jr. hype train is real. Drew Lock will be the team’s number two quarterback, barring something drastic. And Terry Beckner Jr. will be a major part of the defensive tackle rotation.
Junior linebacker Michael Scherer lit up when he was asked about Beckner. “I’ve watched some of the things that Terry (Beckner Jr.) does, and I just look at him like, ‘how do you…’ He’s just that good.” Scherer said. “I don’t know how he does half the things he does. But he makes it to the ball like every play. He’s very talented. It almost looks like the offensive linemen are trying to block a ghost.”
Evan Boehm lines up across from Beckner every day in practice. He couldn’t help but laugh when Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou asked what kind of player Beckner could be. “Kid’s going to be a stud, man,” Boehm said. “Kid’s good. Kid’s really good. He’s got quick hands, great feet. He’s going to be a special player this year for us, and he’s going to be a special player for Missouri over the next couple years.”
As is expected, defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski tempered expectations a bit, saying that Beckner has shown promise, but there is still work to be done. “Terry Beckner is a very good prospect,” Kuligowski said. “He’s very quick, very strong and very large. And, at times, very lazy. If we can get the very lazy part out of him, we’re going to have someone that’s pretty good.”
And then there’s true freshman Drew Lock, who passed up redshirt sophomore Eddie Printz and redshirt freshman Marvin Zanders on the depth chart to become the Tigers’ backup quarterback. There’s no denying Lock’s talent. He was the top performing quarterback at all three scrimmages. He’s the highest rated quarterback to commit to Missouri since Blaine Gabbert. The expectation level is that he will be the Tigers’ next quarterback to play in the NFL. But I’m not sure how many fans expected him to come in right away and take the backup quarterback spot. That was a bit of a surprise.
“This has nothing to do with Maty,” Pinkel said. “If something happens to Maty – the first thing you ask yourself – is who is the best player to put in? We really do that for every position. That’s what we do. That’s the reasoning behind it.”
“Anybody that can help the team, we’re not going to redshirt,” Pinkel said. “That’s pretty simple. The team is the number one priority. At every position.”
Pinkel said there will be a plan in place as to how the team will utilize Lock in each game.
“We’ve done it many different types of ways,” Pinkel said. “A series in the first half, a series in the second half. Most recently, we did it with James Franklin a little bit with (Blaine) Gabbert. We did it a little more-so with Chase Daniel (when) Brad Smith (was here), going way back. And it’s ideal to do that. We’ve had some success doing that here. I did it a little bit at Toledo, I did it a lot at Washington – because we had a bunch of NFL quarterbacks… And that worked out in a very favorable way. It’s something that allows your backup player, if he’s a good player, to play at that position. A lot of things go into that in terms of – how is the game going? And, do you want to interrupt that in the second half? I remember that with Chase. Those are decisions we have to make.”
We’ll see on Saturday how that decision plays out on the field. My expectation would be that Lock gets at least one planned series in the first and second half. And I would suspect he’ll get “garbage time” reps if and when Missouri leads by a significant margin in the second half.
More Freshmen Playing Time: My stance on Missouri’s 2015 recruiting class has not changed. I said in April that this class had the potential to be one of Pinkel’s best. Six months later, the 2015 class has accomplished something that hasn’t been done since 2008; There are eight true freshmen listed on the opening week depth chart, and Coach Pinkel expects all of them to play throughout the season.
Those eight freshmen that will see the field in 2015 are quarterback Drew Lock, wide receiver Emanuel Hall, defensive end Nate Howard, defensive tackles Terry Beckner Jr. and Josh Moore, linebacker Terez Hall, safety Cam Hilton and punter Corey Fatony. Fatony is the only freshman currently listed as a starter, but Hall, Howard and Beckner will all rotate regularly at their respective positions. As previously mentioned, the coaching staff will come up with a plan as to how they want to use Lock.
Quotes of the Day:
1) Gary Pinkel on the decision to bump true freshman quarterback Drew Lock above junior Eddie Printz and redshirt freshman Marvin Zanders on the depth chart:
– “It doesn’t matter if it’s uncomfortable. You have to do what’s right for the team. It’s uncomfortable if you let all of those other things concern you.”
2) Michael Scherer on true freshman linebacker Terez Hall:
– “Kid’s a psycho. He runs around and hits everything… He’s going to be very good on special teams, and hopefully we can get him in on defense a little bit to give him some experience. But he’s going to be a really good player. He runs around fast, and like I said, he’s a psycho. He hits everything he sees. He’s going to help us out this year.”
3) Barry Odom on Terry Beckner:
– “Physically, he’s been blessed with a lot of ability. He’s learned the scheme. He’s been a guy that’s worked. He comes to practice and works his tail off to get in shape and adjust to the speed of the game. There are some things he’s done really, really well. Things a lot of freshmen aren’t able to do. He’s done a really good job.”
4) Barry Odom on Cam Hilton:
– “Cam has playmaking abilities. He’s a smart player. Intelligent. He understands his fit in the scheme – where he needs to be, where he can take a shot, where he can’t. And, more than anything, at that position, you have to protect. At the end of the day, you’re protecting the program at that spot. There’s nobody lining up behind you. It’s a huge accountability within our coverages and run fits.”
1) Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Alec Abeln is listed as the starting left guard on the week one depth chart.
Abeln spent most of the fall as the backup center to Evan Boehm, but the coaches wanted to see how he would perform at left guard in the third scrimmage. Apparently he performed admirably. “They talk about how the best five guys are going to play, no matter what, and I want to play,” Abeln said. “I knew I was going to be the number two center, but I was also working to crack that top five.”
Abeln joins right tackle Nate Crawford as the only first-time starters on Missouri’s offensive line. Unlike Crawford, though, Abeln will have the pleasure of playing between left tackle Connor McGovern and center Evan Boehm. “It’s a huge benefit for me,” Abeln said. “Between those two guys there is probably 70 starts. Just loads of experience. Anyone will tell you that having good help is the most important thing of being a good offensive line, and I’ve got two of the best guys in this league.”
2) Now that the wide receivers have stepped up throughout fall camp,the questions turn to the defensive line.
Coach Pinkel and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski spoke openly and honestly about what to expect from the group that has become known as D-Line Zou. “Look at the defensive ends, for example,” Pinkel said. “Over the past two years we’ve lost a first rounder, two second rounders, a seventh round pick that was a first team All American. We’ve lost some people on that front. That’s as good as anyone in the nation as far as quality players. So we anticipated playing some young players. Fortunately, we have some really good players in this class.”
Coach Kool was asked about his defensive line rotation, and how many players he would ideally like to be a part of it. “I’ve done it where we’ve played four guys; Obviously, that’s not ideal,” Kuligowski said. “I’ve done it where we’ve played six guys, eight guys and 10 guys. It just kind of depends. And sometimes they all play better because we have more guys that rotate. It will be interesting to see. A lot of these guys are very talented. When we recruited them, we thought they were talented. And, luckily, we were right. It will be fun to watch.”
Coach Kool said that the two best defensive linemen throughout fall camp have been Charles Harris and Rickey Hatley. The other two starters that join them along the defensive line are Josh Augusta and junior college transfer Marcell Frazier. Kool said on Monday that Augusta has gotten himself into playing shape throughout fall camp. He also had high praise for Frazier. “He’s a very mature, intelligent kid… He has his vision on success. He wants to be a great football player. He’s going to do what it takes to be a great football player. He hasn’t made a play in a game yet, but so far he’s really had a good camp. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. It was a big area of need for us. It’s great that he came in and was able to get and maintain a starting role.”
3) Charles Harris hears what you’re saying about him.
Take note, sports media. The somewhat unanimous pick to become the next-in-line at D-Line Zou is paying attention to everything that’s written about him.
“I think I’m at 39 (press clippings hanging in my room) right now… From national and local. The most recent one I have is SB Nation’s top 10 defensive ends for the upcoming season.”
Harris said the number one thing he’s been working on is his stand-up rushing, which could be telling as to how he will be utilized in Mizzou’s defense this year. He said he’s made big strides in his run defense, too. As for his personal goals this season, it’s pretty simple.
“Sacks – double digits, of course,” Harris said. “I feel like that’s something that I can do. I feel like it’s something that is going to be done. And why not shoot for the stars and go for the sack record?”
Adam Teicher of ESPN.com joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss Travis Kelce’s injury, the possibility of Fred Williams playing his way onto the roster, and Alex Smith’s deep-ball capabilities.
David Lesky of Pine Tar Press joined BK on The Sports Wire to discuss the Royals’ weird win over the Rays, Yordano Ventura’s recent surge back to the front of the rotation & Mike Moustakas’ hot streak.
8:00 — Opening Monologue… BK breaks down last night’s Columbia High School games, a winning Friday night for the Chiefs & Royals, and a walk-off stinker for the Cards.
8:15 — The Drew Lock Debate… Drew Lock might be Mizzou’s best chance at producing a successful NFL starting quarterback. And I believe it’s in Mizzou’s interest to redshirt Lock in 2015. Allow me to explain.
8:30 — David Lesky of Pine Tar Press… Is Yordano Ventura back to his 2014 self? Which Mike Moustakas is going to show up for the postseason? And is Kris Medlen winning himself a postseason rotation spot?
8:45 — Grantland found five qualities of every college football champion… How many of those five qualities does this Mizzou team exhibit?
8:55 — Best & Worst of the Week… The plane breakup & a parent’s worst nightmare.
9:00 — Mizzou’s Non-Con Schedule Leaves Me Wanting More… The Tigers added Middle Tennessee and Delaware State to their 2016 non-conference slate. Those kinds of games aren’t going to appeal to the masses.
9:15 — Mizzou’s Best Ever Recruiting Class? The Tigers could get more than 10 multi-year starters out of this recruiting class. Does that mean it’s going to go down as Gary Pinkel’s best?
9:30 — Top 3 Most Intriguing Mizzou Home Games… There are two home games that truly intrigue me for this season, but one stands out above the rest.
9:45 — The BK Lounge: Cris Carter Gave Good Advice… It wasn’t the right platform. It might not have been given in a productive manner. But his message was a good one.
Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to put an end to the great debate: Will Drew Lock play this year? Find out Gabe’s stance on the podcast.
Mizzou’s 2015 fall camp has come to a close after the Tigers’ third scrimmage of the fall. That can only mean one thing – yepp, you guessed it – prediction time! I’ll go through each position and predict &/or project what I believe the depth chart will look like when it’s released come Monday morning. Without further adieu…
1) Maty Mauk (6-0 195 RS Jr.)
2) Eddie Printz (6-3 215, RS Soph.)
3) Drew Lock (6-4 205, Freshman)
4) Marvin Zanders (6-1, 185, RS Fr.)
Maty Mauk is the clear-cut starter. There is no question there. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. I wouldn’t be shocked if Drew Lock gets a redshirt. But he’s been so damn good in the three scrimmages open to the media that I also wouldn’t be totally shocked if he’s the de-facto number two quarterback opening the season. By that, I mean if Mauk were to go down for an extended period of time, I’m not sure the staff wouldn’t go with Lock over Printz as the long-term answer.
And then there’s Marvin Zanders, who is a big play waiting to happen. He’s fast as hell and he’s really developed as a quarterback, as well. I don’t think we’ll see a lot of him, but I think the staff could put together a package of him as a “wildcat-esque” quarterback.
1) Russell Hansbrough (5-9 190, SR)
2) Ish Witter (5-10 190, Soph.)
3) Tyler Hunt (5’11 215, Sr.)
4) Trevon Walters* (5’10 200, RS FR.)
5) Morgan Steward (6’0 210 RS Jr.)
6) Chase Abbington (6’2 225 RS Soph.)
The running back position, despite having a lot of “guys”, is still pretty unsettled. Russell Hansbrough is the clear-cut number one. Ish Witter has asserted himself, by default, as the number two option. Behind Witter, though, there are a lot of question marks. Can Tyler Hunt produce in short-yardage situations against an SEC defense the way he does against the Tigers’ defense in scrimmages? I have Trevon Walters as the Tigers’ number four running back, but he’s out until October. Morgan Steward has shown flashes in his first action since injuring his hip last fall, but I’m not sure if he’s back to 100% yet. And Chase Abbington really hasn’t shown much this fall, but he’ll be listed on the depth chart simply because he has already used his redshirt season.
1) J’Mon Moore (6-3 190, RS Soph.)
2) DeSean Blair (6-3 190, RS Fr.)
4) Justin Smith (6-7 200, Freshman)
1) Wesley Leftwich (6-1 200, RS Sr.)
2) Keyon Dilosa (6-3 200, RS Fr.)
3) Emanuel Hall (6-3 200, Freshman)
1) Nate Brown (6-3 205, Soph.)
2) Thomas Richard (6-1 190, RS Fr.)
3) Raymond Wingo (5-11 175, RS Fr.)
There are so many possibilities at receiver. I think the top six are fairly established. J’Mon Moore, Wesley Leftwich and Nate Brown are the starters, if they’re healthy. And that’s no guarantee. Moore has a shoulder injury and has been sitting out of the team portion of practice for a week or so. And Leftwich has a knee issue that seems to be lingering. But, if they’re healthy, those are the three starters. The second group of DeSean Blair, Keyon Dilosa and Thomas Richard also seem to have established themselves. The third group is tough to determine. I would be shocked if Emanuel Hall ends up redshirting. He’s been very, very good. Justin Smith *could* redshirt, but I think a 6-foot-7 receiver could be useful, even if he’s raw. I do believe Ray Wingo is the number three H-receiver. So, there’s that.
I will say this – I don’t think Mizzou has a receiver problem. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I don’t think they have a Bud Sasser on this year’s team, but I think they have a few Jimmie Hunts. It wouldn’t be a shock to me to see Leftwich, Blair, Brown, Richard, and/or Hall finish the year with 40(ish) receptions. I mean – think of it this way – Maty Mauk is going to complete roughly 200 passes this year. That’s going to happen. And someone has to catch those passes. I think Missouri has plenty of receivers that are capable of doing so. I did not believe that before fall camp. Quite an impressive camp for the young receiver corps.
1) Sean Culkin (6-6 245, RS Jr.)
2) Jason Reese (6-5 240, RS Soph.)
3) Kendall Blanton (6-6 250, RS Fr.)
4) Clayton Echard (6-5 260, RS Sr.)
The tight end position is pretty well set for Missouri for the next couple years. It’s Sean Culkin and Jason Reese as the 1-2 combo with Kendall Blanton developing into a rather nice third option if need-be. Clayton Echard will come into the game in some short-yardage situations, too. I’ve said all offseason that Reese is a guy that really intrigues me. He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s a fluid route runner, and he has above-average hands for a pass-catching tight end. I think Missouri’s tight ends could surprise some people this year.
1) Connor McGovern (6-4 300, RS Sr.)
2) Paul Adams (6-6 290, RS Fr.)
3) Mike Fairchild (6-5 295, RS Fr.)
The coaches established late in spring ball that Connor McGovern was the player they wanted as their starting left tackle, and he’s done nothing to change that sentiment since. He’s been solid in fall camp. Paul Adams is listed as the number two left tackle, but I think Malik Cuellar would play left tackle *if* anything were to happen to McGovern. Adams is more of a placeholder on the depth chart – and that’s no shot at Adams, he’s only a redshirt freshman and has done an admirable job of battling with Charles Harris in the team’s scrimmages.
1) Taylor Chappell (6-5 300, RS Sr.)
2) Alec Abeln (6-3 290, RS Soph.)
3) Andy Bauer (6-3 310, RS Fr.)
This could be a spot that the coaches continue to work with throughout the first game of the season. I wouldn’t be totally shocked if Brad McNulty or Alec Abeln split reps with Taylor Chappell against Southeast Missouri State. However, coach A.J. Ricker has noted multiple times that he wants his offensive line to have some continuity, so that could be something he hopes to avoid. Regardless, none of the guys that spent time at left guard (Chappell, McNulty & Abeln) really established themselves. So, I’ll go with the guy that had the most playing time in 2014 – and that’s Chappell.
1) Evan Boehm (6-3 320, SR.)
2) Brad McNulty (6-4 305, RS Sr.)
3) Sam Bailey (6-5 265, RS Fr.)
Evan Boehm and Connor McGovern have been the constants along the offensive line. Brad McNulty is the new addition behind Boehm. McNulty and Alec Abeln are cross-trained at guard and center, and either could fill in along any of the three interior positions if needed.
1) Mitch Hall (6-5 310, RS Sr.)
2) Kevin Pendleton (6-4 315, RS Fr.)
3) Adam Ploudre (6-4 295, RS Soph.)
At first it looked like right guard could be a battle position like left guard, but that position battle quickly ended and Mitch Hall seems to have a stronghold on the starting spot.
1) Nate Crawford (6-5 290, RS Soph.)
2) Malik Cuellar (6-5 300, Jr.)
3) Clay Rhodes (6-5 280, RS Soph.)
Nate Crawford’s assent to the starting right tackle position is not one that should be overlooked. He transitioned from defensive line to offensive line in the spring of 2014. Then he had back surgery in June. But he was ready to go for day one of fall camp, and he has won a starting spot along the offensive line two months later. Pretty amazing, really.
As a whole, McGovern, Boehm, Hall and Crawford seem to be pretty locked in as starters. Left guard is a bit in flux, but it will be one of Chappell, Abeln or McNulty. The primary offensive line backups appear to be Cuellar as the swing tackle with the two guys that don’t win the left guard job backing up the three interior positions. If the Tigers need any players beyond that, something has gone horribly wrong. But the next most reliable players would seem to be Rhodes, Adams and Pendleton.
Left Defensive End:
1) Marcell Frazier (6-5 265, Jr.)
2) Walter Brady (6-3 255, RS Fr.)
3) Nate Howard (6-4 230, Freshman)
Right Defensive End:
1) Charles Harris (6-3 255, RS Soph.)
2) Spencer Williams (6-3 245, RS Fr.)
3) Rocell McWilliams (6-2 240, RS Fr.)
Marcell Frazier and Charles Harris will be Mizzou’s starting defensive ends. That much I’m sure of. Walter Brady and Spencer Williams would seem to be the next two in the rotation. I think Rocell McWilliams is the fifth guy in the rotation, but it’s Nate Howard that’s the real wildcard here. Howard is a true freshman, but he has the size and speed combination that you would want in order for him to get on the field early. I’m not sure if he’s shown enough to avoid the redshirt, but I would like to see him as a part of that defensive end rotation.
1) Rickey Hatley (6-4 285, RS Jr.)
2) Terry Beckner Jr. (6-4 300, Freshman)
1) Josh Augusta (6-4 335, Jr.)
2) A.J. Logan (6-2 300, RS Soph.)
The defensive tackle rotation is set. Josh Augusta and Rickey Hatley will start with Terry Beckner and A.J. Logan as their primary backups. Here’s the rub: who comes into the rotation if someone gets hurt? That’s not a question I have the answer for. Please stay healthy, big guys.
1) Donavin Newsom (6-2 230, RS Jr.)
2) Clarence Green (6-0 220, RS Sr.)
3) Terez Hall (6-2 215, Freshman)
1) Michael Scherer (6-3 230, RS Jr.)
2) Brandon Lee (6-2 220, RS Fr.)
3) Eric Beisel (6-3 225, RS Soph.)
1) Kentrell Brothers (6-1 235, RS Sr.)
2) Joey Burkett (6-2 210, RS Soph.)
3) Grant Jones (6-3 225, RS Sr.)
This might be, top-to-bottom, Mizzou’s best unit. The starters are entrenched, the backups are competent and the third unit is full of promise. Kentrell Brothers and Michael Scherer are among the best linebackers in the conference, which means they’re also among the top linebackers in the country. Donavin Newsom has shown a lot more production throughout fall camp, and he’s always been incredibly athletic. Clarence Green, Newsom’s backup, would start at most SEC schools. He’s outstanding in coverage. Brandon Lee is one of my favorite under-the-radar backups. He has a real chance to be a standout on special teams this year before taking over a starting role in 2016. The only freshman linebacker that I have avoiding a redshirt is Terez Hall. He’s been in with the one’s on special teams. I would be surprised if he doesn’t see the field early & often.
1) Aarion Penton (5-10 185, Jr.)
2) John Gibson (6-0 190, RS Jr.)
3) Finis Stribling IV (5-11 175, RS Fr.)
1) Kenya Dennis (5-11 195, Sr.)
2) Logan Cheadle (5-10 180, Soph.)
3) DeAndre McKenzie (6-1 195, Sr.)
Aarion Penton and Kenya Dennis are the starters. John Gibson and Logan Cheadle are the next two off the bench. That’s about as good as it gets in terms of depth and top-end talent at cornerback. Not much movement on the depth chart.
1) Anthony Sherrills (6-0 190, RS Soph.)
2) Thomas Wilson (5-10 190 Soph.)
3) Tavon Ross (6-0 200 RS Fr.)
1) Ian Simon (6-0 195, RS Sr.)
2) Cam Hilton (6-0 180, Freshman)
3) Cortland Browning (6-1 205, RS Sr.)
A whole lot of talent in the back end of Mizzou’s secondary. Anthony Sherrills is unproven, but the coaches rave about him. Thomas Wilson made some plays as a true freshman in 2014. Cam Hilton has shown enough in fall camp to shed the redshirt and I believe he would be the number two free safety if the season were to begin today.
So, there you have it. That’s my projections. Some are likely to be wrong. Others may be right. I have Drew Lock, Justin Smith, Emanuel Hall, Nate Howard, Terry Beckner Jr., Terez Hall and Cam Hilton skipping their redshirt season. Junior college transfers Chase Abbington and Malik Cuellar are also likely to contribute in 2015. That’s nine players from Coach Pinkel’s 2015 class that could see time right away. That would be a hell of a start.
George Schroeder of USA Today Sports joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to determine how much of an impact Maty Mauk’s overall numbers will have on the Tigers’ success in 2015. Plus, which non-Georgia conference game will be the most important? All of that and more in our conversation with George Schroeder.
David Lesky of the Pine Tar Press joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss how the Royals should attack the final month of the season and whether he would prefer to see Kansas City give Alex Gordon or Ben Zobrist a contract after the season.