Category Archive: TOP STORIES

  1. The Sports Wire: David Lesky

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    David Lesky of Pine Tar Press joined BK on The Sports Wire to discuss the Kansas City Royals’ series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Is Mike Moustakas going to get back on track? Is this the real Salvador Perez? And who does David want to see in the playoffs the least?

     

    All of that and more in our conversation with David Lesky.

     

    PODCAST: 

  2. The Sports Wire: Field Yates

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    Field Yates of ESPN & ESPN.com joined BK on The Sports Wire to discuss the latest on Sheldon Richardson’s status. Plus, Field gives some projections for Travis Kelce, Todd Gurley, and the AFC West race in general.

     

    All of that and more in our conversation with the always entertaining Field Yates.

     

    PODCAST: 

  3. The Big Show: Chris Cotillo

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    Chris Cotillo of SB Nation joined Matt and BK to discuss the Royals & Cardinals at the deadline. 

  4. MIZZOU FOOTBALL POSITIONAL PREVIEWS: LINEBACKERS

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    Over the coming weeks, BK will preview each and every position on the Mizzou football roster in anticipation for the 2015 season. Our positional previews began in the first week of July, and we will continue until August 1st – which just so happens to be the first week of Mizzou football camp. See what we did there?

    We began our previews with the quarterbacks, running backswide receiverstight endsoffensive tacklesinterior offensive line & defensive line. We’ll continue today with the linebackers.

    BK’s Projected Depth Chart:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    SAM Linebacker:

    1. Donavin Newsom, RS Jr.
    2. Clarence Green, RS Sr.
    3. Grant Jones, RS Fr.
    4. Franklin Agbasimere, Fr.

    MIKE Linebacker:

    1. Michael Scherer, RS Jr.
    2. Brandon Lee, RS Fr.
    3. Eric Beisel, RS Soph.

    WIL Linebacker:

    1. Kentrell Brothers, RS Sr.
    2. Joey Burkett, RS Soph.
    3. Roderick Winters, RS Fr.
    4. Terez Hall, Fr.

    I’m not sure the Tigers have a better unit, from top to bottom, than their linebackers. Scherer and Brothers started in every game for Mizzou in 2014, and both are back this season. Newsom and Green both saw significant time at SAM in 2014, and they’re both back as well. The only player from the linebacker rotation that doesn’t return is Darvin Ruise – and he was only involved in 20% of Missouri’s defensive plays.

    The Good:

    Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Michael Scherer played 90 percent and Kentrell Brothers was involved in 77 percent of Missouri’s defensive snaps in 2014, according to David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune. The Tigers return five of their top six linebackers, and Brandon Lee could take some of the wear-and-tear off of Michael Scherer if he develops as planned.

    There’s a lot to like about this unit. They’re big, strong, fast and physical. I’m not sure what more you could ask from a linebacking core, honestly. Brothers was listed on the AP All SEC second team last season, and Scherer has the potential to be an All-SEC linebacker before he graduates. The thing I really like about this unit is their versatility. Brothers, Scherer and Newsom can each perform at a high level against the pass, against the run, or on a blitz. They also bring unique abilities to the field. Scherer is a downhill player that smacks the hell out of the opposition. Brothers has that ability, but he relies on his athleticism to work his way through traffic to drag down the ball carrier. At SAM, Newsom and Green are out there to lay the wood. They’re both good in coverage, but they can also rush the passer – something I expect to see more of from the Missouri linebackers this year.

     

    The Bad:

    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    If you’re going to rip the Missouri linebackers, you’re reaching. The biggest critique that I could make is that I don’t know how they will perform without All SEC-type performers along the defensive line. The Tigers had Shane Ray (1st round pick), Markus Golden (2nd round pick), Harold Brantley (Pre-Season All SEC before his accident that will keep him sidelined for 2015) and Lucas Vincent (signed with the Titans) along the defensive line in 2014. None of them will be back in 2015.

    Some will tell you the defensive line will be fine. And it very well may be. But replacing players like Ray, Golden and Brantley is not an easy task. In fact, it’s darn near impossible. I will be interested to see how that impacts the linebackers’ performance. My guess is it won’t hinder them too much. But it will have an impact.

     

    Realistic Expectations:

    I think it’s fair to expect Mizzou’s linebacking core to be among the top units in the SEC. The Tigers have the depth, they have quality front-end starters, and they have crazy athleticism within the linebacker unit.

    In 28 starts over the past two years, Kentrell Brothers has 192 tackles and 11.5 TFL. Michael Scherer added 113 tackles and 3.5 TFL in his 14 starts last year. Barring injury, I would be surprised if both don’t end up with at least 100 tackles and 5 TFL in 2015. That means they would both average roughly 8 tackles per game. That sounds about right, especially with Missouri losing so many key defensive linemen.

    Beyond the stats, I expect the linebackers to have a bigger role within the defense this season. As has been stated many times before, Barry Odom played an attacking 3-4 defense in his time at Memphis. I don’t think Mizzou will go to a base 3-4 this season, but I do expect there to be elements of that defense implemented. Within that defense we will likely see the linebackers blitzing far more often. Brothers and Scherer will have no trouble with this role – both have shown to be quality blitzers in their time at Missouri.

    Overall, this is a great unit. There’s a lot to be excited about. The Tigers have great linebackers for the present in Brothers, Scherer and Newsom, but the wave of the future is also coming along with Brandon Lee, Eric Beisel and Joey Burkett. If you’re looking for a name to watch for the future – it’s Terez Hall. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to skip the redshirt this season, but the 2015 Mizzou signee has some ridiculous high school film.

  5. The Big Show: Jim Bowden

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    Jim Bowden of ESPN Insider joined Matt and BK to discuss the latest trade deadline news and notes, including a breakdown of why the Royals had to go all-in, and what this time of the year is like for MLB General Managers. All of that, plus – Jim has a hunch on who will be the Cardinals’ next first baseman. Find out who that is in today’s podcast.

    PODCAST: 

  6. The Big Show’s 20 Most Important Mizzou Players in 2015

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    Matt and BK are ranking the 20 most important Mizzou football players going into the 2015 season. Each day we will update this list with the podcast from that day, and eventually we will get to the top of the countdown – the most important player for Mizzou’s success in 2015.

    No. 20: Ian Simon, S, RS SR. 

    Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

    Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports


    (more…)

  7. The Big Show: Booger McFarland

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    Booger McFarland of the SEC Network joined Matt and BK to explain why he still has some questions about Mizzou’s defensive line and wide receivers. Plus, Booger’s thoughts on the Mizzou secondary, the offensive line, and the player Booger calls the best in the SEC at his position.

    All of that and more in our conversation with former SEC defensive lineman & current ESPN college football analyst, Booger McFarland.

    Interview Highlights:

    “When you get to CoMo, you start hearing about ‘Mizzou Made’… I was blown away by that.”

    “Harold Brantley could have been the defensive player of the year in this conference. That’s how good he is.”

    “I know Coach Kul is an outstanding coach… But football is not about x’s and o’s. It’s about Jimmy’s & Joes.”

    “I would love to see (Josh Augusta) shed a few pounds… The stamina factor could be something that hurt him a bit.”

    “I think (Aarion) Penton & (Kenya) Dennis are the two best corners that Pinkel has had since he’s been there.”

    “You’re going to see a different style of defense at Missouri this year because of the lack of defensive ends.”

    “My pick in the SEC East this year is Tennessee… I think Tennessee has fewer question marks.””Ever since I’ve watched Mizzou, they’ve won because of their WRs & DE’s… I just want to see those positions step up.”

    “I think Evan Boehm is the best center in the SEC.”

  8. Which NFL Team has the best skill players?

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    A study conducted by a group of Harvard students has been getting a lot of attention for predicting the Dolphins to make the Super Bowl. That study used a statistic called “approximate value” to determine each team’s overall strength. The stat can be flawed, particularly when measuring the effectiveness of offensive linemen, but overall, it’s rather useful. To put it in simple terms, it AV is the NFL’s version of “wins above replacement.” It’s not a perfect comparison, but that’s what AV is trying to judge – how much more valuable is player X than player Y? For more information on AV, click here. 

     

    By using AV, we can compare players within position groups to see who has the most “value” to a team. For some perspective – the top AV scores in 2014 belonged to JJ Watt (22), Aaron Rodgers (21), DeMarco Murray and Russell Wilson (19).

     

    I’ve often wondered who has the best skill position players in the NFL, and after reading more about this stat, I think it gives us a solid baseline. With that in mind, I went through and picked out the top quarterback, running back, wide receiver and “flex” player (RB/WR/TE) for each team based on each players’ 2014 AV. By combining the four players’ approximated values, I came up with the “total added value”. This total value should reflect the overall strength/weakness of the teams’ skill players.

     

    *Note: These rankings do not include rookies for obvious reasons. Free agent players have been placed on their 2015 team – ex: Jeremy Maclin is included on the Chiefs’ total AV, Jimmy Graham is included in the Seahawks’ total AV.

     

    Below is each team’s total approximate value:

    Team Total Added Value
    Packers 71
    Broncos 56
    Steelers 55
    Seahawks 49
    Patriots 43
    Chiefs 43
    Colts 43
    Cowboys 41
    Falcons 41
    Lions 40
    Ravens 39
    Eagles 39
    Giants 39
    Bears 39
    Bengals 38
    Dolphins 37
    Saints 37
    Panthers 34
    Chargers 32
    Texans 32
    49ers 31
    Vikings 28
    Jets 24
    Redskins 24
    Bucs 23
    Bills 22
    Titans 22
    Rams 21
    Cardinals 21
    Browns 21
    Jaguars 18
    Raiders 17

     

    Some interesting tidbits:

    1) The Packers have, by a wide margin, the best skill players in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers had the top AV among all NFL QB’s, Jordy Nelson had the highest AV of all NFL WR’s and Eddie Lacy was third in AV among NFL RB’s in 2014.

     

    2) The Packers and Broncos are the only teams that had a player with a 10+ AV rating at QB, RB, WR and Flex. The Chiefs, Ravens, Patriots and Steelers are the only teams that had three players out of their QB, RB, WR & flex position with an av rating of 10+.

     

    3) The Raiders and Jaguars are the only teams in the NFL that did not have a QB, RB, WR or TE with an AV >5.

     

    4) The Chiefs and Falcons are the only teams ranked in the top 10 that did not make the playoffs in 2014. The Panthers and Cardinals are the only teams that made the playoffs in 2014 that are ranked outside of the top 15.

     

    5) Division winners in 2014: Broncos, Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Packers, Seahawks, Cowboys & Panthers. Best QB/RB/WR/Flex teams within each division: Broncos, Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Packers, Seahawks & Falcons. The Panthers are the only team that won their division that did not have their division’s best group of offensive skill players.

     

    Here are the QB’s, RB’s, WR’s and Flex players that I used for each team.

     

    AFC East:

    1) New England Patriots (43)

    • Tom Brady (16)
    • LeGarrette Blount (3)
    • Rob Gronkowski (12)
    • Julian Edelman (12)

     

    2) Miami Dolphins (37)

    • Ryan Tannehill (14)
    • Lamar Miller (11)
    • Greg Jennings (6)
    • Jarvis Landry (7)

     

    3) New York Jets (24)

    • Ryan Fitzpatrick (9)
    • Chris Ivory (5)
    • Eric Decker (7)
    • Jace Amaro (3)

     

    4) Buffalo Bills (22)

    • EJ Manuel (2)
    • Fred Jackson (7)
    • Sammy Watkins (6)
    • Charles Clay (5)

     

    AFC North:

    1) Pittsburgh Steelers (55)

    • Ben Roethlisberger (15)
    • Le’Veon Bell (17)
    • Antonio Brown (16)
    • Heath Miller (7)

     

    2) Baltimore Ravens (39)

    • Joe Flacco (14)
    • Justin Forsett (12)
    • Steve Smith (10)
    • Bernard Pierce (3)

     

    3) Cincinnati Bengals (38)

    • Andy Dalton (11)
    • Jeremy Hill (10)
    • AJ Green (9)
    • Mohamed Sanu (8)

     

    4) Cleveland Browns (21)

    • Josh McCown (4)
    • Terrance West (4)
    • Dwayne Bowe (8)
    • Lavelle Hawkins (5)

     

    AFC South:

    1) Indianapolis Colts (43)

    • Andrew Luck (16)
    • Frank Gore (7)
    • TY Hilton (12)
    • Andre Johnson (8)

     

    2) Houston Texans (32)

    • Brian Hoyer (8)
    • Arian Foster (10)
    • DeAndre Hopkins (10)
    • Alfred Blue (4)

     

    3) Tennessee Titans (22)

    • Charlie Whitehurst (4)
    • Bishop Sankey (4)
    • Harry Douglas (8)
    • Delanie Walker (6)

     

    4) Jacksonville Jaguars (18)

    • Blake Bortles (5)
    • Denard Robinson (4)
    • Allen Hurns (4)
    • Julius Thomas (5)

     

    AFC West:

    1) Denver Broncos (56)

    • Peyton Manning (16)
    • CJ Anderson (10)
    • Demaryius Thomas (16)
    • Emmanuel Sanders (14)

     

    2) Kansas City Chiefs (43)

    • Alex Smith (13)
    • Jamaal Charles (11)
    • Jeremy Maclin (10)
    • Travis Kelce (9)

     

    3) San Diego Chargers (32)

    • Phillip Rivers (12)
    • Brandon Oliver (6)
    • Michael Floyd (7)
    • Antonio Gates (7)

     

    4) Oakland Raiders (17)

    • Derek Carr (5)
    • Roy Helu (4)
    • Michael Crabtree (5)
    • Andre Holmes (4)

     

    NFC East:

    1) Dallas Cowboys (41)

    • Tony Romo (15)
    • Darren McFadden (4)
    • Dez Bryant (14)
    • Jason Witten (8)

     

    2) Philadelphia Eagles (39)

    • Mark Sanchez (7)
    • DeMarco Murray (19)
    • Jordan Matthews (6)
    • Darren Sproles (7)

     

    3) New York Giants (39)

    • Eli Manning (12)
    • Shane Vereen (8)
    • Odell Beckham, Jr. (11)
    • Rueben Randle (8)

     

    4) Washington Redskins (24)

    • Robert Griffin III (5)
    • Albert Morris (6)
    • DeSean Jackson (8)
    • Pierre Garcon (5)

     

    NFC North:

    1) Green Bay Packers (71)

    • Aaron Rodgers (21)
    • Eddie Lacy (16)
    • Jordy Nelson (18)
    • Randall Cobb (16)

     

    2) Detroit Lions (40)

    • Matt Stafford (12)
    • Joique Bell (8)
    • Calvin Johnson (9)
    • Golden Tate (11)

     

    3) Chicago Bears (39)

    • Jay Cutler (11)
    • Matt Forte (12)
    • Alshon Jeffery (9)
    • Martellus Bennett (7)

     

    4) Minnesota Vikings (28)

    • Teddy Bridgewater (9)
    • Matt Asiata (6)
    • Mike Wallace (8)
    • Jarius Wright (5)

     

    NFC South:

    1) Atlanta Falcons (41)

    • Matt Ryan (15)
    • Devonta Freeman (4)
    • Julio Jones (14)
    • Roddy White (8)

     

    2) New Orleans Saints (37)

    • Drew Brees (16)
    • Mark Ingram (8)
    • Marques Colston (8)
    • Brandin Cooks (5)

     

    3) Carolina Panthers (34)

    • Cam Newton (12)
    • Jonathan Stewart (6)
    • Kelvin Benjamin (8)
    • Greg Olsen (8)

     

    4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23)

    • Mike Glennon (4)
    • Bobby Rainey (5)
    • Vincent Jackson (7)
    • Mike Evans (7)

     

    NFC West:

    1) Seattle Seahawks (49)

    • Russell Wilson (19)
    • Marshawn Lynch (13)
    • Doug Baldwin (9)
    • Jimmy Graham (8)

     

    2) San Francisco 49ers (31)

    • Colin Kaepernick (12)
    • Reggie Bush (4)
    • Anquan Boldin (8)
    • Torrey Smith (7)

     

    3) St. Louis Rams (21)

    • Nick Foles (5)
    • Tre Mason (5)
    • Kenny Britt (6)
    • Jared Cook (5)

     

    4) Arizona Cardinals (21)

    • Drew Stanton (5)
    • Andre Ellington (5)
    • Michael Floyd (6)
    • Larry Fitzgerald (5)
  9. MIZZOU FOOTBALL POSITIONAL PREVIEWS: DEFENSIVE LINE

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    Over the coming weeks, BK will preview each and every position on the Mizzou football roster in anticipation for the 2015 season. Our positional previews began in the first week of July, and we will continue until August 1st – which just so happens to be the first week of Mizzou football camp. See what we did there?

    We began our previews with the quarterbacks, running backswide receiverstight endsoffensive tackles & interior offensive line. We’ll continue today with the defensive line.

    BK’s Projected Depth Chart:

    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

    Right End:

    1. Charles Harris, RS Soph.
    2. Spencer Williams, RS FR.
    3. Rocell McWilliams, RS FR.

    Defensive Tackle:

    1. Rickey Hatley, RS Jr.
    2. Terry Beckner, Jr., FR.
    3. Tyler Hanneke, RS Jr.

    Noseguard:

    1. Josh Augusta, JR.
    2. A.J. Logan, RS Soph.
    3. Evan Winston, RS Jr.

    Left End:

    1. Marcell Frazier, JR.
    2. Walter Brady, RS FR.
    3. Justin Grava, RS Jr.

     

    Mizzou returns one start (total) along the defensive line; Charles Harris started against Indiana in place of an injured Markus Golden. With that said, it would be unfair to classify Charles Harris, Rickey Hatley and Josh Augusta as newcomers. All three had important roles in 2014, with Hatley and Augusta involved in the rotation at defensive tackle, and Harris serving as the primary backup to Golden.

    The Good:

    Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

     

    There is a ton of potential along Missouri’s defensive line. Charles Harris is a hugely athletic defensive end that showed flashes of greatness in 2014. Josh Augusta is a crazy talented defensive tackle (did I mention that he was a 330 pound wide receiver in high school?). Rickey Hatley was quietly productive in his limited playing time last year. After that, there are a plethora of newcomers that could step up including JuCo transfer Marcell Frazier, and a trio of redshirt freshmen defensive ends.

    The other thing that Mizzou has going for it is that the Tigers have one of the best defensive line coaches in the country in Craig Kuligowski. Coach Kool groomed Ziggy Hood, Sheldon Richardson, Aldon Smith, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam, Markus Golden and Shane Ray into elite level college players. If there is elite potential in any of Mizzou’s current players, Kool will get it out of them.

    The Bad:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    It’s pretty simple. Mizzou lost a lot. Shane Ray, Markus Golden, Lucas Vincent, Matt Hoch, Marcus Loud and Harold Brantley combined for 291 tackles, 67.5 tackles-for-loss and 34.5 sacks. Those five, alone, had more tackles for loss than Kentucky or South Carolina, and they would have ranked 5th in the SEC in total sacks in 2014.

    The Tigers return none of their regular starters from 2014. Charles Harris, Ricky Hatley and Josh Augusta are the only returning players that were part of Missouri’s defensive line rotation in 2014.

    Fans will point to the resolve of Missouri’s defensive line under Coach Kool, rightly so, but he’s never had to thrust first-year players into the starting lineup the way he will in 2015.

    Here’s some perspective from the past:

    2014, Markus Golden & Shane Ray: Golden backed up Michael Sam the year prior, racking up 6.5 sacks. Ray backed up Kony Ealy in the previous year, adding 4.5 sacks to his resume.

    2013, Michael Sam & Kony Ealy: Sam & Ealy split time with one another the year prior, seeing time in 12 games. Sam was the team’s sack leader (4.5), Ealy added 3.5 of his own.

    2012, Brad Madison & Michael Sam: Madison was a junior and started for the Tigers in the year prior. Sam was a rotational player in 2011, and was splitting time with Ealy in 2012.

    2011, Jacquies Smith & Brad Madison: Madison entered his junior season after spending a year splitting time with Aldon Smith. Jacquies Smith was entering his 2nd year as a starter.

    2010, Jacquies Smith & Aldon Smith: The Smiths entered the season as the starters, but Madison also played a lot due to Aldon’s injuries. Jacquies’ experience heading into the season was as Aldon’s primary backup in 2009.

    2009, Brian Coulter & Aldon Smith: Coulter was a senior, and backed up Tommy Chavis the year prior. Smith was a sophomore, after having played extensively in his redshirt freshman season.

    2008, Tommy Chavis & Stryker Sulak: Chavis and Sulak were both starters the year before.

    2007, Tommy Chavis & Stryker Sulak: 2007 was Sulak’s 2nd year as a starter, and Chavis came into the year as the starter after splitting time inside & outside in 2006.

    2006, Brian Smith & Stryker Sulak: Smith started the year prior, Sulak split time with Xzavie Jackson in 2005.

    Add it all up, and the Tigers have not had a defensive end start in the past decade without at least being involved in the D-Line rotation the year prior. That’s exactly what will take place this season, regardless of the name on the back of the jersey. I’m not saying they can’t be good, it’s just difficult to project exactly what “good” will look like. Would that be six sacks for Missouri’s starting left end? Or 12? Because that’s obviously a massive difference.

    Realistic Expectations:

    It’s hugely difficult to project this Missouri defensive line. It was going to be difficult even before Marcus Loud was dismissed, or before Harold Brantley’s car accident that resulted in injuries that will keep him out for the entirety of the 2015 season. Without Loud or Brantley, it becomes damn near impossible.

    Charles Harris should be good. I wouldn’t even be all that shocked if he finished the year with double-digit sacks. A Mizzou defensive tackle has not finished the year with more than five sacks in the past decade – not even Sheldon Richardson or Ziggy Hood. So I think it’s fair to assume that will remain true for Josh Augusta, Rickey Hatley or Terry Beckner, Jr.

    With all of that said, I think it’s fair to say the Tigers will not match their sack total (44) from 2014. To be fair, no SEC team has out-performed Missouri’s 44 sacks since Tennessee back in 2000. Instead, I could see the Tigers finishing with somewhere around 30 sacks in 2015.

    I could see Charles Harris finishing the season with 10-11 sacks, the starter at left end could finish with 5-7 sacks and another 10-15 sacks could come from some combination of the Tigers’ defensive tackles (Augusta, Beckner, Hatley) and linebackers (Brothers, Scherer & Newsom).

  10. High School Football is Back on KTGR!

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    Class 5 State Champion Battle High School is joined by Hickman and Rock Bridge in a full season of award-winning Columbia Public Schools Football on KTGR. (more…)