Category Archive: TOP STORIES

  1. The Big Show: Peter Burns

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    Peter Burns of the SEC Network joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss SEC Media Days, the outlook for the SEC and a Mizzou football projection for 2015.

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  2. The Big Show: Kim Anderson

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    Matt and BK caught up with Mizzou basketball coach Kim Anderson at the first annual Boys & Girls Club MFA Oil Chip in Fore the Kids Golf Tournament. Coach Anderson gave an update on what the basketball team is update and the status of Teki Gill-Caesar.

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  3. The Sports Wire: Sam Snelling

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    BK was joined by Sam Snelling of Rock M Nation to preview the 2015 Mizzou basketball team & to take a way-too-early look at next year’s recruiting.

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  4. MIZZOU FOOTBALL POSITIONAL PREVIEWS: THE TIGHT ENDS

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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 backs & wide receivers. We’ll continue today with the tight ends.

    BK’s Projected Depth Chart:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Tight End:

    1. Sean Culkin, RS Jr.
    2. Jason Reese, RS Soph.
    3. Clayton Echard, Sr.
    4. Kendall Blanton, RS Fr.

    This is pretty cut-and-dry. Sean Culkin will be the starter, Jason Reese will be the no. 2 tight end/H-Back, and Clayton Echard will come in if/when the Tigers use a jumbo package as the third blocking tight end. Kendall Blanton is the wild card, though. He showed flashes of brilliance at fall camp last year. The players couldn’t hide how impressed they were by the first-year tight end. And his body could be of use to the Tigers – Blanton is 6’6, 250 pounds. Will he end up seeing the field? That remains to be seen. But the Tigers certainly have depth at the tight end position that they didn’t have as recently as two years ago.

    The Good:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    There’s actually a lot to like about the Mizzou tight ends this year. But, like the wide receivers, much of what the fans are excited about comes with the caveat of an overall lack of past production. For instance – I’m a huge fan of Jason Reese. I think he very well may be the most fluid pass catcher on the team. That includes running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. He’s big (6’5, 250 pounds), he’s fast (reportedly ran a 4.7 40 out of high school), and he looks good catching the football. With all of that said, he has one more catch in his career than I do.

    What I really like about the Missouri tight ends is that each player brings a specific skill set to the position group. Sean Culkin is a converted wide receiver that ran nearly 80 percent of his routes from the slot last season, the highest percentage among SEC tight ends according to Jack Farrell of Pro Football Focus. Add in Jason Reese – a physical blocker that runs smooth routes from the H-Back and in-line tight end position, and you have a great duo that can be in the game at the same time (something I expect to see more of in 2015).

    And behind Culkin and Reese, there are two guys that play very specified roles. Clayton Echard is a monster at 6’6 260-pounds. He’s pretty much exclusively playing the role of an in-line blocker on this team. You’ll see him in goal line and inches-to-go situations in 2015. The fourth tight end is Kendall Blanton, who may or may not see time on the field this year. If he does, it will likely be due to his size and basketball playing ability. The former 2-star recruit flashed at fall camp last year, and could help out in red zone situations.

    The Bad:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    I’m not sure if there’s a ton of “bad” in this group. As I said – I really like the tight ends heading into 2015. If you’re nit-picking, Culkin’s drop rate in 2014 left much to be desired. According to Jack Ferrell of Pro Football Focus, Culkin was targeted 43 times. Of those 43 targets, 26 were catchable. Culkin had six drops on those 26 catchable passes, which was the worst drop rate in the SEC. For a converted wide receiver, that’s simply not good enough.

    Realistic Expectations:

    I would suspect the tight ends will be much more involved in the passing game than they were a year ago, if for no other reason than because the wide receivers are so inexperienced. So, what are the realistic expectations? For that, let’s take a look at what Missouri’s tight ends have done in the past…

    2014: Sean Culkin – 20-174-1

    2013: Eric Waters – 8-72-1

    2012: Eric Waters – 4-27-0

    2011: Michael Egnew – 50-523-3

    2010: Michael Egnew – 90-762-5

    2009: Andrew Jones – 8-43-0

    2008: Chase Coffman – 90-987-10, Andrew Jones – 20-146-0

    2007: Martin Rucker – 84-834-8, Chase Coffman – 52-531-7

    2006: Chase Coffman – 58-638-9, Martin Rucker – 53-511-5

    2005: Martin Rucker – 47-567-1, Chase Coffman – 47-503-4

    2004: Victor Sesay – 31-314-2, Martin Rucker – 19-263-4

    2003: J.D. McCoy – 21-190-2, Victor Sesay – 15-154-3

    2002: Ben Fredrickson – 10-119-1

    2001: Dwayne Blakley – 34-362-4

    As I look at those numbers, two things immediately come to mind.

    1) Missouri’s had some damn good tight ends in Martin Rucker, Chase Coffman and Michael Egnew.

    2) When Missouri didn’t have a guy named Martin Rucker, Chase Coffman or Michael Egnew, the tight ends were rarely involved in the offense.

    Now, here’s the question – does Missouri have a tight end on its roster that is the caliber of Rucker, Coffman or Egnew? They certainly don’t have a Rucker or a Coffman, who both came in and contributed in a huge way from the moment they stepped on campus. But, can one of the Mizzou tight ends become a Michael Egnew-lite? Egnew had 7 receptions his first two years on the roster. He had 140 receptions over the next two seasons. Is 50 catches unattainable for Sean Culkin or Jason Reese? I’m not so sure about that.

    If I had to guess right now, I think Sean Culkin finishes the year with somewhere around 35 receptions for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. I think Jason Reese could evolve into the role that Martin Rucker had in his freshman year, finishing with somewhere around 20 receptions for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns.

    In the end, I’ll project the Mizzou tight ends (as a position group) to finish the season with: 60 receptions, 600 yards and 7 touchdowns. That would mean they average 5 receptions for 50 yards per game. That sounds about right to me.

  5. MIZZOU FOOTBALL POSITIONAL PREVIEWS: THE WIDE RECEIVERS

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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 & the running backs. We’ll continue today with the wide receivers.

    BK’s Projected Depth Chart:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Z-Receiver:

    1. Wesley Leftwich, RS Sr.
    2. DeSean Blair, RS Fr.
    3. Richaud Floyd, Fr.

    X-Receiver:

    1. J’Mon Moore, RS Soph.
    2. Emanuel Hall, Fr.
    3. Keyon Dilosa, RS Fr.

    H-Receiver (Slot):

    1. Nate Brown, Soph.
    2. Thomas Richard, RS Fr.
    3. Johnathon Johnson, Fr.

    This is, by far, the hardest depth chart to project. For one, the Tigers’ top three returning receivers have 10 career catches. TOTAL. That ain’t great. And then you have to project where the freshmen will end up, and how the redshirt freshmen will progress over the summer. It adds up to a hugely difficult projection. Could DeSean Blair start? Sure. Could Johnathon Johnson end up redshirting? No doubt. And it’s possible that I got all three starters correct, but at the wrong spots. I have no idea what is going to happen with the receivers, honestly. But more on that in a moment.

    The Good:

    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    If you’re looking for talent, Missouri has a lot of it. Nate Brown was a huge commitment for the Tigers out of North Gwinnett High School in Georgia. The former four-star recruit came into Missouri with lofty expectations, and the ability – combined with his 6’3″ 220-pound frame – is certainly something that will excite Missouri fans.

    Other than Nate Brown, the Tigers have to love the upside that J’Mon Moore gives them in the passing game.  Moore is a big play waiting to happen. He’s fast, he can get behind defenders, and he plays to Maty Mauk’s strengths – Mauk was the 6th highest rated deep ball passer in terms of accuracy in 2014, according to Jack Farrell of Pro Football Focus. He completed 25 passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. In short, Mauk likes to throw the ball deep – and that’s exactly what Moore can bring to the offense.

    Behind Moore and Brown is a lot of intriguing possibilities, but very little that’s guaranteed. Richaud Floyd and Johnathon Johnson are track stars that come in with the speed to excel in the slot if they’re needed early on; Johnson seems to be more prepared from a sheer size and strength perspective to come in and contribute right away.

    But it’s Emanuel Hall that intrigues me the most as a spectator. Hall is a 6’3, 200-pound wide receiver out of Franklin, Tennessee. He reminds me a lot of Nate Brown in his fluidity and overall feel for the game (based on his high school film). If you’re looking for one freshman that could come in and contribute right away, I would say Hall is that guy.

    The Bad:

    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    This part is pretty easy. I’ll repeat a stat I mentioned earlier – the Tigers’ top three returning wide receivers have a total of 10 receptions in their careers. The experience, and the overall productivity simply isn’t there. And if you’re looking for precedent for a lot of underclassmen wide receivers having success in Mizzou’s offense under Gary Pinkel – well, it’s not there. Only five wide receivers had at least 15 receptions in their freshman year under Gary Pinkel.

    In fact, under Gary Pinkel, only nine Mizzou underclassmen wide receivers have finished the season with more than 20 receptions. Mizzou is going to be hoping that J’Mon Moore and Nate Brown will be able to join that list this season.

    Realistic Expectations:

    HA! Yeah, right.

    I’m can’t give predictions for the wide receivers. Not yet, at least. I need to see more in the fall before I can get any sort of grasp on what this group can ultimately become.

    If you’re looking for what Mizzou underclassmen wide receivers have done in the past, here’s some perspective.

    MizzouWRs

     

    There are some great Mizzou wide receivers on that list. Will any of this year’s underclassmen add their names to the list? That remains to be seen. And I’m not prepared to predict that; at least not yet.

  6. The Big Show: Jack Farrell

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    Jack Farrell does great work for the guys over at Pro Football Focus, and he joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss some Mizzou football. What do the numbers say about Maty Mauk and Russell Hansbrough? Find out in the podcast.

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  7. Mizzou Football Positional Previews: The Running Backs

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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. We’ll continue today with the running backs.

    BK’s Projected Depth Chart:

    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Russell Hansbrough
    2. Ish Witter
    3. Chase Abbington
    4. Trevon Walters/Morgan Steward*
    5. Tyler Hunt

    *Walters and Steward are both currently injured. Walters tore his ACL in late March and Steward has been working his way back from a nagging hip injury since last fall. If either come back, they would likely be the no. 4 running back in front of Tyler Hunt.

    The Good:

    Hansbrough

    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    There’s a lot to like in this group, especially at the top. Russell Hansbrough was hugely under-appreciated for what he did for the Tigers in 2014. The only returning SEC running backs that finished 2014 with more rushing yards per game than Russell Hansbrough are Nick Chubb (Georgia), Jonathan Williams & Alex Collins (Arkansas) and Leonard Fournette (LSU). With that in mind, lets play a name game, shall we?

    Player A: 187 carries, 1,034 rushing yds and 10 rushing TDs

    Player B: 205 carries, 1,084 rushing yds and 10 rushing TDs

    Player A is Leonard Fournette in 2014. Player B is Russell Hansbrough in 2014. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Hansbrough is as talented as Fournette – he’s not. But he was damn near as productive in 2014, and that has to count for something.

    I fully expect Missouri to rely heavily on the running game in 2015. Hansbrough will be one of the best running backs in the conference, and the team has a lot of muscle returning up front, including two All-SEC caliber interior linemen in Connor McGovern and Evan Boehm.

    The Bad:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    As exciting as it is to have the Tigers’ starting running back returning, there’s a whole lot of question marks after that. Ish Witter has 27 career rushing attempts. The remaining Tiger backups are either injured, as is the case for Morgan Steward and Trevon Walters, or are completely new to the offense, as is the case for JUCO transfer, Chase Abbington. That’s not to say the backups can’t produce – I suspect Abbington and Witter will have key roles in the Mizzou offense next season – but it does mean that fans can’t be entirely sure what to expect.

    Realistic Expectations:
    Mizzou has finished the year with a 1,000 yard rusher in each of the past four seasons, and in five of the past seven years. I think it’s fair to assume 2015 will be no exception.

    Here’s where things get interesting – how will the coaches divvy up the carries? Hansbrough’s 205 carries in 2014 were the most by a running back in Pinkel’s tenure at Missouri. Would anyone be surprised to see Hansbrough’s workload increase this year? I certainly wouldn’t. Especially with the lack of proven depth behind Hansbrough.

    Devin West (1998) and Brock Olivio (1995) are the only Mizzou running backs with more than 230 carries in a season in the past 30 years. If I had to guess, I think Russell Hansbrough may be the third to join that exclusive club.

    As for the depth, I expect Chase Abbington to come in and contribute right away. Abbington was a 4-star recruit out of high school, and he gives Mizzou something they haven’t had in the past – a tall, pass-catching option out of the backfield. Think of Matt Forte/Arian Foster-lite. That’s the kind of player Abbington could be for Missouri. Add in a decent dose of Ish Witter, and you’ve got another solid three-headed monster for the Tigers heading into 2015.

    Hansbrough predictions: 238 carries for 1,250 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.

    Other projections:

    • 200 carries and 800 rushing yards for Maty Mauk
    • 100 carries and 400 rushing yards for Ish Witter
    • 75 carries and 350 rushing yards for Chase Abbington
  8. The Big Show: Dave Schoenfield

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    Dave Schoenfield of ESPN’s Sweet Spot Blog joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss the Royals designating Jason Frasor for assignment, the Cardinals’ miraculous first half, and who he feels more confident in making the World Series – the Cardinals or the Royals?

  9. Mauk, Hansbrough & Brothers named to pre-season award watch lists

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    It’s pre-season watch list time! The Maxwell Football Club today announced its watch lists for the Maxwell and Chuck Bednarik Awards.

    Maty Mauk & Russell Hansbrough were named on the watch list for the Maxwell Award. The Maxwell Award is given annually to the College Football Player of the Year. Marcus Mariota won the award last season. Mauk finished the 2014 season throwing for 2,648 yards, 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Hansbrough was quietly one of the more productive running backs in the SEC, finishing the year with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

    Kentrell Brothers has been named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list. The Bednarik Award is given annually to the top defensive player in college football. Brothers finished second in the SEC with 122 tackles in 2014.

    The following is the complete schedule for the 2015 pre-season watch lists:

    Wed., July 8: Mackey Award / Rimington Trophy
    Thurs., July 9: Lou Groza Award / Ray Guy Award
    Fri., July 10: Bronko Nagurski Trophy / Outland Trophy
    Mon., July 13: Jim Thorpe Award
    Tues., July 14: Butkus Award / Rotary Lombardi Award
    Wed., July 15: Biletnikoff Award / Wuerffel Trophy
    Thurs, July 16: Davey O’Brien Award / Doak Walker Award
    Fri., July 17: Walter Camp Award

  10. Kentrell Brothers ranked among the elite at his position

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    Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers was ranked as the 2nd best senior inside linebacker NFL Draft prospect by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. Here’s what Kiper had to say about Brothers:

    “Fits best as a weakside ‘backer at the next level, where he can use his pursuit and cover skills. He led the Tigers in tackles last year with 122.”

    Brothers returns for his third year as a starter in the Tigers’ defense. He broke out in 2014 with 122 tackles, including 5 tackles for loss and a sack.

    Brothers committed to Mizzou as a three-star prospect out of Oklahoma. He was a highly sought-after recruit, but never got an offer from Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, a fact that Brothers readily admits put a chip on his shoulder. Being ranked among the best linebacker prospects in the country for next year’s NFL Draft isn’t a bad way to prove Brothers’ worth to the two in-state schools that seemingly overlooked him.