April 8, 2010

2010 Tiger mailbag: Eighth edition

Each Thursday, PowerMizzou.com publisher Gabe DeArmond will answer questions from subscribers in our Tiger Mailbag. This feature will allow for longer, more in-depth answers than you may get on the message board on a daily basis. To have your question in next week's mailbag, send an email to Gabe at [email protected] On to this week's inquiries:

Fshdom asks: Ratliffe, Pressey, McKnight, and Okonji. If you could order the likelihood of landing these four, what would the order be?

Pressey, McKnight, Ratliffe, Okonji. And there's not a big difference between the last three from what I can gather (as far as Missouri's chances of landing them, not speaking to the talent of each here). I think Matt Pressey is a near slam dunk to be a Tiger. It may happen as soon as Friday. I think Missouri lands probably one of the other three...and maybe two. Ratliffe is the only one that has scheduled a visit. However, I also don't think I'd term Missouri the leader based on what I'm hearing-and I can only go on what I'm hearing because I haven't been able to get Ricardo to answer the phone for the last two weeks. I think McKnight will visit and I think they have a very good shot. With Okonji, Missouri is hamstrung by him having just one visit left to take. If he had two and would visit both Missouri and Marquette, he'd be second on this list behind Pressey. But there is no guarantee he ever comes to campus, so I have to put him fourth for now, though I think the competition is not as stiff for him as it is Ratliffe and McKnight.

TnMizzou asks: So far in spring practice the defense has won the day more often than the offense. Does this appear to be more due to better defense, different defensive scheming, or more a lack of efficency on the part of the offense, in otherwords are WR's open and getting missed or dropping balls or are they getting covered better? (Please don't give the easy answer, some of both)

Well, you took away the obvious answer, so I won't say both. But you're probably not really going to like my answer either. I have said for a few years that Missouri fans don't realize how good they have it. Gary Pinkel opens 45 practices a year to the media. We get to see every single play they run for 45 practices. There are VERY few other programs in America where that is the case. Ask Kansas or Kansas State fans to name the starting lineup in August and all they're going to have is guesses because the access to practices is incredibly limited. Meanwhile, Missouri fans can name the entire three-deep because Pinkel allows people like Pete and myself phenomenal access to the program. However, the downside to that is that fans (and I don't say this in a derogatory manner, just trying to be truthful) have so much information that they often read far too much into it. I mean, there are 100 players on the field and we can't watch them all. So while we can identify some guys that jump out, we might miss some guys that are having really good camps due to either simply not having enough eyes or not having the benefit of re-watching practice film and also not knowing as much about the technical aspects of football as the coaches. In other words, the coverage we (and others) provide gives you a lot of insight into the team. But it is by no means a definitive picture. And when you're watching practice, the thing is, if one side is good, that means the other side was bad. Ideally, the first team offense would drive up and down the field on the second team defense and the first team defense would hold the second team offense without a first down. But short of that, it's just really tough to make too many judgments when you're watching a team play against itself day in and day out. If I had to guess, I'd say the defense is better than last year and the offense still has some growing to do between now and the season opener.

mjkstl asks: When is the last time Mizzou had an 8 year string of stellar QB play as we have just seen with Brad,Chase, and Blaine?

Easiest question so far. Never. Think about it. In 2005, everyone said, "How the hell is Missouri going to replace the best quarterback it has ever had? If they couldn't win with Brad Smith, they're sure not going to win without him." Three years later, everybody said, "Brad Who? How the hell is Missouri going to replace the best quarterback it has ever had?" Now, all Gabbert has done is pretty much ensure he will be the highest drafted quarterback ever to come out of Missouri, whether that's in 2011 or 2012. Certainly draft status doesn't ensure team success and Gabbert will have to prove he can do on the field what Daniel did in 2007, but the position is in good shape. And with James Franklin waiting in the wings, in five years, you might be asking, "When is the last time Mizzou had a 13 year string of stellar QB play as we have just seen?"

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