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September 7, 2011

2011 Tiger Mailbag: 21st Edition

Each Wednesday, PowerMizzou.com publisher Gabe DeArmond and recruiting editor Pete Scantlebury 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 powermizzou@gmail.com. On to this week's inquiries:

mizzou_kev asks: Defense looks really good, offense looks awful. How many games can this team win if we see no improvent on the offensive side of the ball?

With NO improvement, Missouri can beat Western Illinois, Kansas, Iowa State and probably Kansas State (whose offense didn't look so hot either). That's it. But the chances of there being absolutely no improvement is a little bit silly, don't you think?

TNMizzou asks: I'm not trying to bag on Franklin but just want to know you're thoughts since you've seen him more than most. His struggles, do you think it was from not having guys open enough, too quick of pressure, Holding on to the ball a little to long/ too slow on reads, missing the open man, bad mechanics? I know all of these things probably came into play from time to time but overall what area do you think resulted in most of his struggles?

I think the biggest question mark I have with Franklin is his accuracy. We addressed it a few times in fall camp and Franklin even said sometimes when he has a guy completely open, he gets a little too excited and misses the throw. We saw it on a couple throws to Egnew on Saturday. This offense is predicated on pitch and catch and hit the open man. The accuracy is the one thing that I believe has to improve for everything to work.

bgramfan1 asks: Why does Mizzou seem unwilling to stretch the field vertically? Defenses have been creeping up to the LOS and yet we still throw our dink and dunk passing game at them. Are we playing cat and mouse with our next opponent?

I will answer the last question first. I asked Gary Pinkel on Monday if they evaluated last year's ASU tape more than the opener since the Sun Devils played an opponent that they probably expected to beat easily and therefore kept the playbook vanilla. Pinkel said (I'm paraphrasing) that you pretty much do what you do. You don't change your playbook for one game based on trying to hide things. Now, he did say that you're always going to have something new for every game and every team does, but the idea that Missouri is hiding a lot of its playbook doesn't hold a lot of water. Every year, I'm asked that at this time of year, and every year, there's not much to it.

As for stretching the field, I don't have the ability to watch all the receivers on any given play. I follow the ball. I can't tell you if deep routes are being run and guys aren't getting open, if they're open and not being thrown or if they aren't running deep routes. I have no idea. So I guess I can't really answer your question very accurately.

ZouFan27 asks: With all signs pointing towards no Haith firing, why isn't MU backing him?

It's a great question and one I can't answer. I have no idea. Rodney Purvis and Anthony Bennett have dropped Missouri. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why. You can get local kids under this scenario. You can get kids that don't have better options. But if you want big-time, elite type players, you have to back the coach. I've said it 1000 times. Some don't agree and that's fine. And I'm not saying I know WHY Mike Alden hasn't done so. Maybe it's not his choice. Maybe Mizzou is worried the NCAA has more on Haith than we think. But Alden is telling recruits Haith will be here (not guaranteeing it, but intimating it). He is telling boosters Haith will be here. Why he is not telling everyone, I truly have no idea. Again, there may be a very legitimate reason. But I don't have a clue what it is.

mglassma asks: Now that Bolden is gone, who steps up to provide depth? What can you tell us about how well Payton and Browning performed in camp? Between Costello, Franklin and Glaser who has the best arm AND what would have to happen for Berkstressor to see playing time. In addition, based on what you have seen in practice, what are Franklin's throwing strengths?

Payton and Browning will redshirt this year barring an injury. Matt White and Kenji Jackson start, Braylon Webb and Kenronte Walker back them up and Daniel Easterly is the fifth safety who will travel.

As far as the quarterbacks, Franklin probably has the best arm of those three, but I'll admit to not studying enough tape to know that for sure. Berkstresser has the best arm of all four. Whether or not he plays is the most interesting thing to me. If you feel he's the guy that goes in if Franklin is hurt for the season, you have to play him when you can. That would be Western Illinois. If he doesn't play in that game, I find it unlikely he will play.

As far as Franklin's strengths, I think he's got the arm to make the throws. He doesn't have Gabbert's arm, but I was surprised by a couple of the throws on Saturday. Jerrell Jackson told me the best thing Franklin does is the touch he can put on the ball, which is something that Gabbert struggled with at times.

monro411 asks: If we go to the big 10 I an thinking Nebraska would become our biggest in conf rival. But what if we go to the SEC, who would be our bigest rival?

Arkansas and it's not close. The football programs have played a couple times recently and they recruit against each other all the time. And basketball, oh, man, can you imagine the reception for Mike Anderson at Mizzou Arena? Honestly, I think it's the main reason I hope Missouri goes to the SEC is just to see what it's like.

tigerten asks: Who is Coach Haiths biggest target after Rodney Purvis?

At this point, I'm not sure. As I said above, I believe that recruiting cannot move forward with the high-level kids until there is public resolution on the issue. Really, speculating on kids is not something I feel like I can do without that statement.

heinfelter81 asks: Twice this past week coach Pinkel sounded very down in the dumps in interviews he was giving pretaining to conference adjustments. In your estimation can he become discouraged enough where he might resign? Heaven forbid that would happen. He is usually very upbeat and was surprised to hear him being down.

Holy cow, that is a leap of epic proportions. I put the chances of that happening somewhere around minus-425 percent. Pinkel is sick of having to answer these questions. He's sick of dealing with it. But he's not going to walk away.

jncatch asks: You could write a 20 page article on this, but what are the pros and cons for MU joining the B10, PAC12, SEC and the Big East - if we had the option of course? I've seen a few reports that we've had feelers from all four so it'd be interesting to get your perspective on which would be the "best".

I've tried to answer this in various posts on the board, but I'll try to give you my biggest pro and biggest con for each:

Big Ten: Biggest pro-It just makes sense regionally and from a natural rivalry standpoint. Many have thought of Mizzou as a Big Ten type of school for a long time. In addition, academically, it's head and shoulders above the SEC.

Biggest con-First off, does the Big Ten really want Missouri? They've had a chance and passed. I believe the Big Ten is the only league that has no urgency to add teams. They can stay at 12. Any Big Ten expansion is focused on getting Notre Dame, and I don't think Missouri helps do that. On a more short-sighted point, going to the Big Ten damages recruiting in Texas quite a bit.

SEC: Biggest pro-It puts you in the best football conference in America and probably gets you into areas and living rooms you couldn't get into before. With A&M around you can still recruit Texas, but also start going into places like Georgia, Mississippi and Florida. In addition, outside of Kentucky, there are no basketball programs that are head and shoulders above Missouri (though Florida has been very, very good the last 10-20 years obviously) and it probably also helps recruiting in sports like swimming, softball, baseball, etc.

Biggest con-It's really, really tough to compete in football. I'm not saying Missouri couldn't. But you could have a year where you play Tennessee, Arkansas, A&M, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and South Carolina. That isn't a very easy schedule. In the Big 12, Missouri is virtually guaranteed a bowl game every year. In the SEC, there would be the threat of six or seven loss seasons, much more so than there is now. That said, if you go 8-4 in the Big 12, you're in the Pinstripe or the Holiday Bowl. If you go 8-4 in the SEC, you play on January 1.

PAC-XX: Biggest pro-If the dominoes fall the way it is speculated, you maintain relationships with half of the old Big Eight in CU, OU, OSU and, most importantly, Kansas. You are in a league that has eight of the country's top 40 TV markets and basically has everything that matters from the Mississippi westward. That league dominates half the country.

Biggest con-How do you fund all the non-revenue sports? It's a lot of money to send the softball team to Seattle or the swim team to Palo Alto. I understand it's not the driving force behind any decision, but cutting sports isn't something you want to do from a PR standpoint.

Big East: Biggest pro--It's a landing spot and, for now, a major conference.

Biggest con--Everything else.

Due to the sheer volume of questions, we can't answer every one every week. If your question did not get answered, give it a shot again for next Thursday. The Mailbag will run every Thursday on the site.

The 2011 Tiger Mailbag is sponsored by The Sports Scene. Make sure to stop in at 309 SE Douglas in Lee's Summit, MO to get all your Tiger apparel and official PowerMizzou.com merchandise.

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