Blowin' Smoke Presented by Weston Tobacco
What's more fun than us giving you a chance to mock us every single week? In our new feature, Blowin' Smoke presented by Weston Tobacco, we will do that each and every Thursday. Gabe DeArmond and Mitchell Forde will make five predictions almost sure to go wrong every week in this space. These will range from big games to big picture predictions with a bit of the comedic and absurd mixed in most weeks as well.
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1) We know Eli Drinkwitz isn't going to tell us, but who starts at QB?
Mitchell: I'm going to continue to guess Shawn Robinson until I have reason to believe otherwise, although I will say I was thinking the other day about why everyone decided he's the odds-on favorite. It was entirely built on the hype he got from the old staff during last season. The same offensive staff that has been entirely wiped out, that was undoubtedly trying to build some optimism for this season while last year was going south and that once gave Lindsey Scott Jr. a scholarship (no offense to Scott, who seemed like a great kid, but never looked anywhere near an FBS passer during practices). All of that is to say I won't be shocked if Connor Bazelak or even Taylor Powell gets the nod. But since I have no information to update my prediction, I'm sticking with Robinson.
Gabe: I'd be surprised if it isn't Robinson. We know what Taylor Powell is more or less at this point, I think. We don't know nearly as much about Connor Bazelak. So if it's not Robinson, it either means he's not as good as people seem to believe or Bazelak is actually quite a bit better. But like you, I have no real basis for saying that.
2) Outside of QB, what position is the most up in the air to you?
Gabe: Cornerback. Missouri lost two of its top three from last year. I know Jarvis Ware will start and I would guess Adam Sparks does too at least in the season opener. But can Chris Shearin or Ish Burdine make a move? Is Ennis Rakestraw good enough to play meaningful snaps right away? Chris Mills is there too. You're going to have to play probably four guys there, so beyond just the two starters, I'm interested to see who the others will be.
Mitchell: I think it has to be the offensive line. Not only was the position a weakness during the second half of last season, the three most experienced players from the unit are all gone. Only Case Cook and Larry Borom have meaningful experience in a Tiger uniform, and both have struggled at times. Throw in the challenges of learning a new offense and having less time to build chemistry together, and I think the line is the biggest question mark on the team, both in terms of who will play and how they will perform.
3) Did anything about the schedule being released change your opinion on Mizzou's record this year?
Mitchell: Not really. Although, man, what a brutal start. Alabama and LSU in the first three weeks? Welcome to the SEC, Eli Drinkwitz. I think it would be fair to have some concerns about Mizzou getting worn down by the first four games, which could very well bring an 0-4 start. A small part of me also wonders if the season starts going south, whether some players would think about using the COVID opt-out, although I think that's unlikely unless they intend to transfer. But you could also make the argument that, with a new head coach and new offensive system, the team was always going to struggle at the beginning of the season and maybe this way they're hitting their stride when the schedule lightens up. At the end of the day, the order of the games doesn't do anything to change my prediction of a 3-7 record.
Gabe: The only thing that changes for me is if they get dragged down by the frontloaded schedule. You should be Vandy, but coming off Bama, Tennessee and LSU, where's the mindset? I'm not guaranteeing an 0-3 start or anything, but Mizzou will be at least a touchdown underdog in all three and double digit dogs in two. If you've lost three games by 50 points where's your head at in game four? Then after that you get Florida and Kentucky and Georgia. Missouri could be a fair amount better than last year sitting 1-6. Three of the four easiest games on the schedule are at the end. I'd think Drinkwitz would want it reversed if he had his wishes to build some confidence in his team. But ultimately, I probably won't change my prediction either.
4) The top 25 is coming out next week. How many SEC teams are ranked?
Mitchell: I think eight for sure: Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Tennessee. All of those teams were in the top 29, if you count teams receiving votes, in the preseason Coaches' Poll, which was released before any of the conferences postponed their seasons. I went and counted, there are eight teams from that top 25 that will no longer play this fall, which I would think means at least one more SEC team gets in, and maybe more. I'll say Mississippi State and Ole Miss both sneak in there, giving the SEC 10 teams in the top 25*.
Gabe: I'd say nine is fair. I don't see how Ole Miss gets ranked or South Carolina really. But those teams will get some votes. Heck, Missouri might get some votes too. There are only 77 teams playing right now and it's possible that number goes down.
5) More confident, less confident or unchanged on whether we have a football game played on September 26th?
Mitchell: I was about as pessimistic as possible last week, so I would have to say more confident. I'm still far from optimistic, I think mainly because I still can't envision having half the country postpone football and the entire country cancel championships in every other fall sport and these six conferences playing football anyway because they need the money. I'm absolutely not arguing that playing football is wrong. But for these colleges, which have always been so image conscious and fought to label players as "student-athletes" for so long, I just have a hard time imagining them withstanding these breakouts and campus closures that seem inevitable as students return to campuses. I will say, though, I was pleasantly surprised when the ACC and North Carolina basically said they were going to continue with football as usual when that campus closed, so maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am. It's been really nice to interview people about football and preview a schedule and write about the game this week.
Gabe: Definitely more confident. Getting the Big 12 on board and getting through last week was big. I know there are outbreaks on campuses, but they had to know that was going to happen. I feel like the leagues that committed to play crossed a line last week. I think they're playing. Unless a team just gets overrun by this thing in the next five weeks, I feel pretty good we're going to have a game on September 26th. I don't really know how many we'll have after that, but I think the conferences that are still playing have decided they care way more about football and money than they do the public perception of playing games if kids can't go to biology class.