Vols can get beat deep, James Franklin wants to be the short-yardage guy, Evan Boehm is a quick learner, and Mizzou's backcourt could be gooooooooooood.
Mizzou Football Links
The Trib (Dave Matter): Writer's Block: Woodbery on Vols' woes
Q: What's the problem with the Tennessee defense? Poor in coverage, pass rush, tackling? And what do you make of Dooley talking about changing the defense 10 weeks into the season?
A: I think the "change" in the defense was more rhetoric than anything. I can't imagine that there are a lot of schematic things that can be done at this point. Dooley will be more involved in game-planning and meetings and Sunseri will likely be upstairs for the game. Beyond that, who knows?
Why is the defense so bad? As Dooley has said, if there were an easy answer to that question, they would have solved it already. The team is transitioning to a 3-4 defense this year under Sunseri while spending more time on the field due to the faster pace of the Tennessee offense.
The secondary is probably the weakest link. The Vols get beat deep when they are in man coverage and they suffer death by a thousand cuts when they are in zone.
Q: Where are the Vols vulnerable offensively? Looking at their numbers you'd think they'd be more successful, even in a defense-oriented league.
A: When Tennessee's offense is clicking, as it has been the last two games, it is very hard to stop. However, quarterback Tyler Bray has been turnover-prone, especially in SEC play. The running game is serviceable if not elite — far better than it was last year. The offensive line might be one of the league's best units. Bray's jersey rarely gets dirty.
The quarterback always takes the blame, and that mantle has become Franklin's albatross this season. He's gone from Missouri's golden boy to the goat. On Monday, Franklin was terse and succinct with the media. Not rude, but not his usual chatty self. He took Gary Pinkel's desire to not mention injuries anymore to heart, and wouldn't place any blame for his inaccuracy on his once-injured knee or once-injured shoulder, despite some's constant questioning about the subject.
"I just wasn't using the right form and rushing a lot of things," Franklin said. "I tried to stay in the pocket more than I needed to."
The change in Franklin's mentality may have begun before the game, too. During the week, Missouri's offensive staff installed a package to use Corbin Berkstresser in goalline and short-yardage sets. Franklin pulled offensive coordinator David Yost aside during the week to implore the coach to let him run those make-or-break packages. He asked Yost, "What do I have to do so that I'm running those plays?"
Yost's answer, as he recalled on Monday, was more of a scoff, saying there was no way they would put Franklin in danger of getting an easy shot to his shoulder or knee.
KC Star: Evan Boehm is a quick study on Missouri's offensive line
Provided he starts Saturday at Tennessee, Boehm will be the only Missouri offensive lineman to start all 10 games this season. Considering coach Gary Pinkel had never started a true freshman on the O-line during his 12-year tenure at Missouri, that pretty much speaks to Boehm’s impact.
"Heck," co-offensive line coach Josh Henson said, "he’s our veteran now."
Laughs aside, there’s a small amount of truth to this. Boehm has been one of the few steady presences on a line that has seen seven players injured since the start of the season. He says both Henson and Bruce Walker, MU’s other co-offensive line coach, told him he was no longer a freshman after the Tigers’ 62-10 season-opening win over Southeastern Louisiana.
"That’s one of the things that have helped me improve," Boehm said. "But I wasn’t going to be like ‘Hey Coach, I’m a freshman, that’s why I missed this block.’ That’s not the mentality I have."
PowerMizzou: KC DT Maliek Collins focused on season
Big Cat Country: Jaguars crushed at home again, 27-10
Shutdown Corner: Scattershot Colts beat pathetic Jaguars without Luck's best game
NFL.com: Justin Blackmon hurting Blaine Gabbert, scout says
We Are Mizzou: Inside Access: Film Study
Mizzou Basketball Links
Season Starts Tomorrow
MUtigers.com: Phil Pressey Named to Wooden Award Preseason Top 50
The Trib: This backcourt takes backseat to no one
Pressey and Dixon were Missouri's most effective weapons throughout the game in a stunning, season-ending loss to 15th-seeded Norfolk State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. They combined for 42 points on 14-for-21 shooting, including 8 of 10 from 3-point range, and also had 13 assists.
They will get a chance to play side-by-side more often with Dixon expected to eventually slide into the starting lineup after being suspended for Missouri's two exhibition games.
It primarily will be Pressey's responsibility to spread the ball around to all the new pieces, helping mold them into a potent attack. Dixon, meanwhile, is a likely bet to take over as the Tigers' top scorer with Denmon gone.
They are versatile enough to trade those duties from time to time, and they should both excel at pressuring the ball on defense, particularly with the frontcourt tandem of Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers ready to back them up should they get beat.
"Both of them are two tough son-of-a-guns — like fearless," Bowers said. "They just feed off each other's energy. …. They'd just wear other point guards down. Both of them are capable scorers, and they don't like losing, so I think they'll work well together."
The Trib (Steve Walentik): Pressey a player of the year candidate
The Missourian: Missouri ready for season opener
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou rebuilding with transfers
The Tigers have six players who transferred from Division I programs, and some were the focal point at their former schools. At Mizzou, they must become pieces to the puzzle if the blend is to work.
"It’s important to define their roles," Haith said. "That’s a lot of practice and finding out not where guys have the best chance to be successful, but to help us become successful. Then it’s getting them to buy into that."
The era of free agency in college sports has arrived, and Mizzou has taken advantage, even using the loophole that allows a player to switch schools and play immediately under certain circumstances.
More than 400 players changed schools for the 2012-13 season, continuing a trend that has seen more than a 10 percent annual transfer rate since the mid-2000s. So, while Mizzou’s situation might be unusual, the Tigers are not an anomaly.
Oriakhi is viewed by most as the prime catch, and he is able to play without sitting out a year because Connecticut is ineligible for the postseason. Most of the others were at Mizzou last season and had the opportunity to practice with the Tigers and learn Haith’s system.
The Dagger: Sixty-eight predictions for the new season that are sure to come true (unless they don't)
54. Who's the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC? Give me Missouri by a nose over Florida and Tennessee. The Gators and Vols both have formidable frontcourts, but the Tigers are the more complete team if their transfers mesh with returners Phil Pressey, Michael Dixon and Laurence Bowers.
Mizzou Diamond Sports Links
Be sure to check out trrip's comprehensive look at former Tigers in the minors ... there are a ton of them now...
Fall World Series
SimmonsField.com: Mizzou Baseball Fall World Series Sweep
SimmonsField.com: Mizzou Baseball in the Minors: 2012 in Review
Other Mizzou Links
MUtigers.com: Mizzou Hosts Illinois Saturday in NCAA First Round
MUtigers.com: Mizzou Wrestling Media Day Quotes
Mizzou Women's Basketball
MUtigers.com: Mizzou Opens Regular Season Against Saint Louis
MUtigers.com: Tigers Meet with the Media
The Missourian: Latvian native follows basketbal dream to Missouri
Mizzou Swimming & Diving
MUtigers.com: Tiger Men Travel to No. 10 Georgia
MUtigers.com: Mizzou Women Face No. 2 Georgia on Friday
Food Republic: When Sausage Met Potato: 5 Ways With Bangers and Mash