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Rock M Roundtable!


1 - Okay, so the Missouri running game isn't looking too good so far this year.  What do you think is the root cause?  Folks on other boards are suggesting that a mid-season overhaul is an absolute necessity and that Pinkel's reluctance to do so proves that he is too stubborn and won't change his ways.  I can't help but ask for your thoughts on that too.

2 - Saturday night's Mizzou-OSU battle pits two almost completely unknown quantities against each other.  With OSU, you have no idea who's even going to play (Is Kendall Hunter healthy? Will Dez Bryant be reinstated?), and with Mizzou, you have no idea how they are going to respond to a loss because they haven't had to yet.  What do you see as the key factor for Saturday night?

3 - Picks!

OU vs Texas
Texas Tech at Nebraska
Kansas at Colorado
Texas A&M at Kansas State
Baylor at Iowa State

And of course...

4 - Favorite new TV show of the year?

The Beef: 1 - Well…not to put too fine a point on it, but I think this board (in no small part) exists because people on other boards are stupid.  And pulling a Forest Gump, "That’s all I have to say about that."

2 - For Mizzou it will be controlling their emotions.  I can see a young team come firing out of the gates wanting to prove something after last week’s Q4.  If they come firing out and a turnover or penalty short-circuits them, the crash could be too big to overcome.  I think Mizzou just needs to relax.  Last time they really seemed relaxed was the MU/Ill game.

3 - OU vs Texas – I really think UT SHOULD win the game, but good lord…I just cannot seem to pick them after watching some of their game last week.  Maybe (and hopefully for them) they were looking ahead.  Will go UT close

Texas Tech at Nebraska – I might be most intrigued by this game.  I am going to say NU in this one

Kansas at Colorado – kU, but how close?  At some point, their D is really going to need to come around some more

Texas A&M at Kansas State -  aTm, as kSU is really pretty bad

Baylor at Iowa State – I will take ISU here, I think they gained some good confidence in their game last week on the road and should apply it at home.

Mizzou-OSU – Seriously?  The last FOUR in Stillwater?  Sheesh…that makes very little sense to me.  Anyway…I think this would be one of GP’s best coaching jobs to date to take this team in there after last week and pull a win out.  I think it is really too early to make a pick here because of the status of Bryant and what he would mean to OSU.  With him, I think they win.  Without him, we certainly COULD win, but I still think we fall in another close one which will have far too many MU fans wringing their hands.

4 - I think I have only watched one new show this year, so I am going to go with "Flash Forward"  Very Lost-esqe, which is good…since this is the last season of the latter.

Doug: 1 - Well, if I can talk about the team I really follow... KU's run defense looked good against UTEP and Southern Miss (who has one of the better running backs in the country) but against Duke and especially Iowa State it has looked bad, really bad. Mangino has come out and said that they'll be tinkering with it this week, not just the run defense but the defense as a whole. I don't think it's ever too late for a team to make adjustments. Obviously, you really can't go out and add another player via free agency in college, but Pinkel may find that a different combination of blockers, runners and plays may help the MU running game. I don't see why he shouldn't.

2 - It's going to be the late game on Saturday in a very hostile environment, against a team that pulled off a road win without their two big receivers. So, the Tigers will have to handle a road game that I think will be different from their Reno trip. Also, how healthy is Gabbert's ankle? If he's not 100% and Pinkel asks him to scramble and run, that won't be a good thing.

3 - Let's go to Vegas this week...
Texas -3.5 - I'll take the Longhorns by 5
Nebraska -10.5 - I know KSU is a bad football team, but I was still impressed by Tech, Red Raiders by 3
Kansas -9.5 - I hope the run game tinkering doesn't over-shadow prepping for two QBs, Jayhawks by 7
aTm -5.5 - Like I said, KSU is a bad team, I think this is an easy cover, Aggies by 10
ISU -2.5 - Again, seems like a small number for a team that played really well last week, especially against Baylor, Cyclones by 14
OSU -7 - Since a touchdown is a push, and there's no hook to deal with, I like the Cowboys by 6.
(Remember kids, Rock M Nation does not condone illegal gambling. If you want to burn through your tuition money, fly to Vegas and do it the right way.)

4 - Actually, my new favorite series is not on a regular network, it's Stargate Universe on SyFy(!).

(The next two e-mails came in simultaneously...)

The Beef: I will certainly say tinkering with an offense or defense via tinkering with the lineup is one thing and certainly something I believe we have already done (given the amount of people we actually use on the O-line).  However, in the little I read/heard about from the other boards, the calls were for a total abandonment of our running style for a more "north-south" (whatever that actually means these days I don’t know) style.

Bill C.: Regarding Doug's answer to #1, I think we become increasingly likely to see a different depth chart as things move forward, but most people on unnamed "other boards" aren't calling for that--they're calling for a change to more a more "power-running" offense (not that they actually go into any more detail than that).  Which makes perfect sense given that a) we're in the middle of a season, and b) we have recruited nothing but spread personnel for five years.

Doug: Perhaps people just want to see straight ahead hand-offs, single cuts, find the hole and go, as opposed to trying to string the defense out along the line and hope to make the corner before you hit the sideline?

I think a good running game needs both of those styles of plays, and I'm sure MU has some of those "north-south plays" in the playbook, it's just a matter of relying to heavily upon the stretch run, that's allowing defenses to key in. And more than that, if they were running a quasi-option, stretch run last week against Nebraska on Gabbert's bum ankle, that was just stupid.

The Beef: And I think we have done plenty of running "between the tackles"…except that D. Washington is not getting through the line and being contacted by D-lineman, and tackled by LB’s instead of clearing the line, being contacted by LB’s and potentially breaking tackles against the secondary.  Devion Moore has actually run better between the tackles, which is ironic since he is the guy who is supposed to stretch the field to the edges.  The only time this year I can really think when we were really hammering the boundary was, again, the Illinois game when Gabbert got out there a few times.

Bill C.: These are Missouri fans.  They're still pissed that we don't have a fullback.

Doug: What's a fullback?

The Beef: Moran Norris?

Doug: Oh, yeah.  Except, Terry Allen (in what was perhaps his most brilliant coaching move and that's saying something), converted Norris from a fullback to an actual running back for his senior year.

The Beef: Almost makes you wish your field had any dirt on it…that’d have been a lot of dust

Doug: Oh, yeah, because back then we needed something else to make the games unwatchable.

Michael Atchison: 1 - The problems on Thursday related largely to a boy named Suh and what appeared to be a rare central Missouri hurricane.  The simple answer is that our line isn’t blocking well enough.  I don’t think Derrick Washington forgot how to run the ball through the hole.  He just hasn’t seen many holes.  As for those who think that Pinkel is stubborn and won’t change his ways, well, duh.  He knows what he wants to do, and his adherence to his plan has paid off.  Gary Pinkel has maddened me many times over the years, but I think he’s proven he knows more than I do (except, perhaps, when it comes to two-point conversions).  People who fail to trust him must have a very short memory when it comes to Missouri football.  One last thing.  He has shown that he’s willing to change when he thinks it’s necessary.  Exhibit one is the spread offense.  Exhibit two is the way he relates to his players now as compared to the first few Spartan seasons.

I’m going to skip the last three questions because of a lack of personal insight and the need to do another thousand things to day.

Good luck not screwing up this roundtable like you did the last one, losers.

The Beef: So methinks we are going to have to carry this for Roundtable for a little while longer…lest we piss off Atch and his parting request/decree

Bill C.: Here's something to help carry the roundtable...I'll actually answer my own questions for once!

1 - I think from my tone you know my answer.  I think this is 60% blocking, 30% running, 10% scheme/play-calling.  And I think if they can't both open holes and run through them against OSU, a team with good linebackers but only a decent O-line, then I'm not sure it will get any better the rest of the year.

And even though I'm cynical enough to know that stupidity is coming, some of the responses to Mike Dearmond's "Missouri sticking with their east-west running game" article still managed to shock me.  Things like saying "God I hate Pinkel sometimes" and "This stubbornness is going to keep us from winning the big games, and if he can't win the big games, he needs to find another job" (paraphrased, of course, as I'm not going to re-read those was enough).  And I can even understand saying those things the night of the game or maybe the next morning--I'm not above over-reacting in the moment.  But when that article came out, everybody had slept at least five separate times since the game, and they were still over-reacting.  And the fact that most of these people a) are older than me and have experienced many more highs and lows (and more lows), and b) likely have wives and children and should be able to see at least 1% of the big picture just baffles me.  But I digress.

2 - I agree that Mizzou's reaction is key here.  I liked the way they played against Nevada--not the slow start, but the way they took a couple of Nevada's best shots and slowly pulled away.  I think that showed pretty good poise, and obviously poise is going to be needed when facing their first truly hostile away crowd (the 19K at Nevada don't really count) and staring back-to-back losses in the face.  If they keep it together and play well, they can absolutely win this game, but I'm having trouble believing they will just yet.  Strangely, my numbers believe in Mizzou more than I do, but I'm okay with that.

3 - As always, we consult the numbers:

OU > Texas by 2.4
Nebraska > Tech by 23.1 (???)
Colorado > Kansas by 2.1 (???)
ATM > KSU by 7.9
ISU > Baylor by 0.1

Mizzou > OSU by 2.0 (???)

Yeah, uhh...some weird results there.  Texas and Kansas really need to start playing better to make the numbers make more sense.

4 - I'm all about Modern Family.  Fantastic cast (I really needed Julie Bowen back in my life) and a pretty good pace, even though the whole faux-documentary thing has been done a million times now.  And though some people are starting to sour on Community, I am really liking that show too.

(An hour later...)

Bill C.: And by "help carry the roundtable," I apparently meant "kill the roundtable."

The Beef: So much for googling "bring the stupid"

I know if I have a new product, I definitely want Boba Fett to help hock it for me

ghtd36: Totally classic Pfeiffer.

A shiny nickel to anyone who can name the reference in the previous line.

1 - Let's play a game called "Comparable Kneejerks", in which I list comparable situations and reactions to the absurd notion that the entire offense needs an overhaul because the running game has struggled a bit. Ready? GO!
-Zack Greinke just walked a man on four pitches. Time to turn him into a submarine pitcher.

-President Obama mispronounced Ugangan president Yoweri Museveni's name. Time to impeach.

-I burnt my toast. What's the point of living?

-John Smith just fell off of his board on the first five times trying to surf during his lessons. Castration is imminent.

-Little Jimmy Palmer wet his pants today during kindergarten. You don't even want to know what the solution is.
Keep up the great work, Internet geniuses! Don't mind the two (or if you want, three) full years of evidence that the system works; base your opinions off of the first five games of a season in which pretty much every defense is stacking up against the run to force a new QB to beat them! Brilliant! Small sample sizes: built for FUN!

2 - The key factor is, as it usually is, putting pressure on Zac Robinson. Robinson is mobile, but (like everyone else) not as good on the run as he is in the pocket. Force him out of the pocket, force him to beat you with his feet (paging Sean Weatherspoon), and you can severely limit the Cowboys offense.

As for offense, I think this will be an excellent gauge of where Blaine Gabbert is right now. Obviously he was a little hobbled last week, but if he's healthy, we could see a show against an OK State defense that got pretty much torched by Houston at home. Protect him, let him make throws, and he could have a big day.

3 - OU vs Texas -- Texas. Though last week proved to me that the Horns are the clear third-best team in the nation behind Florida and Alabama. Wow, did Bama look good.

Texas Tech at Nebraska -- Nebraska, close. Tech looks like it could be hitting its stride, but it's hard to pick against Suh right now, despite Tech's ENORMOUS offensive line.

Kansas at Colorado -- Kansas, close. Maybe Colorado isn't terrible oh wait Hawkins is still there nevermind.
Texas A&M at Kansas State -- A&M. Sorry, TB, but LOL KState.

Baylor at Iowa State -- Baylor. They had flashes against OU last week, and Nick Florence is a good enough QB to beat ISU. Because they're ISU.

Mizzou-OSU -- OSU. Hate to be that guy, but yeah. I don't like the entire situation of coming off of a crushing home loss, then going on the road to play a capable team at night. Doesn't sit well with me. I like OSU by a touchdown, and pray that I'm wrong.

4 - Does the Tonight Show count as a new show? Because it's been getting progressively stronger. But if I have to pick a new-new show, I'll take Community, which has really surprised me by being pretty good. I was very wary of it because Joel McHale is an unproven commodity and, well, Chevy Chase is in it. But yeah, it's been solid.

RPT: 1. If other internet posters ruled the world, Gary Barnett would be coaching MU football, Mike Anderson would have been fired after the Nebraska game last year (if not at any other previous point in his tenure), and Blaine Gabbert would still be a "no talent loser" if he hadn't switched his commitment from NU to MU.

Unless Chris from Smart Football comes in here and tells me otherwise, I'm nowhere near ready to say that this is the scheme's fault. In fact, technically speaking, the spread should make it EASIER to run the ball. Why, you ask? The spreading of defenders gives the offense a numbers advantage in the box and should open up gaps for your backs.

In my amateur opinion, it really does seem like an execution failure from a combination of units. Most of it falls on the offensive line. This offensive line hasn't been recruited to overpower people, which is why the Missouri scheme is so pull-heavy and zone-reliant. However, this season, it seems like D-Lines are beating the O-Line to spots, causing a ruckus in the backfield and resulting in a crapload of holding calls. This line is built for athleticism, so it really can't afford to be beaten by speed. A small but not significant amount of blame falls on the backs, who have sometimes been impatient in setting up blocks or electing to cut back off of a zone block. This is made a little bit tougher by the fact that A) most teams are keying on them and B) Nebraska wasn't keying on them, but that D-Line still wrecked shop all night.

2. Let me say this: Kendall Hunter, I love you to death and I wish you nothing but success in all your endeavors. Now, please don't play Saturday. Dude may not have the fastest straight line speed, but he has the quickest feet I've ever seen in person.

I think the key is the Missouri offense getting its swagger back. I can't quantify it, but with each passing week, I find myself gaining more trust in the Missouri defense and losing a little trust in the Missouri offense. OSU can put up points obviously, but I'm really beginning to place a lot trust in Steckel and the personnel. Missouri's got to get on the board early and often to make sure that swagger we're so used to seeing on offense returns.

3. Picks!

OU < Texas -- However, I am loving watching 'Horns fans have to accept Bill's theory that McCoy was going to regress to the mean this year (BUT BUT BUT HE'S SO CLUTCH!!! /horns fans)

Texas Tech < Nebraska -- 'Skers are very fortunate this one isn't in Lubbock

Kansas > Colorado -- My benefit of the doubt for KU is wearing off. I have not been impressed

Texas A&M > Kansas State -- The Ags are starting to get it together

Baylor < Iowa State -- Same goes for Iowa State

Mizzou < OSU -- I think Missouri is absolutely capable of winning this game, but I'm just not ready to predict it.

4. Put me on board for Community as well, but with the caveat that I haven't gotten around to watching Modern Family yet. I was a big Joel McHale fan on The Soup and he hasn't disappointed me on Community. It has some unfunny stretches, but overall, it's pretty solid.

RPT: Also, I'd been waiting to post this:

This season has been very bacon-light. I say we transfer blame for the loss from the poor roundtable  last week to our community's slowdown on bacon coverage.

ghtd36: Quick: smell of bacon or taste of bacon?

RPT: Taste of perfectly cooked bacon. If it's not perfectly cooked, smell edges out taste by a nose.

And I really hate myself for phrasing it that way.

ghtd36: Not as much as I hate you for phrasing it that way. And you call yourself an aspiring sports journalist in training.

RPT: So, after whining and complaining about our internet fans for awhile, is it time we shift focus and begin making jokes at the expense of Kansas fans?

If I learned anything from Gladiator, the winner is the fighter who wins the crowd. Methinks KU basketball is winning that battle. Can we get a ruling from the emperor?

ghtd36: I just got the image of Mark Mangino taking the mic at halftime when all the Kansas fans leave, and giving the "I'm not mad, I'm disappointed" speech. That's the worst.

Then, of course, he'd eat six eclairs.


RPT: Which is matched only by Bill Self taking the mic at halftime of KU's first home basketball game and screaming into the mic, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?"

(Photoshop wanted)