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Mizzou Links, 8-12-13

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The Candy formation, Mike Alden, magic hands, strength and conditioning, Max Scherzer, and a little Soulquarian Monday.

Bill Carter

1. More from Saturday's scrimmage

KC Star: Notes, quotes and observations from MU’s first scrimmage

Missouri’s first-team defensive line was very disruptive, racking up six sacks, two pass deflections and two tackles for loss. I particularly enjoyed seeing Missouri’s nickel pass-rushing formation, in which defensive end Kony Ealy shifted down to the three-technique defensive tackle and was replaced on the quarterback’s blind side by sophomore Shane Ray.

It’s a third-down look the Tigers used at times last season, and it would be a huge boost to the defense if Ray, a Bishop Miege product who played at 235 pounds last year and recently told me he’s now 245, can find a way to be productive.

The Missourian: Missouri football notebook: First fall scrimmage held Saturday

And More from We Are Mizzou's Rookie Spotlight series
We Are Mizzou: Rookie Spotlight: J'Mon Moore

2. Hey, Mike

The Trib: Q&A with MU Athletic Director Mike Alden
The Trib (Steve Walentik): More from MU Athletic Director Mike Alden

Q: It’s obviously not a secret that football was the driver in all of the league shifting that has gone on. Obviously, it wasn’t just about what was happening on the field. A lot of it was financial. But as you look ahead, how important is it to have a turnaround season on the football field in terms of the stability of your overall athletic department?

A: I’ll answer it this way. The financial model of college athletics, particularly at our level — which Mizzou is at the highest level in college sports, we know that, the top conference in the country — so the financial model in our business is really predicated on football being a major driving force. Now, men’s basketball is also a driving force. Your annual giving is also a driving force, and in some areas, some of your Olympics sports are. But for the most part of this, football is going to create the largest share of revenue being generated for a program, exposure, television opportunities, whatever that may be. So I think for us, to continue, we have to show continued improvement. We’ve got to show a continued growth relative to our recruiting base, and we’ve got to show a continued elevation as far as competitiveness, and obviously winning games and filling the stadiums and all that kind of stuff. Again, that’s a process. I don’t think you put that based on, "OK, we’ve got to do this by X …" You’ve just got to show continued movement in that direction, because as we have continued to build the quote-unquote stock value of football at Mizzou — because certainly it’s become relevant on a national scale — it’s also become very relevant on a financial model with our athletic program. Now, when you step into the strongest league in the country, you have to show continued growth in that area, so those revenue streams, exposure continue to grow for all your programs. I think all of our Olympic sport coaches, all of our coaches would agree with that. I would think. They all know that that’s the driver.

3. Some "In case you missed it" links from the weekend

At some point, we may reach our saturation point with inspirational Henry Josey links (but we haven't yet)
Post-Dispatch: Josey’s long nightmare followed by lofty dreams

Daniel Easterly's got a head on him
The Missourian: Missouri football's Easterly dreams of a better Detroit

And you know I'm a sucker for target data
The Trib (Behind the Stripes): Target Practice: Pass distribution among Missouri's WRs

4. Not a surprise Football Season Opener Kick Time Set

5. /runs through wall

We Are Mizzou: Mizzou Football Weight Lifting and Conditioning

6. Max Max Scherzer and a Breakout You Can Believe In

Scherzer was a solid MLB starter, but for fans who watched him every week, the inconsistency was often frustrating. His delivery had a lot of moving parts and could easily get out of control and result in stretches of poor performance. When he was on, he was nearly unhittable, but when he was off he was dramatically worse. On balance that’s an average pitcher, but Jekyll and Hyde athletes can be maddening to watch.

The potential was there, it just required some hard work to develop consistent mechanics. Since the start of 2012, Scherzer has posted a 3.33 ERA and 3.00 FIP in 346 innings and 55 starts. He’s taken the leap from solid MLB starter to frontline ace. In the last calendar year, according to FanGraphs, no pitcher was been worth more than Scherzer’s 7.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which is a statistic that measures a player’s overall contribution to the team.

There’s certainly a case to be made for others, but Scherzer is among the best pitchers in baseball right now. He’s gotten a lot of mainstream coverage for his gaudy won-loss record (17-1), but the extreme nature of those numbers are due in large part to excellent run support (7.67 runs per 9) from the powerful Tigers offense.

If you strip away the team for which he plays, the raw pitching numbers are impressive and stand by themselves. Scherzer is striking out more than 29% of the batters he’s faced this year, trailing only Yu Darvish among starters, and is walking just under 6% which is an excellent mark for a power pitcher like Scherzer. He’s getting hitters to swing more often and to make less contact and has also added a curveball that’s made him more effective against left-handed hitters, but the leap has really been about consistency.

7. Hey, John

The Trib: ESPN’s Anderson will sponsor mile race

8. There are other fall sports, too, you know

Volleyball Henning, Kreklow Named to Preseason All-SEC Team
The Trib: Missouri volleyball team is cautiously optimistic
KBIA Sports: Kreklow, Henning get volleyball preseason honors

The Trib: Tigers lean on Diggs

Music Monday

One thing about travel is that it actually gives me some time to read. I started and finished Questlove's Mo' Meta Blues last week, and it was awesome. I think you have to come to the table with a certain amount of knowledge about the Roots' history to completely enjoy it -- he skips a few things, as if he assumes you already know them -- but if you do know them, it's a wonderfully enjoyable read.

I can't just do a Music Monday about the Roots -- I wouldn't be able to narrow it down to five songs. But I'll take a stab at a particular era instead. Here are five great songs from the Soulquarians era, where a group of artists (The Roots, Common, Erykah Badu, Slum Village, etc.) basically holed up, first in Questlove's house, then at Electric Lady studios, and made a series of albums more or less together.

"Water" might still be my favorite Roots song.