So it appears both Illinois and Missouri football coaches showed up for special events at Busch Stadium last week. The Post-Dispatch’s Ben Hochman talked to both sides. This nugget from Barry Odom was pretty pleasing to the ear (or eye, I guess):
Before addressing to a rowdy crowd at Ballpark Village, Odom spoke about the ascension of his seniors, even as juniors.
“The thing I’m maybe most excited about is the leadership of our senior class — they took over after the Arkansas game last year,” said the coach, who salvaged a rough season with that win against the Razorbacks. “We’ve done a lot together, put some stuff together that, quite frankly, I wasn’t able to last year. And they’re running with it.
“Every one of them has a voice, but if you look at guys who are really at the forefront, there’s Marcell Frazier, Eric Beisel, Ish Witter would be the top three who have really taken off.”
On the field, Frazier and Beisel were setting examples late in their respective junior seasons. Frazier had a single tackle for loss nine games into 2016, then produced 7.5 in the final three games and four against Arkansas. Beisel, meanwhile, had 4.0 tackles and no TFLs through seven games, then rang up 35.5 tackles and 6.0 TFLs over the last five. They’re both pretty impressive perseverance stories, and if they’re leading off the field like they were attempting to lead on it in late-2016, that’s exciting.
Before getting hurt against Arkansas, Witter had also experienced a bit of a second-half surge. He rushed for just 257 yards at 3.8 yards per carry over his first five games, then had 481 yards at 5.4 per carry over the next six games. He was the second fiddle to Damarea Crockett at that point, but projected over 12-13 games, he was a second fiddle playing at a 1,000-yard pace.
There’s also a certain junior quarterback with a high ceiling and some more growing to do. Odom talked to The Trib’s Blake Toppmeyer about Drew Lock:
Q: You talked the other day about how you’ve seen Drew Lock make the same level of improvement from the end of last season to now that he made from his freshman to sophomore seasons. What, specifically, areas has he improved?
A: “Just a lot more confidence and the understanding, again, in offensive coordinator” Josh “Heupel’s scheme, for another offseason. Everything last year was new to him, from terminology to presnap read to all the different things that go into playing that position. Now he’s got more comfort level in that, obviously. He’s got the arm talent to do a lot of things. Now he understands how to read a defense a little bit more. You kind of saw some of that towards the end of the year. And” he has “another year with all the receivers we’ve got coming back. He looked really good in the spring.”
A few more football items:
- Looks like the over-under for Mizzou wins in 2017 is currently 6.5. I’m thinking my S&P+ projections will be a hair lower than that, but we’ll see. Lots and lots of relative tossups on the Tigers’ schedule.
- The Rivals.com 3 Stripe Camp was this weekend in St. Louis, and PowerMizzou was covering it from a lot of angles. Here’s Brian Austin’s notebook piece, and here are Q&A videos with big-time prospects Kamryn Babb, Ayodele Adeoye, and the trio of Ronnie Perkins, Michael Thompson, and Trevor Trout.
- SEC coaches weren’t big fans of the addition of the December signing day, but they sure do love the thought of the changes to the redshirt rules. I do, too.
- Coming to the SEC: Romphims.
- Cuonzo Martin knows that recruiting is only step one of the Mizzou Hoops rebuild, and it will hinge on more than just the success of Michael Porter Jr.. But uh, that’s a pretty good place to start.
- Jeremiah Tilmon is big terms of both literal size and symbolism. The last five St. Louis-area players to sign with Mizzou out of high school, per Dave Matter: Cullen VanLeer (2015), Ryan Rosburg (2012), Matt Lawrence (2005), Kalen Grimes (2004), and Jimmy McKinney (2002). Five in 15 years, and only one of them averaged more than 8 points per game as Tigers. Yuuuuuck.