Campus Corner

Ask Tod: No TV for Mizzou, more Lock talk and too-early, big-picture chatter

Missouri and head coach Gary Pinkel won’t be on TV this weekend.
Missouri and head coach Gary Pinkel won’t be on TV this weekend. The Associated Press

Fire up the laptop if you want to watch Missouri this weekend or buy a TV that can play streaming content, because ESPN3 isn’t on your cable or satellite guide.

It’s got some fans upset, but only a few short years ago fans’ only option to see a game like this was pay-per-view or, you know, a road trip.

Besides, you know I’ve got you covered before and after the game. I’m Jonesboro-bound on my birthday, because that’s how dedicated I am to you fine people.

Now, on to your questions (and I appreciate them all, so keep them coming):

Paul, told by whom? This happens early in the college football season. There are simply too many games for the SEC’s broadcast partners with only three conference games on the docket. CBS chose Georgia/Vanderbilt. ESPN snagged Oklahoma/Tennessee and LSU/Mississippi State then chose to put Fresno State/Mississippi and East Carolina/Florida on ESPN2 with Ball State/Texas A&M on ESPNU.

That left five games for four spots on the SEC Network, which selected games involving Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas and a conference game between Kentucky and South Carolina. Missouri at Arkansas State was the odd man out as the only nonconference road game on the schedule this weekend.

I think that had a lot to do with it. Games at SEC stadiums are easier from the standpoint of assembling a crew and setting up. So, maybe it was convenience, maybe it was infrastructure, maybe there’s a feeling other games will draw better ratings. In any case, streaming is the only option for the game via ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app. Go old school and listen to Mike Kelly’s call on the radio. I’ll paint the pictures with my words in Sunday’s star.

Kraig, Drew Lock will play much like Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert in seasons past. He’ll probably get a preplanned series in the first and second halves for the time being. I just don’t envision a scenario where Maty Mauk plays so bad and Lock is so clearly better that Missouri makes a change.

Two things could happen that force coach Gary Pinkel’s hand. An injury to Mauk would elevate Lock. If he dings his shoulder as severely as he did last season, I suspect Mauk would go to the bench rather than gut his way through it this season. Otherwise, it would probably take a few losses in which Mauk played very poorly for Pinkel and his staff even to consider a move.

If you’re a Lock lover, patience is a virtue. His time will come. If you want to get way ahead of yourself, remember that he can’t leave for the NFL until after the 2017 season. There are plenty of great moments ahead for Lock in black and gold.

Nate, only if senior Tyler Hunt and junior Morgan Steward also struggle. Technically, Abbington — who is a redshirt sophomore no matter what the Missouri roster says — isn’t even on the Tigers’ depth chart at the moment.

Senior Russell Hansbrough obviously is the No. 1 running back. Nobody disputes that. Missouri’s staff is adamant that sophomore Ish Witter is the clear-cut No. 2 guy. Hunt and Steward are bigger backs and share the third-string duties.

Abbington wasn’t overly impressive during camp and didn’t beat out any of those guys to make the official game-day depth chart. He’s long and lean. Missouri tends to utilize more compact, shifty running backs. That’s not to say there isn’t a role for him and he doesn’t deserve a roster spot or that he can’t emerge down the road as a legitimate playmaker. But right now, he’s not the next man up if Witter doesn’t pan out.

Don’t forget, redshirt freshman Trevon Walters also will begin working back into the mix in late September or early October. Depending on how he performs in practice, the Tigers’ staff could decide to give him a few carries and see what they have.

Seth, Missouri kept things pretty vanilla overall against Southeast Missouri. One of the exceptions was unleashing senior cornerback Kenya Dennis for a sack on the corner blitz. Given that new defensive coordinator Barry Odom plans to play a more aggressive style rather than relying as much on zone coverage combined with the losses Missouri had along the defensive line from last season, it’s reasonable to assume Dennis will get more chances to go after the quarterback.

That said, only one of Memphis’ 30 sacks last season (Odom came from Memphis) came from a defensive back, so it’s far more likely that we eventually see linebackers Kentrell Brothers, Michael Scherer and Donavin Newsom with a spike in QB harasses. Four Memphis linebackers had at least two sacks last season, including 11 combined from Tank Jakes and Genard Avery.

Brian, tell me how many sacks and tackles for a loss he has after the Arkansas game on Nov. 27. Or better still, ask me again in six weeks, because it’s way too early to worry about such things.

Those awards are based so much on stats at the end of the season or reputation (especially for offensive linemen). I just don’t know and couldn’t pretend to predict. Who figured Michael Sam or Shane Ray would win SEC defensive player of the year honors one game into each of the last two seasons?

Can sophomore defensive end Charles Harris put up the kind of numbers it takes to grab some attention? Absolutely. He’s a big, strong, physical, smart, humble and hard-working kid. He’ll also get a little shine playing for D-Line Zou, because of the recent success for coach Craig Kuligowski’s crew. Harris had four tackles, including 1 1/2 for a loss, and a forced fumble in his second career start. Not a bad start, but there are also a lot of very good defensive linemen in the SEC.

Brian, no. C’mon, it was a Football Championship Series team. The run game wasn’t great, but the passing game clicked better than expected and the defense was superb. Of course, it was Southeast Missouri. It was a good game to knock off some rust and gain experience.

Rusty, I certainly hope so. With me, he’s always been a sweet-natured, teddy bear of a man who gives good quotes and speaks his mind freely. What more could a reporter want? I’d hate to lose that.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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