It’s finally football season and that means it’s time to bring back everyone’s favorite Voltron vs. Megazord public referendum, Staring Down the Musket. Oscar from Rock M Nation was kind enough to join me to break down Mizzou.
Matt: Nobody wanted to see Gary Pinkel's career end like that, but health is a lot more important than football. To that end, though, what was his lasting legacy at Mizzou and how has Barry Odom handled his first spring and summer on the job?
Oscar : Gary Pinkel's legacy was turning Missouri into a program that went to two bowl games in the 15 years before he was hired to a program that made 10 bowl games in his 15 year tenure, including seven in a row between 2005 and 2011 and playing in four conference championship games, two in the Big 12 and two in the SEC. He provided stability and structure laying down the foundation for Missouri to become a consistent contender in not one but two of the strongest leagues in college football. Pinkel navigated the transition from the Big 12 to the SEC about as well as could be expected for a non-blue blood program.
Barry Odom, who many would consider Pinkel's hand-picked successor, has handled an incredibly chaotic 2015 - and the subsequent off-season, remarkably well. Restoring a semblance of order to a program that appeared, at least to outsiders, to have run off the rails. Odom has handled the duties of head coach with the savvy of someone's who's been doing it much longer, maintaining the team's focus while dealing with administrative and coaching turnover, player discipline and a national spotlight. I would say fans are high on Odom's ability to reinvigorate Mizzou football, both on the field and on the recruiting trail. Having attended and covered spring and fall camp under both Pinkel and Odom, I have to say there's a renewed energy and competitive vibe among the players and new coaching staff.
Matt: So, here we are in this weird, random, post-realignment world and the Missouri Tigers are playing in a Big 12 stadium in Morgantown, WV. Still weird. Anything you miss about your old league?
Oscar: My Missouri fandom began right around 2001 when Gary Pinkel became the head coach so I have neither the experience nor the baggage of rooting for the Tigers during their worst years. I know there is a segment of the fanbase that misses the original Big 8 conference (Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa State, Colorado, kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State). I get that but I personally embrace the future and Missouri's good fortune to be in the SEC, best conference in college football. I like playing blue-blood programs every weekend on national TV.
I personally don't miss the hate for old conference foes unless they show up in my mentions and that makes me a bit peculiar but I'm okay with that. If there was one thing I miss about the old league it's the quality of basketball competition - but then Missouri hasn't been very good at that for a while so maybe we're right at home.
Matt: Who should Mountaineer fans be looking at as a threat when the Tigers have the ball?
Oscar: We're operating under the assumption that Missouri, a team with a historically bad offense in 2015, has any "threats" to speak of but I digress.
I think Mountaineer fans should look for Oklahoma grad transfer running back Alex Ross to be a major factor on offense. The coaching staff has emphasized power running attack which looks to feature Ross as a lead back for the first time in his career. Ross is a big and fast and could also be dynamic in the return game.
My backup answer would be sophomore QB Drew Lock who despite a forgettable true freshman season has the tools of a prototypical NFL quarterback - that is to say he's tall, good looking, somewhat mobile, and has the arm talent to accurately place the ball anywhere on the field. Much of Missouri's 2016 potential hinges on the development he's made reading defenses and as a leader.
Matt: What are your expectations for Mizzou as a whole in 2016?
Oscar: I ranked this in order of how likely they are to actually happen:
6 wins and a bowl game
Upset a Power 5 team (hope it's you)
Upset a conference opponent (hope it's Tennessee)
Matt: How does this one shake out?
Oscar: A tough road game following a tumultuous season sees Missouri take a stout defense and improved offense into Morgantown where Barry Odom gets the first win of his young head coaching career, squeaking out a 24-21 victory.
Matt: Who would win in a fight between the original Power Rangers Megazord and Voltron?
Oscar: This is a good and important question. I did some research and while Megazord has the Power Sword it can only operate when all five Zords are in conjunction, the ability for Voltron to fight as five different vehicles plus their prior experience battling other mechas would give Voltron the edge.