Reporters' Round Table: Oct. 6

Missouri reporters Dave Matter, Bob Ballou and Beau Baehman break down the most surprising and most disappointing players of the season and their favorite Nebraska game of all time.

In this week's Reporters' Round Table, we have: Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune, Bob Ballou of KOMU/Channel 8 in Columbia and Beau Baehman of KMIZ/Channel 17 in Columbia.

1) Which player has surprised you the most so far?

MATTER: If you mean surprised in a good way, I'd say J.D. McCoy, partially because no one has really surprised me in a positive manner. McCoy has played like a legit pass-catching tight end, and his fourth-down catch against Middle Tennessee State was the biggest play of the season at that point. Plus, MU is 4-0 with him on the field; 0-1 with him on crutches.

BALLOU: On defense, C.J. Mosley. He had a pretty good year last year, but already has 4 1/2 sacks and 8 1/2 tackles, surpassing Russ Bell as the starter. On offense, J.D. McCoy. I think the offense certainly missed him against Kansas. With all the off-season jabber about who would emerge as MU's tight end, not many said it would be McCoy. But he's improved his catching ability and definitely become the number one guy.

BAEHMAN: JD seems like every time the Tigers need a clutch catch he's the one there. The catch he made for a TD against Middle Tennessee was awesome and then the fourth down catch was even better.

2) Do you expect significant changes to the offense for Nebraska?

MATTER: Gary Pinkel's not going to start running the wishbone, but I expect some subtle changes, especially in the passing game. It's not like receivers aren't running deep routes, they're just never open and Brad Smith hasn't tried too many downfield throws. I expect he might try a few more against Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers' pass rush could dictate how much downfield passing the Tigers can try. If the Tigers can establish the running game with Abron -- like they did against Kansas -- Smith can be more effective with play-action passes and possibly find some deep receivers. But he won't have much time or room for error against Nebraska.

BALLOU: No. They may try and throw downfield a little more, and lose a bit of the conservative-ness. But when has Gary Pinkel ever changed anything drastically that he's done? He's set in his system, and I don't expect that to change.

BAEHMAN: I think we'll see the Tigers run a little more and probably try to throw downfield to loosen up the Husker defense.

3) Will Missouri be prepared to face Nebraska's option offense?

MATTER: Nebraska has a new offensive coordinator in Barney Cotton, but the option's still the option. The Tigers looked vulnerable against the option against Middle Tennessee and Kansas, but they know what to expect from Nebraska. Defending the option puts Missouri's outside safeties, Jason Simpson and Dedrick Harrington, in the spotlight, and anything less than strong showings from them could spell disaster.

BALLOU: Everyone is prepared for it - the bigger problem is actually stopping it. Gary Pinkel stresses preparation more than just about I definitely think they'll be prepared. But can they stop it?

BAEHMAN: BAEHMAN: They better be.

4) Which player has been the biggest disappointment so far?

MATTER: This list is longer than No. 1. Brock Harvey has had some nice punts, but too many 27-yarders puts the defense in awful field position. Sean Coffey has been virtually invisible at times. The secondary has made some improvements, but just one interception in five games hasn't helped. It's hard to knock Damien Nash when he's still coming back from a major knee injury, but he hasn't contributed much yet.

BALLOU: Brock Harvey. And that has a lot to do with the expectations Pinkel set for him. He's a preseason Ray Guy Award candidate, yet only averaging 38.6 yards per punt. That's 88th in the nation. Of his 25 punts, only 12 have been either inside the 20 or fair caught.

BAEHMAN: The receivers. The passing game needs to pick it up for Mizzou to succeed.

5) What's your favorite Missouri-Nebraska game of all time?

MATTER: I was about two months old the last time Missouri beat Nebraska, so there haven't been a lot of great memories. As dramatic as the '97 kick-and-catch game was, the loss in Lincoln in 2000 embodies all the misfortune the Missouri program has endured the last few decades The Tigers outgained the Huskers but the lasting image was Kirk Farmer, Sean Doyle and John Dausman being carted off the field as Nebraska won 42-24.

BALLOU: 1997. Obviously not my favorite because of the result, but because I can confidently say that I will probably never see another game that good ever.

BAEHMAN: 1938...In his fourth try, Don Faurot finally beats Nebraska 13-10. It would start a stretch where the Tigers won four of five games from the Huskers in the next five years.

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