Reporters' Round Table: October 16

Inside Mizzou has a full panel this week, with Missouri reporters discussing last week's win at Nebraska, the kicking game situation and much more.

Today, we have a full panel: Columbia Daily Tribune writer Dave Matter, KOMU/Channel 8-Columbia sports anchor Bob Ballou, Columbia Missourian writer Justin Jarrett, WHB/810-Kansas City sports host Joe Aaron and KMIZ/Channel 17-Columbia sports anchor Beau Baehman.

1) Did Missouri need that loss at Kansas to do as well as it did in against Nebraska?

MATTER: I'm not sure you ever need a loss, but I think losing to Kansas helped the staff re-evaluate how they were going to attack on offense, and it gave the players some hunger that wasn't there at the beginning of the season. On the other hand, I'm guessing if MU was 5-0 heading into the Nebraska game, there still would have been some major incentives during the two-week break to change some things up for the Cornhuskers.

BALLOU: Yes...and no. Yes because they were obviously a completely different team than they were two weeks prior in Lawrence. And they probably felt like they had something to prove. No because you should never ever need a loss to do well. The close game against Middle Tennessee State should've been enough.

JARRETT: I think it did because it took that loss to get Pinkel to open up the playbook. The scare against Middle Tennessee State wasn't enough, but the KU loss opened a lot of eyes. Also, I think it took an actual trip from the penthouse to the outhouse for Pinkel to get it through to the players.

AARON: It certainly didn't hurt in the sense that it woke the coaching staff up to open the offense up two or three notches. Had they overcome a relatively weak KU defense in a nail-biter, Gary Pinkel may not have had the razzle-dazzle urgency we saw Saturday night against Nebraska.

BAEHMAN: I think it did do the team well. It seemed to wake up the Tigers.

2) How different will the Oklahoma offense be with Jason White at the helm rather than last year with Hybl at quarterback?

MATTER: It's the same offense. I just think White is a little more accurate and gambles with risky passes less often than Hybl did. Hybl put up some impressive numbers last year, but the OU staff has always had a preference for White.

BALLOU: White's obviously a lot better. He's all over magazine covers, he's being named the Heisman frontrunner, etc. But the offense really doesn't change a whole lot. They'll still do a lot of the same things they did a year ago - they just execute them a lot better.

AARON: Okay, time to pat myself on the back! I predicted Jason White was going to have an outstanding year, and he may just win the Heisman if he continues to play the way he has and the Sooners run the table. White is a bona fide NFL caliber passer and is very, very smart. The Sooners are hitting on all cylinders right now, so lets hope Oklahoma has an emotional let-down after last week's dominating win against Texas.

BAEHMAN: White seems to be right on his game while Hybl was prone to big mistakes.

3) What's the best Missouri game you've ever seen?

MATTER: It's hard to top last Saturday night. It was nice to see players like Ricker, Outlaw and McCoy finally get to enjoy a game like that.

BALLOU: 1997 against Nebraska. Cliche as it is, I get the feeling I'll never ever see a better game than that.

JARRETT: The 1997 Nebraska game was the most exciting I've seen. No other game has kept me on the edge of my seat (actually I spent a good part of the fourth quarter and overtime on the floor) like that one did. Loyal Tigers fans might be a little more partial to this past week's Nebraska game, though, for obvious reasons.

AARON: Easy question after Saturday nights colossal win against Nebraska! However, the '97 loss to Nebraska stands-out as well. I've probably never been so tuned-in to a game as I was in that '97 loss. But Sat. was definitely special!

BAEHMAN: The fifth down game with Colorado.

4) What's going on with Missouri's kickers and punters?

MATTER: They're just completely inconsistent. It's maddening to see Harvey boot a 60-yard punt and come back with a 25-yarder. There's only so much these guys can practice kicking, I just think it's a matter of focus during the games.

BALLOU: They are really, really, really struggling. Mike Matheny started slow, but it's his kickoffs that are really causing problems. Kicking the ball out of bounds is a killer. And Brock Harvey has fallen off the rack. He was finally pulled for Todd Gohsler - who really didn't punt that much better. And the really strange thing is - both had solid years last year, and have regressed...something Gary Pinkel says he's never seen happen.

JARRETT: That's one that makes you shake your head. Who knows? Pinkel and his staff clearly don't. I think this situation is a good case for having actual special teams coaches. Matheny has made it clear that Yost doesn't have any idea about the mechanics of kicking and I'm guessing Andy Hill doesn't know much about punting, either.

AARON: It's been painful to watch, and lets hope it doesn't come back and bite them in the butt before its over. Brock Harvey appears to have lost all confidence and that of his coaches and teammates as well. Maybe getting benched on national TV will help to regain his focus. Matheny on the other hand, I think, will be fine but we have to remember he's just an adequate kicker at best.

BAEHMAN: Like Coach Pinkel said the other day...they are definitely regressing.

5) With half the season over, which team do you think will win the Big 12 North and South and why?

MATTER: The North is still completely up for grabs. Here's each contenders three toughest games: K-State (CU, at Neb., MU), CU (at K-State, OU, Neb.), Neb (A&M, at UT, K-State), MU (at OU, Tech, at K-State), KU (at K-State, Neb, at OSU). Based on that, I'd say Kansas State has the easiest road, followed by Nebraska. But who knows at this point. The South will go to the Sooners, unless OSU beats them in Norman on Nov. 1.

BALLOU: Big 12 South - Oklahoma. This team is awesome. If they are upset again by OSU and lose to someone else, who knows...but I don't see that happening.

Big 12 North - Nebssourado State. Why? Because there's no way Kansas wins it, no way Iowa State wins it. I don't care if K-State is 0-2, they've still got a shot. I've been saying all year Nebraska isn't as good as everyone's giving them credit for, and Colorado isn't good at all (you lose to Baylor, you aren't good). Missouri has a tough schedule...but the winner of the north could really be a 2 or even 3 loss team.

JARRETT: I think Oklahoma will win the South hands down. The North is a little more wide-open. I think Nebraska still has the best shot, but Kansas looks pretty good, and, who knows, Missouri could get on a roll. After the OU game, everyone on MU's schedule is beatable. The Tigers would need some help, though.

AARON: I still think it will come down to Nebraska and K-State for the Big 12 North, but neither team is a lock by any means! Mizzou is right there, but there are some deficiencies on defense that will have to be worked out by this weekend and next or there could be trouble.

BAEHMAN: team in America. North-Nebraska...they could lose two league games and still win it...but it is WIDE open.

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