Much like we did last week with Buffalo, Dawg Sports caught up with Bill Connelly, who is the proprietor of Rock M Nation, SB Nation's Mizzou blog (and a damn fine blog, if I do say so myself), ahead of this Saturday's Georgia-Missouri game.
As we all know by now (and ESPN won't stop telling you in case you forget), this will be Mizzou's first SEC game, and it's at home, so they're gonna go bonkers and fill out their stadium. (So, in other words, it'll be just like the atmosphere at every SEC stadium outside the state of Kentucky... or, well, at least as loud as the 10th-largest SEC stadium can get.)
But all Tiger trolling aside, Bill was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us regarding Saturday's showdown. These are his answers:1) How healthy is James Franklin? Did he really get hit at all during the Southeast Louisiana game? How do you think he'll be able to hold up during this game and the long SEC season?
He's fine. He looked a little rusty on Saturday in a "first game of the season" kind of way, and he misfired on a few passes when the torrential rain began, but the offseason "How injured is Franklin's shoulder?" storyline virtually vanished on the first day of practice. It was almost annoying, really: spend a ton of summer energy worrying about one thing, then finding out it's not a "thing" at all.
2) Based on his first-game performance, is Dorial Green-Beckham (DGB) the real deal, or is he still settling into the pace of the college game?
We'll find out more on Saturday. He was certainly ready for the "pace" of Southeastern Louisiana's defense -- he caught all three catchable (i.e. not behind him or 10 yards out of bounds) passes thrown his way, two on well-covered screens and once on a really, really easy-looking third-down fade route. But it goes without saying that the competition takes a step up on Saturday.
3) Everyone around here has primarily been talking about Mizzou's offense, but who should we be most concerned about on the Tigers' defense?
You probably already know his name: tackle Sheldon Richardson. He was a Top 5 recruit according to Rivals in the 2009 recruiting class, and after struggling with injuries through much of his first post-JUCO season last fall, he has looked mostly dominant in the last five to six games.
I've long held that nothing makes your defense look better than a dominant defensive tackle (I have held that theory since basically the night Ndamukong Suh dominated three Missouri offensive linemen at once, all night long, in a loss to Nebraska), and Richardson's a good one. Really, the entire front seven is at least solid.
The Tigers have three strong ends, Richardson, and three solid linebackers. Depth is a concern at tackle, and there are still some unanswered questions at the safety position, but Richardson in particular is good enough that he's allowed to shoot his mouth off from time to time.
4) Some folks think Gary Pinkel and Mark Richt are generally a lot alike. How hot is Gary Pinkel's hot seat? Is is merely kind of hot or is it smoking hot? Could you please give some examples of things Gary Pinkel has lost control of? Thanks in advance.
Gary Pinkel was Mark Richt before Mark Richt was Mark Richt. After a terribly disappointing 2004 season, Pinkel's seat was quite hot, and Mizzou fans remained annoyed about 2004 well into the subsequent rebound. Even now, he's TOO STUBBORN!!! and CAN'T WIN THE BIG GAME (OTHER THAN THE ONES HE'S WON)!!!
Luckily, even the most intolerant Mizzou fans now know they cannot legitimately call for his head. So instead, they call for the offensive coordinator's head every time Mizzou punts. You have BLAME BOBO, we have FIRE YOST. (They're too scared of the former Marine who holds the defensive coordinator position to call for HIS head. So they just call for Yost's head every time opponents score touchdowns, too.)
(Ed. Note: FIRE MIKE BOBO. And yes, I'm kind of scared of Todd Grantham. That is all.)
5) Why is everybody in such a dang hurry nowadays? Why can't teams just run the ball and be happy with 3 yards and a cloud of dust? (Old Man questions...)
I'll say this much: the last time Sheldon Richardson shot his mouth off (against Texas), he backed it up (Mizzou won, 17-5). I'll roll my eyes and forgive him as long as he brings his A-game.
Thanks to Bill from Rock M Nation for participating! And if you're not familiar with his extensive writing at other SB Nation sites, such as Football Study Hall and his every-FBS-team preview at the mothership, you need to check it out. Like, now. The guy is good.