The switch has been flipped from basketball to football, and I figure the best way to dip our toes back in the water is to revisit my 2009 Walkthrough series from January and see what has or hasn't changed since then. We start with QBs and RBs.
There's not much debate to this one. One nice thing Chase Daniel did for Mizzou fans at the tail end of his career was remind everybody that he is indeed human. Whoever wins the Gabbert/Costello/Dalton/Glaser race only has to replace a great quarterback, not a superhuman one, but the bar is still set extraordinarily high. This will make for fantastic intrigue this spring, as all four candidates seem to bring different strengths to the table, and needless to say, the upside involved here dwarfs the vaunted Dougherty/Farmer/Douglass/Propst* race of 1999.
(* This might not have been a race at all had Propst not broken his leg in 117 different places the spring before 1999. The coaches seemed to absolutely love that kid before the injury.)
What's Changed? Yeah, that whole thing about intrigue? Not so much. It's not that much of a surprise (71% of RMN readers figured he would win the job back in January), but it does appear that Blaine Gabbert has seized the reins for the '09 starting job and won't let go. While the true freshmen are predictably going through growing pains, Gabbert has simply been the best player in the green (or orange) jersey on just about every day.
In all, it seems that everything is playing according to stereotype. Gabbert is the 5-star recruit with the cannon arm who is still learning when and when not to trust his arm to make every throw in the book. Jimmy Costello is the scrappy walk-on with a decent arm and strong work ethic, scrapping for respect. Blaine Dalton and Ashton Glaser are the newbies, alternating between great plays and shaky ones. In that scenario, the 5-star stud wins the job just about every time.
The main question now becomes, does Jimmy Costello look good enough at #2 that the Mizzou staff considers redshirting both freshmen? Clearly that plan would be scrapped if Gabbert were to get injured, but it may be worth a try if Costello really is performing well enough to earn himself a scholarship.
Expected Spring Finish
1. Blaine Gabbert (So)
2. Jimmy Costello (So)
3. Blaine Dalton (Fr)
4. Ashton Glaser (Fr)
Photo from PowerMizzou's Dan Turner
The only departure from the Mizzou backfield is Jimmy Jackson, and while I loved #1 to death, it's not out of the realm of possibility that De'Vion Moore can match JJ's production. If that's the case, and if Derrick Washington is healthy and makes the typical improvement from his first year starting to his second, the Mizzou RB corps could be as strong as it's been under Gary Pinkel. And nothing settles down a young starting QB faster than a solid running game.
What's Changed? Well, first of all, we've had ourselves some personnel shuffling. Drew Temple is no longer with the team, apparently quitting for more playing time elsewhere. Meanwhile, failed defensive back and former 4-star recruit Gilbert Moye has moved from safety to running back and apparently feels liberated. He hasn't shown a ton in scrimmages just yet, but a) he's only been an RB for a month, and b) he still has more of an opportunity to contribute here than in the fourth-string defensive backfield.
What else has changed? Well, if you believe reports, De'Vion Moore has turned himself into quite the badass. Or at least badass in terms of a second-stringer. All the main beat writers have said that Moore is one of, if not the most improved player of the spring. He is the perfect complement for Derrick Washington if he can use his quickness and speed in a smart, patient way.
Meanwhile, that's about all we've learned thus far, as Washington's out for the spring after minor surgery and everybody has spent at least a little time in the red jerseys. That's led to walk-on Shawn Scott getting a few reps with the first string, and while that's always a fun story to follow, it doesn't mean Scott's going to be getting carries in the fall.
Expected Spring Finish
1. Derrick Washington (Jr)
2. De'Vion Moore (So)
3. Shawn Scott (Sr)
4. Gilbert Moye (So)
(You know what's fun? That only one of the eight players I just listed at QB and RB are seniors--and he's a walk-on. That's going to be an ongoing trend moving forward.)