In our ongoing, relatively free-flowing Mizzou 2009 series, it's time to start asking some questions. Over the coming week or two, I'll ask three burning questions about each unit. Naturally, #11 and the rest of the QBs are up first.
2008 Unit Ranking: #11 in the nation (#4 in the Big 12)
Projected Depth Chart
Since there is, barring injury, about a 0.5% chance of someone other than Blaine Gabbert starting against Illinois in just over three weeks (!!), the main questions to ask about the quarterbacking position a week into camp are as follows:
Who wins the backup job (and who redshirts)? Blaine Dalton and Ashton Glaser were both in for spring practice, with the idea being that they'd be rather overwhelmed in April but ready to compete in August. So one of the most interesting parts of August has thus far been keeping an eye on who is progressing faster between the two of them, and whether Jimmy Costello can hold either or both off and win the second-string job. My only first-person view of the three potential backups was during the spring game, and not surprisingly none of them looked particularly good manning the second- or third-team offense against the first- or second-team defense. That's a relative no-win situation for the QB, being protected by walk-on linemen against starters or top backups, but you at least got quick glimpses of their skill set.
From what I gleaned in the spring, and what we've read so far in August, it sounds like Costello has a pretty good grip on the #2 job, which brings up an interesting sub-question (consider it Question #1A): do you stick Dalton or Glaser in the #3 spot and just not play him unless there's an injury? I like the thought of Dalton and Glaser having different years of eligibility, but that in and of itself is not a reason to not redshirt somebody.
Speaking of the "unless there's an injury" part of that...
How much of an injury risk is Blaine Gabbert? As I've mentioned before, Gabbert was hurt during his senior year of high school, and he got banged up a bit during two-a-days last year. That is the smallest of small sample sizes, but it is at least a tiny red flag that maybe Gabbert is a bit injury-prone, and it also brings something else up: since Kirk Farmer was marching around in a Mizzou uniform, breaking every bone in his body, Mizzou has had pretty good luck at QB. Brad Smith and Chase Daniel both missed plays here and there (and in a way, even the injuries worked in Mizzou's favor--if Smith hadn't gotten hurt in the fourth quarter against Iowa State in 2005, Daniel wouldn't have come in and Mizzou probably wouldn't have made their 10-point comeback), but they didn't ever miss a full game. Are we due? And if we lose Gabbert for any sort of extended period of time, how much does that impact expectations? It's been suggested that, for fear of injury, Gabbert should be reined in regarding running the ball. I say, screw that. He needs to play how he needs to play, injury or none...I'll just keep my fingers crossed that he's more Daniel than Farmer.
Will there be an alternate (i.e. Wildcat/WildTiger/WildWhatever) package installed? As a teenager holding a joint might say in an after-school special from 1983, everybody's doing it, man. With a less proven (for now, anyway) option starting at QB for Missouri, will the coaches look toward Derrick Washington, or the mobile Blaine Dalton, or even maybe T.J. Moe, to man a Wildcat-style formation, with a small base set of plays? Not really advocating for or against the idea, but you have to figure it's at least a consideration. Both MotherRucker and Jeremy Maclin took direct snaps the last couple of years--who, if anybody, will it be this year?