So much to talk about, so many thoughts floating around in my head...we'll try to empty them all out at some point, but in the meantime my Google Reader had over 1000 links waiting for me last night, about 800 of which were football-related...which means we've got some links to share too. We'll start with Mizzou links, then maybe some Big 12 and national links later in the day.
(Oh, and question for ESPN: In one of your many networks, can we get a one-hour college football highlights show that shows nothing but highlights? No analysis, no ridiculous "Final Verdict" in which Lou Holtz gets to spend one-sixth of the show telling you why Notre Dame is going to win the national title, no helmet stickers, no nothing? You can keep Gameday Final exactly how it is--clearly some people enjoy this sort of thing--but in the meantime, can you do the nerds a favor too? I end up fast-forwarding through half of the hour just so I can watch the 12 minutes of highlights scattered among the ridiculousness--I'm a junkie. Can you please help me out here?)
(And thanks for the helmet sticker, Mark May, ahem. You owed us that after saying Juice Williams was the "Rodney Dangerfield of quarterbacks" before the game. Yes, the problem with Juice is that he just hasn't gotten enough respect. Uh huh.)
Okay, fine. First, some more pre-link thoughts.
The similarities between Gabbert's debut against Illinois and Daniel's sort-of-debut against Ole Miss in 2006 (we had already played a game that year, but it was against Murray State, so it didn't really count) are staggering. Not just the stat lines, though they were pretty similar...
Daniel vs Ole Miss (2006): 24-for-40, 243 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 13 carries, 89 yards, 1 TD
Gabbert vs Illinois (2009): 25-for-33, 319 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 10 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD
...never mind that Gabbert's stats were actually better than Daniel's (we'll see about whether he can put together better TD-INT numbers than Daniel down the line, or overall points per game, but the yards per pass figures should absolutely be higher under Gabbert than Daniel...good god, his arm strength was staggering yesterday), the buzz was just the same. Remember: back in 2006, Mizzou was picked to finish 5th in the North (just like they were this year by Phil Steele), and their first real opponent of the year was an Ole Miss team that finished four games worse than Mizzou in 2005. Despite actual evidence at hand, Mizzou was picked to lose that game on the way to a crash-and-burn season. Instead they dominated with huge defense and staggeringly-good QB play. Any of that sound familiar? Any of that at all? We'll see how Illinois does the rest of the way, but without Benn, they really might not have been any better than Ole Miss was in 2006. Even if that's the case, the complete domination Mizzou showed was both fun and telling.
Moving ahead, I am very interested to see what happens when a) Gabbert learns and grows, and b) other teams get film on Gabbert. He will improve, just as defenses will improve against him. Whichever of those two factors improves faster will dictate whether Mizzou ends up 10-2 or 8-4 like in 2006 (yes, less than 8-4 is stil possible--this was just one game--but we're not going to think about that until it becomes more realistic), whether this ends up being a third straight North title season or simply a fun transition year before making noise in 2010 and 2011.
Mizzou 37, Illinois 9
- KC Star: Missouri rolls over Illinois 37-9
- Chicago Tribune: Arrelious Benn goes down, Illinois goes out 37-9
- Daily Illini: Tigers crush Illini in season opener
- MUtigers.com: Gabbert Shines in Season Opening Victory Over Illinois, 37-9
- Sporting News: Blaine Gabbert shows juice to carry Missouri
- The Maneater: Tigers, Gabbert shine in season opener
- PowerMizzou: Sunday Grade Card
Holy Crap, Gabbert
KC Star (Jason Whitlock): MU's Gabbert worth gushing over (nobody goes overboard, good or bad, like Mr. Whitlock)
Oh. My. God. Not since I first laid eyes on an 11-year-old Jeff George has a quarterback captured my football imagination the way Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert did Saturday afternoon with his destruction of the Illinois Fighting Illini.
OMG. A second soulmate, this late in my football fascination, could it really be?...
It was just one game, against poor-throwing Juice Williams and poor-coaching Ron Zook. I know.
But Gabbert’s tools are undeniable. In Mizzou’s 37-9 romp, Gabbert took turns impersonating Dan Marino, Tim Tebow and Big Ben Roethlisberger.
Gabbert connected on 25 of 33 passes for 319 yards and three TDs. He ran the ball 10 times for 39 yards and a score. The kid from the St. Louis suburbs, the kid who missed most of his high school senior season and sat patiently behind Daniel as a Missouri freshman, exuded the kind of poise, confidence and star quality you’d expect from Tim Tebow.
- The Trib: Smashing debut for Gabbert, Tigers
- PowerMizzou: A New Era
Post-Dispatch (Bryan Burwell): Gabbert looks like real deal
Sometimes my job is to be a voice of measured reason and studied reluctance. When everyone else is slobbering like an overexcited puppy, I get paid to be the voice that screams out loud and clear: "Slow your roll!"
But today is not that day.
Blaine Gabbert really is something special.
- The Missourian: Gabbert answers doubts in Missouri win over Illinois
- Belleville News-Democrat: Gabbert shines in his debut
- The Maneater: Gabbert slices through Illini defense
From Dave Matter's Twitter page: "Good stat for stat geeks: @BlaineGabbert's QB rating today (187.0) was better than 34 of Chase Daniel's 41 career starts. Not a bad debut"
More after the jump!
Defense looked pretty good too!
- Post-Dispatch: Mizzou's "Scorpion" stings Illini
- The Missourian: Defense improves in 37-9 win over Illini
- Chicago Tribune: Missouri defense stuffs Illinois
- PowerMizzou: PMTV: Steckel's defense dominates
- The Trib: Tigers reloaded for bear in 2009
Post-Dispatch: Quick-change artists
But by the time the Tigers had shredded Illinois 37-9, the tone of the questions already was changing radically:
Might MU be as good, or better, than it has been the last few years?
Even with MU mercifully sitting him for its final three possessions, Gabbert threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 39 more and another TD.
"That was pretty good," MU coach Gary Pinkel said, grinning and adding that Gabbert's mobility "can put a lot of pressure on a defense that Chase Daniel couldn't. Don't tell Chase I said that."
Campus Corner (KC Star): Mizzou in the North
A few national pundits, and more than a few regional ones from down Texas way - need to go back an re-read their tea leaves.
Even MU Coach Gary Pinkel couldn't stop himself from saying "I told you so."
More disappointment for Illinois
- The Trib: Williams, Illini offense struggle in loss
- Hail to the Orange: DIsappointment, to say the very least: Illini fall to Mizzou again
- Chicago Sun-Times: Dazed and confused, but not ready to panic
- Chicago Sun-Times: All for one: Sick day for Illini
Decatur Herald & Review: Ugly with a capital UG!
Special teams? Bad, as usual.
Coaching? What coaching?
- Decatur Herald & Review: Only 'backers are remotely bright spot
- Decatur Herald & Review: Illini look the fools
- Daily Herald: Again with the ILL in Illinois
- Belleville News-Democrat: Missouri hands Illinois another football defeat
ESPN.com (in-game blog update): Illinois getting crushed by Mizzou
I don't do much trading on Wall Street, but the Illini remind me of a sexy stock. You want to invest big money, but something tells you to hold off. I bought in a bit toward the end of the preseason, but something clearly isn't clicking in Champaign. Bottom line: Illinois has to find a way to bring things together in a hurry.
- KC Star: Derrick Washington stops dancing and starts running
- The Trib: Receivers up to challenge against Illini
- Post-Dispatch: Grant Ressel gives MU solid start as kicker