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Missouri coaches keep talking up Marvin Zanders. Might he see the field a bit this fall?

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He barely saw the field in 2015, but he could give Josh Heupel a different type of toy to play with in 2016.

Marvin Zanders after practice

Marvin Zanders

6’1, 185, So.

Jacksonville, FL

Oscar Gamble: Barry Odom has made a point to say that Marvin Zanders has looked better in practices and even mentioned him by name at Missouri’s availability at SEC Media Days a few weeks ago. It seems like a concerted effort to keep the talented play-maker invested and in Columbia.

The comparison I hear most about Zanders is a faster James Franklin or Brad Smith, neither of which should be considered negative. Being a dual-threat QB is pretty much the norm in modern college football and probably a natural fit in the type of offense new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel wants to run.

My concern about Zanders has always been about his accuracy on mid to long passes as they tend to flutter and sail. That kind of issue tends to lead to a lack of confidence from the coaches and stalled drives for the offense. Now, we’ve heard that Zanders has made strides and Missouri may use him this fall, which sounds great on paper - but in practiced has seen limited success.

davidcmorrison: The fact that coaches have even given lip service to Zanders improving and seeing the field is a big step forward for him.

In the past, Zanders discussion had been relegated to the realm of “open” quarterback competitions that were about as open to Zanders as Quinton’s is to downtown Columbia (still salty...) and a wink-nudge type deal that just maybeeeee Missouri had a little something up its sleeve to get him involved.

It did not. Unless you count three zone-read handoffs against Mississippi State that Gary Pinkel somewhat confusingly said were designed for the suspended-unsuspended-suspended Maty Mauk.

Heupel’s a new coordinator who needs to try new things in order to improve upon this offense. He’s also a coordinator that has not been shy about using multiple quarterbacks (Landry Jones and Blake Bell anyone? How about Chuckie Keeton and Kent Myers?) in the past. Couple that with the fact that, with Mauk gone, Zanders has a marketable skill that is significantly better than anyone else on the roster: his legs.

If Zanders is ever getting a chance to prove himself at Missouri, this is the year.

Sam Snelling: I’ll be honest in saying that I love a dual-threat quarterback. I loved Brad Smith, I loved James Franklin, and I loved Chase Daniel (with his underrated running ability). I think Lock is similar to Chase in that he’s an underrated athlete and will be able to use his legs more than you might expect.

But I’m excited about the prospect of seeing more of Marvin Zanders this season. His ability to breakaway from defenders is something we really haven’t seen since Smith. I don’t know how much Odom and Heupel plan on using him, but I do think it would be a great move to get him in early and get him some confidence to know that he’ll be expected to contribute.

TheRonDavis: I think Mizzou fans were begging to try something else last year. It might have been good for Lock to fight through a year of adversity, but Zanders could have made a play or two that could have at least excited the offense.

We have no idea what to expect from him in a game, but Barry Odom spoke highly of him as a quarterback at SEC Media Days. If his growth as a quarterback, not necessarily an athlete, is there, he should at least get a series or two per half. If Zanders is in the game and the defense can respect his ability to throw, that can open up endless possibilities for Odom and staff.

Bill C.: I'm still confused by those Mississippi State carries. If it was a true zone read, in which he had the option of keeping the ball, then I think he made the wrong read every time. He had room to tuck and run and did not.

Might that mean that the runs were designed to go to the running back? And if THAT's the case, then ... what the heck was he even doing in the game?

It was strange, is what I'm saying.

Zanders has been a spring game all-star a couple of different times, and if the coaches are correct that his passing and command of an offense are coming along, then that's pretty exciting. As David mentioned above, Heupel has proven willing to adapt and empty the toolbox when he's had QBs with different skill sets. Lock is almost certainly the starter, but a short-yardage or red zone package with Zanders is intriguing. If, you know, he actually tucks and runs sometimes.