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2009 Missouri Preview - Offense
Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 4, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Missouri Tiger Offense

Missouri Tigers

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Missouri Preview | 2009 Missouri Offense
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2009 Missouri Defense | 2009 Missouri Depth Chart
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2008 Missouri Preview | 2007 Missouri Preview | 2006 Missouri Preview 

What you need to know:
It might seem like new offensive coordinator David Yost was handed an empty bag with the loss of Chase Daniel, receivers Jeremy Maclin and Tommy Saunders, and Mackey Award tight end Chase Coffman. As tough as it might be to lose the stars, the passing game has the potential to be more dangerous, in time, with new quarterback Blaine Gabbert having a far better deep arm than Daniel to push the ball deeper. Derrick Washington and De'Vion Moore are special backs who should be fantastic behind one of the Big 12's best lines Three starters return up front, and one of the new ones, tackle Dan Hoch, could turn out to be the best of the lot. The receiving corps needs to get healthy, but there's plenty of speed, size, and upside. No, the O isn't going to finish fourth in the nation, sixth in scoring and eighth in yards, but it's going to be awfully good.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Blaine Gabbert
5-13, 43 yds
Rushing: Derrick Washington
177 carries, 1,036 yds, 17 TD
Receiving: Jared Perry
41 catches, 567 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense:
Junior RB Derrick Washington
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Blaine Gabbert
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Dan Hoch
Best pro prospect: Hoch
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Washington, 2) OG Kurtis Gregory, 3) C Tim Barnes
Strength of the offense: Running back, Line
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback experience, Sure-thing No. 1 receiver

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
Sophomore Blaine Gabbert has to do the near impossible and replace a legend in Chase Daniel, and while it might take a while to be the same sort of leader, if he can ever do it, he has better skills. With 6-5, 235-pound size and a cannon for a right arm, he's a prototype NFL passer with the ability to put the ball in places Daniel's arm had no prayer of reaching. While he's going to need playing time and lots of room to make mistakes, he's the type of passer the offense can work around for the next three seasons. While he's not going to be a runner by design, he has just enough mobility to take off.

Projected Top Reserves: Former walk-on Jimmy Costello doesn't have half the talent of Gabbert, but he has good 6-3, 225-pound size and he has more than held his own when given the chance in practice. The sophomore has been able to work his way into the No. 2 spot with a live, accurate arm and good running ability, but he'll most likely work as a practice quarterback and an emergency option with other backups looking to push hard for the backup job.

Looking like another Chase Daniel, but lighter, is 6-1, 190-pound true freshman Blaine Dalton, a top recruit who led his team to a Missouri high school state title before joining the team this spring. He's the runner in the mix with 1,164 yards and 14 scores last year, to go along with 2,335 passing yards and 24 scores, and while he doesn't have the arm of Gabbert, he's far more mobile and is accurate.

Ashton Glaser was the Arkansas Offensive Player of the Year last season after throwing for 3,169 yards and 31 scores in a spread attack. He's a perfect fit for the Mizzou offense with 6-2, 210-pound size and excellent running ability. He can throw well on the move and is comfortable in the pocket. While not the recruit that Dalton was, he's a good dual-threat prospect who'll get his chance over the next few seasons.
 
Watch Out For ... Gabbert to add another dimension to the Mizzou passing game. Of course the coaching staff would love for Gabbert to throw for 4,335 yards and 39 touchdowns while completing 73% of his passes like Daniel did, but there might be even more downfield throws. Gabbert will stretch the field on a regular basis while Daniel made more things happen by getting the ball to his targets on the move.
Strength: Talent. Gabbert has NFL potential with a huge arm, while Dalton and Glaser were nice recruits who'd be even more heralded in any other year. The Tigers have reloaded.
Weakness: Experience. 0-for-2, no yards, and 22 rushing yards. That's the returning experience from the quarterbacks.
Outlook: Brad Smith was supposed to be irreplaceable, and then Chase Daniel came along. Can Gabbert up the ante? He has the potential to be the best pro passer the program has ever had, but the offense needs accuracy and quick decision making ability. Those things will come with more live reps. Gabbert didn't set the world on fire this spring, but he was good enough to get excited about the opportunities.
Rating: 7.5


Running Backs

Projected Starter
:
Junior Derrick Washington had a good spring last year and then carried it over to the fall as he took the starting job by the horns and came up with an All-Big 12 season rushing for 1,036 yards and 17 touchdowns averaging 5.9 yards per try. With great hands, he almost never fumbles and was able to come up with 29 catches for 277 yards and two touchdowns. At 5-11 and 225 pounds, he's got enough size to power the ball when needed, and he has just enough speed to tear off yards in chunks. He's not a blazer, but he has effective wheels for the offense. The only question mark is whether or not he can be any type of a workhorse. He only ran the ball 177 times and never carried it more than 18 times in a game. Even so, he had a few problems with his knee requiring minor offseason surgery. With the new quarterback under center, the offense will rely on him even more.

Projected Top Reserves: With Washington out this spring, sophomore De'Vion Moore stepped up and showed he could become the main man for the running game if needed. The 5-9, 200-pounder showed off the quickness and speed that should make him more of a home run hitter after running for 231 yards and a touchdown in limited work, highlighted by a 55-yard dash against Colorado. A good receiver, he'll be used in a variety of different ways to get the ball in his hands.

Moving over from safety is 6-2, 215-pound sophomore Gilbert Moye to provide more athleticism and size to the backfield. Originally a top dual-threat quarterback prospect out of high school, he redshirted before spending last year on special teams. While he's buried on the depth chart, the coaching staff is going to make a concerted effort to get him the ball in some way.
 
Watch Out For ... Moore. Buried a bit last season and relegated to mop-up duties, he showed this offseason why he has to be used more. He's not the runner that Washington is, but he has the best overall combination of skills and athleticism in the backfield.
Strength: Quickness. Missouri recruits to a type. Its backs are all around 5-9 and 200 pounds with tremendous lateral quickness and speed through the hole. Washington is able to find the hole and burst through it for six yards a pop, while Moore can make things happen on his own and can fly through any opening.
Weakness: A workhorse. So what happens when the offense has to rely on the ground game for long stretches? The offense is reliant on the short to midrange pass instead of the running game, for the most part, and it'll likely go to a running back-by-committee approach from time to time. Washington isn't a 25-carry back. At least he hasn't done it yet.
Outlook: Last year at this time there was a concern about how the ground game would replace Tony Temple. Washington turned out to be better. Automatic around the goal line and consistent, he'll once again be a nice complement to the passing game while Moore will try to fill the void left by the loss of Jeremy Maclin by making more big plays.
Rating: 8


Receivers

Projected Starters
:
The receiving corps will turn out to be fine, but the biggest hole is at the H where Jeremy Maclin caught 102 passes. In will step Jerrell Jackson after making just nine catches for 98 yards in his limited action in his first season. The 6-1, 190-pound sophomore doesn't have Maclin's ability, but he's a polished target who should shine with the extra responsiblity.

Also gone is all-everything tight end Chase Coffman, who caught 90 passes to finish his great career with a whopping 247 grabs. 6-5, 245-pound sophomore Andrew Jones saw plenty of playing time late last year, starting against Kansas State, and finished with 20 grabs for 146 yards. A great recruit for the program last year, he was considered by Scout to be the state of Missouri's second best overall prospect, and he should step in for Coffman and be fine.

Tommy Saunders was third on the team with 72 catches at the Z, but Danario Alexander is a good target who should explode if he can finally stay healthy. The 6-5, 210-pound senior caught 26 passes for 329 yards, but he averaged 12.7 yards per grab and scored five times despite having problems with a knee injury. He missed spring ball to get healed up, and when he's right he'll be in the hunt for All-Big 12 honors.

Also missing time this spring was 6-1, 180-pound senior Jared Perry after trying to heal up a shoulder injury. He started in every game last season and is the leading returning receiver after catching 41 passes for 567 yards and four scores. A supreme deep threat, he should do even more now that the strong-armed Blaine Gabbert is under center. He has been lost in the shuffle so far with players like Maclin and Coffman getting the first looks, but that should change now.

Projected Top Reserves: Until Perry is healthy, former walk-on Brandon Green will work at the X. The 6-0, 175-pound sophomore was strong enough this spring to deserve a longer look in a fourth receiver role this fall after showing good deep speed and the consistency needed to be counted on. He earned his scholarship, and he should quickly pay off.

With Alexander trying to get to 100%, 6-4, 225-pound sophomore Wes Kemp got all the work at the Z this spring after working last year at the outside X. He only saw a little time in seven games and made one catch for 15 yards. With his combination of size and speed, he's a dangerous prospect who isn't going to going to give up a starting spot without a fight.

If Michael Egnew can get over an ankle injury, he'll be a key backup tight end who'll be a good receiver in time. The 6-6, 215-pound sophomore is a matchup nightmare with wide receiver speed, good hands, and excellent size, but he only made four catches for 22 yards last year and he has to get healthy.

Watch Out For ... Perry and Alexander to be stars. They've always had the talent, but they were hurt all of last year and tried to play through their problems. That there were other top targets didn't help the cause. One they're back in the mix, they'll come up with big seasons.
Strength: Upside. Perry and Alexander are just the start of a promising group that should grow as the new quarterbacks emerge. Andrew Jones is a big-time tight end prospect, and Kemp and Jackson will be great with more work.
Weakness: Maclin, Coffman, and Sanders. There might be some fantastic players ready to step in and shine, but it's hard to lose 264 catches, 3,080 yards and 40 touchdowns of production without taking a little bit of a hit.
Outlook: There's no way the receiving corps can be immediately as strong as the group that was among the best in the nation over the last few years, but it's going to be great in time. Perry and Alexander have to be healthy, and the great prospects brought in from strong recruiting classes over the last few years have to play up to their hype, but this isn't going to be the major problem it might appear to be after losing so much talent.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
TThree good starters are back on the line led by senior Kurtis Gregory, a second-team All-Big 12 performer at right guard where he started every game. The 6-5, 305-pounder has the athleticism of a tackle and has been strong enough to overcome several injury problems over the years to be a dependable. A leader for the line, he's very smart, very consistent, and very good.

6-4, 305-pound junior Tim Barnes stepped in at center and showed why he was considered such a top recruit a few years ago. Still emerging and still improving, he earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors and appears ready to be the next star Tiger center now that he knows what he's doing. Originally a guard, he could move if absolutely needed, but he'll be too valuable in the middle.

Sophomore Elvis Fisher earned All-Freshman honors after keeping Chase Daniel clean. One of the team's biggest surprises, he not only started every game, but he looked like a polished veteran with good athleticism to go along with his 6-5, 300-pound size. He's a rock in pass protection.


6-7, 315-pound sophomore Dan Hoch is about to become a superstar at right tackle. A massive blocker with a huge wingspan, he was dominant at times this spring after getting over a minor knee injury. He saw time in every game as a true freshman after being named the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year in 2007. He was considered by almost everyone as the top prospect to come out of Iowa, and now he appears to be ready to earn All-Big 12 honors.


The biggest loss up front is at left guard where Ryan Madison is gone after starting every game. Academic all-star Austin Wuebbels will take over after seeing time in ten games at both guard spots, and while he'll still have to be consistent to keep the job he won in spring ball, he has excellent upside. The 6-4, 300-pound sophomore is a good run blocker and is strong on the move.

Projected Top Reserves: While he won't be a starter unless Tim Barnes gets hurt of moves over to guard J.T. Beasley is a good backup center with the talent to shine if he gets his change. The 6-4, 295-pound sophomore, who was a finalist for Tennessee's Mr. Football, was one of the team's highest rated recruits two years ago and has looked the part in practices.

6-2, 305-pound sophomore Jayson Palmgren was a key backup at left guard last season and will push Wuebbels for time. A good, tough run blocker, he can step in and start without a problem and will be a good reserve on either side. He's a mauler.
 
Watch Out For ... Hoch. He was a tremendous recruit for the program and he appears to be ready to shine. He's too big to get around and he's growing as a run blocker. It'll be a shock if he's not an all-star this year.
Strength: Talent. Missouri is becoming a factory. For all the good recruits being brought in over the last few years by Gary Pinkel and his staff, the offensive line might be the biggest overall improvement. Lose one good starter, replace him with another great prospect ready to shine. The line will be a rock again.
Weakness: Veteran depth. This was a problem last year and it continues to be a bit of an issue. That's not to say there isn't talent waiting in the wings, but there isn't a lot of experience to count on if injuries strike.
Outlook: The line was fantastic last season in pass protection, partly because of the style of offense and the quick decision making ability of Chase Daniel, and it should be even better with three starters returning and a new star in Hoch on the outside. As long as everyone stays healthy, this will be one of the team's bigger strengths.
Rating: 8