Leadership, talent, wins. How will all of those voids be filled by the Missouri Tiger football team? While Tiger fans and the media ask those questions, head coach Gary Pinkel is confident he has the answers.
The Tigers have lost 40 seniors in the last two seasons and are coming off of back to back 10 win seasons, the first in Mizzou football history. Of course there are going to be concerns, but as Pinkel pointed out at the Big 12 Football Media Days in Dallas, TX, he and his staff didn’t just wake up one day and realize they wouldn’t have Chase Daniel or Chase Coffman, or that Jeremy Maclin was leaving. The Tigers have been building for this moment. There’s no doubt that Pinkel and his staff continued to recruit top players to fill those holes. Missouri built talent on recruiting and there is no reason to believe they recruited less talented players after these past graduating classes.
Pinkel started his press conference by saying that strength and conditioning coach Pat Ivey called this year’s team the hardest working group of players. Many of the questions seem to center on how the offense would survive without Daniel and a new offensive coordinator.
I think the message that Pinkel is trying to convey to fans is don’t compare Blaine Gabbert to last year’s Chase Daniel, but compare him to Chase Daniel the sophomore. In other words, Pinkel said their offensive philosophy isn’t going to change, but the play calling and strategy they employ will look more like the way they ran things when Daniel took over for Brad Smith. Pinkel is absolutely right, Gabbert would not be able to run the same offense that Chase ran last year, but neither would Daniel the sophomore. In other words, David Yost will call plays that favor and play into Gabbert’s skill sets and ability as a sophomore.
In addition to simplifying (for lack of a better word) the offense, the Tigers according to Pinkel, are faster overall than the team last year. Speed trumps experience. Opponents may know what the Tigers are going to do, but they still have to catch ’em.
Pinkel said this may be the best running back tandem the Tigers have had in a long time. Expect Derrick Washington to run the ball more and look for him to catch the ball out of the backfield. He, along with De’Vion Moore, will allow the Tigers more options out of the backfield. Plus, keep this in mind, Gabbert is a better runner than Daniel.
More team speed, a simplistic approach to the offense, and a talented backfield, will all ease Gabbert into that role of starting quarterback.