Mizzou Offense Puts on Show at Spring Game
Junior QB Chase Patton was one of the stories of the day as he clearly put himself in the driver` s seat for the position of 2nd team QB behind Chase Daniel. Patton, who threw for more than 190 yards with 2 TDs and an INT looked the best I have seen him as a Tiger. He looked very comfortable (something missing in previous years) both as a leader and running the team showing good decision making and good accuracy and zip on his passes. He also looked good using his feet to make plays when he had to. In previous outings he looked tentative and a little confused about the offense he was running. Not this time. He was sharp and enthusiastic during his reps. He clearly displayed that he could get the job done. Especially with the weapons he would have surrounding him should the unthinkable happen and starter Chase Daniel goes down to injury.
Red-shirt Fr. QB Dominic Grooms also showed some flashes of what he could bring to the team in the future, both running and passing the ball. Grooms threw for a TD and made a nice run for another during his time behind center. Grooms is probably the best running threat among the quarterbacks. I think you will see the battle for number two continue in the fall between Patton and Grooms.
RB Tony Temple looks ready for a breakout senior season. He made a pretty nine-yard run the first time he touched the ball. Temple is using all aspects of his gam,e showing some nifty moves, great speed and quickness and lowering his head and showing some of the same power he did at the end of last year. During one run in particular he lowered the boom on safety Justin Garrett -- known as big hitter -- and ran him over as Garrett hung on for the tackle.
Jimmy Jackson and Marcus Woods continue to look like capable back-ups during their touches running the ball today. For the 2007 season, however, it is Tony Temple` s world.
One of the reason the offense looked so explosive and Patton had such a good day is the great depth and talent at receiver. Will Franklin did his thing, catching a TD and looking good after a couple of early drops. Jason Ray and Tommy Saunders made some nice catches as did Denario Alexander, Jeremy Maclin, Jared Perry and Greg Bracey.
We all know what TE`s Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman can do, but it was nice to see Jon Gissinger make some nice plays and show that he is another capable target at TE as he and Patton hooked up a few times.
It was hard to tell just how good the Offensive Line played today. I don`t know if they were that good or if the D-line is in trouble. Either way they keep opposing lineman away from the Tiger QB` s for the most part and allowed some good running lanes for the Tiger backs. OL`s who caught my eye were Dain Wise OT, Monte Wyrick OG, James Stigall OG, Colin Brown OT and Ryan Madison OG. The Tigers look like they have some quality young lineman who will provide depth.
The strengths of the defense could very well become the linebackers and safeties. Sean Weatherspoon will be a stud for the Tigers along with Christopher, but the LB whose play surprised me the most was Steve Redmond. Redmond showed great intensity and made plays, including a great hit on Will Franklin where he de-cleated him and planted him into the turf of Faurot Field. I don` t know what has lit a fire under him, but adds to what is looking like a position of strength for the Tigers. Van Alexander looked good and Connell Davis looks the part after making the switch to LB from tailback. In time he could be very good. True freshman Luke Lambert looks like he will see the field sooner rather then later and made some plays. Michael Keck also made his debut.
Tigers safeties William Moore, Pig Brown, Garrett and Del Howard are playmakers. Garrett makes plays and puts the hurt on ball carriers and receivers, making an impressive stick on a Tiger receiver today. Del Howard also seemed to make a lot of plays on the day. Third string Safety Travis Cardoza made an interception of a Patton pass in the 3rd quarter.
The defensive line played hard and Tommy Chavis looks improved from last year. Stryker Sulak played well manning the other DE spot. Jaysen Corbett might be the answer at pass rush, but the Tigers clearly look as though they will miss Brian Smith at this time.
Again, with the Tiger offense seemingly clicking on all cylinders, it was tough to get a good idea just how good this defense will be based on today` s action. Still it was an entertaining look at the Tigers potential for 2007 and a great fix for football fans jonesing for a football fix in April.
Top Tiger target Baline Gabbert, considered by some to be the best QB prospect in the country, was in attendance along with over 100 other high school football players. Gabbert told me that he enjoyed the action and his trip to Columbia, but that he wasn`t ready to commit anywhere yet. "It` s all still equal to me right now. Four schools stand out to me, Missouri, Iowa, Alabama and Nebraska. I haven` t committed anywhere and won`t until I feel the time is right." said Gabbert. I also asked him to compare the Tigers spring game visit to Nebraska`s and he said they were equal. Gabbert may have a future as a diplomat.
Damien Nash` s mother and family were at the game and were honored on the field during an intermission.
Over 100 former Tigers players from different era`=s were also honored as they returned to the annual spring game.
Players winning most improved awards were:
Offensive Line- Dain Wise
Defensive Line- Tommy Chavis
Linebacker- Steve Redmond
Cornerback- Castine Bridges
Safety- Pig Brown
Offensive Back –Chase Patton
Wide receiver- Denario Alexander
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