Daniel, Tigers Hit Camp Running
Bouncy and chatty, Daniel took his turn in a passing drill before giving way to freshman walk-on Jimmy Costello. After Costello hit his receiver in stride, Daniel smacked him on the helmet and congratulated him for a good five seconds. His chatter, which he doled liberally to all of the quarterbacks and wide receivers, continued for several minutes until the horn sounded signaling time to move on to the next drill. While everyone else hustled off, though, Daniel had to sneak in one last throw, which hit junior wideout Adam Casey in stride.
Mizzou's star quarterback then waited for the lineman to come jogging toward him. He stood in between the two single-file lines of lumbering behemoths and held a hand out on each side, exchanging low fives with each who passed.
"The first [practice] is always special … I just try to make my teammates better," a relaxed Daniel said afterward. "If I'm loose, people see me being loose and we'll all be loose."
"That's always been Chase. He came out that way. He came out of the package that way," head coach Gary Pinkel said. "Not many kids are like that. He's a very special guy."
The players and Pinkel were asked repeatedly about expectations for this year. The team has a new motto – ‘Win Today.'
"That says it all," Pinkel said.
The motto is a product of past disappointments and current expectations. Everyone on the team, picked to win the Big 12 North, is mindful of last year's semi-collapse after a 6-0 start and assorted other previous letdowns, and everyone knows it's time to put it all together for entire season.
The goal "is ultimately go get to the Big 12 championship," Daniel said.
Added running back Tony Temple, "That's always been Chase. He's been that way since he got here. He comes in and makes sure everybody's on their Ps and Qs."
Another theme that Pinkel is going out of his way to stress is the need for the defense to create more turnovers, and the team has coined a catch phrase for that as well: ‘It's all about the Ball.'
Mizzou was in the middle of the Big 12 pack last year in takeaways, and the need for more big plays by the defense appears likely to be a constant theme at camp.
After junior safety Kevin Duncan intercepted a J.P. Tillman pass, the entire defense raced back to Duncan, crowded around him and reached up to touch the ball.
"We have to play on a higher level on a consistent basis this year. We have to go out and get turnovers. I'm responsible for getting that done," Pinkel said. "Obviously what I was doing before wasn't working … In the game of football, there's not one statistic that [decides] wins and losses more than turnover margin."
Stay tuned for more practice notes this weekend and throughout camp …
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