A new era in Missouri football began as the 2009 Tigers took the field for the first time.
The team will have plenty questions to answer in the upcoming months because of the talent they have to replace; especially on the offensive side of the ball.
The quarterback position is up for grabs, a playmaker needs to emerge at wide receiver, a Mackey Award winner needs to be replaced at TE and two starters from the offensive line are gone. And, coaching up all the young players is new offensive coordinator Dave Yost.
Following Tuesday's practice insidemizzou caught up with Coach Yost.
Mizzou seemed to be enthusiastic throughout the practice.
"We were enthusiastic," Yost said. "Guys were running around and playing fast. I think it was a good first day. It was fun to be out here, especially with the young quarterbacks."
Who ends up winning the starting job at the QB position will be a major theme of this year's spring practice. Among the candidates to fill the shoes of Chase Daniel are freshman quarterbacks Blaine Dalton and Ashton Glaser. Coach Yost gave an honest evaluation of these two quarterbacks in day one of spring practice.
"They looked like seniors in high school in their first day of practice in college football. But they're doing really well. The best way to pick up our stuff is to put them in 7 on 7 drills and especially 11 on 11 scrimmages. I'm excited to see how they do Thrursday."
Coach Yost was quick to point out the youth he has inherited at QB.
"I like to joke, I have Gabbert, a sophomore, and then I'm sitting here with a redshirt freshman, a freshman and two seniors in high school."
Just as his young quarterbacks will be learning on the job, Coach Yost will be making the leap to offensive coordinator. According to Yost and Pinkel, not much will change though.
"Coach Pinkel is very involved with the offense. I think it will be a very smooth transition. The biggest difference right now is that I have to draw up a few more scripts for practice."
With the inexperience at QB, the Tigers will try to establish the running game more this year. At times last year, with all the talent at QB and the skill positions, Missouri seemed to get away from running the ball. But the Tigers will look to have a new dedication to the run in 2009.
"We always want to try to do that. It takes the pressure off the quarterback. What we evolved into with the offense and with Chase Daniel was that we tried to get the ball to Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman and Tommy Saunders. It puts a lot of pressure on the QB and we don't want to do that with Gabbert," Yost said.
The Missouri offense, with a new coordinator and a new QB, will look to continue the success of past seasons in 2009.
Offensive Notes From Practice
-What stuck out to me was Blaine Gabbert's maturity. He seemed to take it upon himself to be the leader. While he wasn't taking reps he was talking up the young guys and trying to make their transition to the college game easier.
In team drills he was the one calling huddles. Gabbert certainly looked like a starting quarterback today. And on a side note, I can see what made scouts drool over him in high school. I found myself having to wipe my mouth a few times when I watched him throw. He has a canon and throws a perfect spiral every time with accuracy.
-Blaine Dalton and Ashton Glaser both looked like freshman. They showed flashes of their ability but it's obvious they both need to get some experience under their belts. Coming in early should help them both.
-Freshman walk on QB Owen Lenander didn't look bad. He actually has nice touch on deep throws and decent accuracy.
-Derrick Washington did not participate in practice today but Coach Pinkel said he is ok and is day to day. Washington's backup, De'Vion Moore, looked good in practice. He has a great burst and soft hands coming out of the backfield. With depth being a concern at RB, Moore could be a huge factor this season.
-Danario Alexander and Jared Perry will not be participating in spring practice due to injury. This should give us a chance to look at some younger receivers who could emerge as playmakers. On that note, Wes Kemp put in a solid day. He burned Carl Gettis a couple times in one on one drills.
-Redshirt freshman Rolandis Woodland looked like he might be able to step it up for the Tigers this year. He has good speed but he needs to fill out his frame a bit. Still, he may be a player to watch during spring ball.
-the OL was pretty physical today and played with a lot of energy. The defensive lineman had a hard time getting by Kurtis Gregory.