With spring practice beginning today for the Mizzou football team, one subject that has been on everybody's mind is what will happen now that Chase Daniel is gone.
Head coach Gary Pinkel has said that the quarterback position is up for grabs and they will have an open competition, but most will argue that Blaine Gabbert is the leading candidate.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore from Parkway West High School in Ballwin, Missouri completed 5 passes in 13 attempts last season as the third stringer, but now with both Daniel and Patton moving on, this competition looks like it could be his for the taking.
Last seasons experience certainly has not hurt his cause. "It helps that I've had the repetitions in the practices and in the games that the other quarterback haven't had yet."
The fact that Pinkel is leaving things open does not seem to bother this young man either. "I love competition," Gabbert remarked. "It brings the best out of every quarterback."
Gabbert sure did step up to the competition today, completing just about every pass that he threw with a sharp, crisp spiral, including a ball that traveled nearly 40 yards in the air and striking WR Wes Kemp perfectly in stride. He threw well to all sides of the field with only a few overthrows mixed in on some of the deeper patterns.
Confidence is not an issue for the young quarterback either, and he feels like this is his team. "Being behind Chase last year, he was the leader of the offense," he began. "But being a quarterback I think you have to step into that position pretty quickly and I think I have."
Last season Gabbert worked with offensive coordinator David Yost extensively, while he was still the quarterback coach.
Both agree that having this experience will help with the transition that this offense will go through this spring. "Coach Yost is a great coach," Blaine said. "We are going to do great things with the offense that it is going to become."
Yost had only pleasing things to say about Gabbert as well. "He is taking this forward as more than just a quarterback, but also as a leader this season," he commented."It also helps having a Heisman Trophy candidate show him the ropes in his rookie season.
"He taught me things like being a vocal leader and telling guys the right things to do on the field as well," Gabbert said of Daniel. Chase's leadership and competitiveness were certainly evident in Blaine during today's practice.
So how did Blaine enjoy taking all of his reps with the first team today? "Its just fun. We're young of course but it's really laid back and were having a good time."
With many of the sports media calling this a rebuilding year for Mizzou, Gabbert thinks differently. "I completely disagree," he rebutted. "Our recieving corp will be just as good as last year if not better, our offensive line will preform the exact same way and even our defense will. I do not think that this will be a rebuilding year."
The way that the young quarterback handled himself both on the field and off of it seems to prove that he is ready to move into the spotlight. With next season looming, Blaine has one thing in mind. "Guys have their trust in me and I'm going to go out there and put the ball where they need it." Well said.