Position Preview: Quarterback

Continuing in our preseason coverage of the 2009 Missouri Tigers football season, InsideMizzou.com will break down the Tiger team by position. Today, we go inside the huddle, and look at the 2009 Misouri quarterbacks.

If you live in Missouri, there is a good chance that you know who Chase Daniel is. Over the past two seasons, he became a household name throughout the state, and even the nation. Chase altered the Missouri record books for countless passing records, including passing yards, passing efficiency, passing touchdowns, and many, many more. Number ten will always be a player who is talked about when Missouri football is the conversation. While he came short of Mizzou's true goal of a BCS national championship, Daniel will never be forgotten by any Tiger fan who witnessed his legend over the past two seasons.

As Chase moves on, so do the Tigers. Daniel was an un-drafted free agent in April, and is now part of the Washington Redskins roster. While Gary Pinkel and the entire Missouri coaching staff certainly wish Chase the best of luck in his future endeavors, they are now left with the troubling task of replacing the greatest quarterback in Tiger history.

On the Missouri depth chart, there are six quarterbacks listed. In order, as of the spring roster, they are Blaine Gabbert, Jimmy Costello, Luther Roweton, Blaine Dalton, Ashton Glaser, and Owen Lenander. Immediately, I am going to eliminate two of these players from contention for playing time this fall: Luther Roweton and Owen Lenander.

That is not to say that either of these two men are not good football players. If fact, they are both very good quarterbacks. If I, or the majority of you reading this article, were to step onto a football field and throw the ball as far as we could, there is no doubt that either of these two players could hit a target at the same distance. Both are quarterbacks from a Division I football team, which has great offensive and quarterback coaches. I do not mean to take anything away from these men, but while their level is a giant leap above the average athlete, they are still one large step behind the others.

So after eliminating Roweton and Lenander, we are left with Gabbert, Costello, Dalton, and Glaser. Lets first take a look at the two "rookies."

While only Gabbert has seen any playing time in his career, I call Glaser and Dalton rookies because this time last year they were probably sitting on a beach thinking about how hard their high school two-a-days were going to be once August came. Glaser was the starting quarterback for Springdale High School in Springdale, Arkansas. He was a Scout two-star recruit, and declared for Missouri last summer. Dalton was a four-star quarterback out of Blue Springs South High School, in Blue Springs, Missouri. Both quarterbacks enrolled into the Missouri system a semester early.

Through out the spring, Glaser looked like a high school quarterback practicing with college players. Maybe it was the fact that he should have been preparing for prom or graduation rather than the MU practice defenses, of reading Shakespeare instead of reading blitz packages. If that is the case, then it is good that he did declare early. Hopefully he got the early jitters out and can now make a strong case for likely the third spot on the depth chart.

The player who Glaser will most likely be directly competing with, and will certainly forever be compared to, is Blaine Dalton. Dalton, too, looked out of sorts a bit during his spring practices. However, from time to time, Blaine did show a few fits of brilliance in a deep pass here and a scramble there. Dalton's high school career is also a bit more distinguished than Glaser's, having taken his team to a state title during his sophomore year. During his senior year, he returned to the title game, but lost.

Dalton seems like he should be the player to fill the third spot on the depth chart behind Gabbert and Costello (possibly even the second), forcing Glaser to likely become redshirted, but his skill does not come without off-field issues. In late April, Dalton was pulled over and arrested on suspicion of being in possession of a controlled substance, minor in possession of alcohol, possession of false identification and three traffic charges. The charges were later cleared up, with the prescription belonging to his friend, but this is still worrisome to me. America does pride herself on its innocent until proven guilty motto, however I cannot help but ask what and 18 year old is doing with a fake ID, and alcohol in his car. Not to mention that the officer searched his car after smelling marijuana inside his car. He may not be brought up on charges, but Dalton is a quarterback at a Division I school, and should not find himself in such a tight position.

The next quarterback on the list is Jimmy Costello. In 2007, Jimmy walked on to the Tigers team, serving the main purpose of being the scout quarterback to prepare the defense during practice. Last year, during his redshirt freshman season, this was also his primary role, where coaches were consistently impressed with his efforts. Now, with Daniel and Chase Patton both gone, Costello has the longest tenure of all of the quarterbacks. His athletic ability and great arm strength are both big reasons that he was number two on the depth chart this spring.

During those spring practices, Jimmy did not preform too much better than either of the "rookies." He was able to demonstrate great arm strength, however his accuracy was shaky, and he did not always make the right decision during games. During the Spring game, Costello went three and out on all but one possession. It is very likely that Costello will be one of the top three this season, mainly because unlike Dalton and Glaser, he cannot be redshirted.

And that brings us to Blaine Gabbert. It is rare that a player can draw so much hype with such little to actually show for it. Gabbert is the only player on the Missouri roster to throw a pass. He went 5-of-13, throwing for 43 yards in 2008, his true freshman season.

Out of high school, Gabbert was a five-star All-American, who was considered one of the nations top quarterback recruits. He attended Parkway West High School, in Ballwin, Missouri, and will be the Tigers starter in 2009. Coach Pinkel continually says that every position is open for competition, but this is as sure of a thing as any. Earlier in this article, I talked about how Luther Roweton and Owen Lenander were far superior to any other athlete who probably considers themselves good football players. Well, The same way that Roweton and Lenander are on a completely different level from good athletes, Gabbert is on a completely different level from the rest of the MU signal callers. Roweton and Lenander could probably hit a target at the same distance that I could put a ball, but Gabbert could hit Jared Perry in the numbers as he tries to break away from two Longhorn defenders, at the same distance.

During spring ball, Gabbert showed the comfort of a returning starter. His balls were crisply thrown, and almost always right on target. While he had made a bad decision every now and then, he almost always threw it in the right direction. He has an uncanny ability to scramble and turn nothing into big plays with 4.51 speed, as Wes Kemp said earlier this year with a sense of awe, "and that's an electronic time, too."

He not only leads the team on the field, but Blaine has taken on the role of ambassador, often addressing the media and talking to new recruits. Just this week, Xavier Smith said that big part of the reason that he decided to commit was spending time with Sean Weatherspoon and Blaine Gabbert. Blaine helped set his mind at ease.

The 6-5, 235 lb. sophomore is smart, skilled and fits the mold of a "pro-style QB." Unlike short and pudgy Daniel, Gabbert is lean and tall, which makes him a good candidate for the NFL. When he takes the field on September 5th against the Illini, Gabbert will be making his first career start. Tiger fans will be holding their collective breath, hoping that like after Brad Smith, there is no drop off after Chase Daniel.

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