Young offense has room to grow

The Tigers were thrown aside in the Big XII projections this off-season mainly because of their youth on both sides of the ball. This youth could cause growing pains this year, but Kyle looks at the good things that will come from all of these sophomores and freshman getting significant playing time.

No, the 2009 Mizzou offense is not near the top of the FBS leaderboard in terms of yards or points. Actually, the Tigers find themselves ranked in the mid 40s in both categories after two weeks of play. But looking beyond the numbers should give Tiger fans reason to believe that this offense should be back up to the production of the Chase Daniel-Jeremy Maclin days in no time.

First and most obviously, both the present and future of this offense will hinge on the development of Blaine Gabbert. Mizzou fans were treated to a flat out dominating performance in Week 1 by the sophomore quarterback, and although that didn't translate into great success in Week 2, it was a very promising sign to a fan base that had its doubts. If you remember, at the beginning of spring practice, people weren't even sure if Gabbert was the clear-cut favorite for the starting QB job.

Gabbert will learn the intricacies of playing QB from offensive coordinator and quarterback genius Dave Yost. But so far, it is evident that he has all the tools needed to bring this offense back to national prominence. Yes, his performance against Bowling Green was underwhelming, especially in the first half, but that has to be kept in perspective. This was Gabbert's second collegiate start, and his first one at home. There had to have been some butterflies fluttering around in his stomach. Furthermore, he actually had a great second half, showing nice touch on the deep ball on both of his touchdown throws.

The youth of this offense is both stunning and outstanding. Only three starters are seniors (RG Kurtis Gregory, WR Danario Alexander and WR Jared Perry), and only two are juniors (C Tim Barnes and RB Derrick Washington).

The core of this offense, barring any early entries into the NFL Draft, will be Tigers for the next three seasons. Gabbert, LT Elvis Fisher, RB Kendial Lawrence and TE Andrew Jones are both the present and future of Mizzou football.

I've already discussed Gabbert, so let's move to his most important teammate and bodyguard, Elvis Fisher. Fisher started as a red-shirt freshman at possibly the second most important spot on offense last year, and besides the Texas game, preformed like a seasoned veteran. He will only get better with time, and the only thing Tigers fans have to worry about with him is whether or not he will leave campus early for the NFL.

Jason already put up a great story on Lawrence, and he has already reached "savior" status to some Tiger fans (click to see the pic) His greatness was shown last week on the long touchdown run that was called back due to a holding call. Still, Lawrence will learn how to become a more polished runner inside the tackles from one of the best in Derrick Washington, and will be an electrifying player in the coming years.

Jones hasn't seen much action the first two weeks of 2009, but he filled in admirably for Chase Coffman over the last half of the 2008 season as a true freshman. As Gabbert continues to learn how to progress through his reads, he will find that the tight end is his best friend. All those scrambles that you saw last week against Bowling Green will turn into dump off passes to Jones, which will help him get more involved in the offense.

Mizzou fans have seen a couple glimpses of a great offense in the first two weeks of the season, and more of the same is coming right around the corner.


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