Spring Position Review: Quarterback

The Tigers seem to have improved their overall depth at QB this spring

The Missouri Tigers entered spring practice at the Quarterback position with the main goal being able to find a solid number two back-up behind returning starter Blaine Gabbert.

Gabbert is poised to be not only one of the the top returning quarterbacks in college football for 2010, but also make himself a high level draft pick for the NFL in the not too distant future. Possibly as soon as the 2011 draft with a strong enough junior year.

While Gabbert started a little slow at the beginning  of practice, he quickly seemed to find his rhythm and looked sharper as spring ball went on. He seemed focused and determined to improve on each pass and each play, and each practice.

As Coach Pinkel put it, the great ones always feel as though they haven't played their best game or had their best practice. They always push themselves to do one better then their very best. That is what they want from Blaine and he was showing signs of it during spring ball.

A few things that stood out to me were how he went full out all the time and everything he did was done with a purpose. There was no taking snaps off. No lazy throws. Everything he did was done at full speed and with meaning. He seemed very comfortable. There are no dancing feet. Progressions are being gone through, and he seems to be seeing the field better and making use of the multiple receivers he has. The big arm is still there and the accuracy continues to improve. He practiced at game speed.

I fully expect Blaine Gabbert to have a banner year and elevate his game to another level.

Having a solid back-up that you feel can move the ball and score on opponents is a must. As we saw last year you cannot expect to win with an injured QB and no capable back-up. It appears as though the goal was accomplished with a couple of players  possibly being the number two guy when fall practice arrives.

Based on what I witnessed this spring the two players who seem as though they can fill that role are red-shirt freshman Ashton Glaser and true freshman James Franklin who transferred in back in January.

My thoughts on Franklin before he arrived were that aside from Gabbert, he was probably the most physically gifted of the Quarterbacks, and stood a pretty good chance of competing for the number two spot.

Little did I know just how talented the Texas gunslinger would be.

I had no idea that he would be able to learn the offense, perform as well as he did and take the number two spot on the depth chart by the end of spring.

As Coach Pinkel said when asked if he thought Franklin was doing well in his transition from high school to college," that's an understatement."

James Franklin not only has the makings of a strong number two quarterback, but he has the makings of a future star in the Big 12.

While he still has a lot to learn and at times looked exactly like the true freshman that he is, you also could not help but notice the flashes of natural big play ability he possesses both with his arm and his feet. He is a natural with the ball in his hands. He doesn't look to run first, but instead senses pressure and takes advantage of the opportunity to run when it is available to him. When he does run he becomes a 220lbs running back showing natural running skills and a physicality that makes him hard to tackle but that he may want to tone down in the future to avoid injury.

In the passing game he shows a good deal of poise early and a strong and accurate arm to deliver the ball with. Again, sometimes it appeared that he made some of the typical freshman mistakes or tried to force a play that he probably could have made against high school competition. However, overall, it looks as if the Tigers have not only found their back-up for 2010, but possibly the heir apparent after Gabbert.

The big question come the fall will be whether or not to play him in situations to prepare him for the future the way both Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert were or to save him for the year with a red-shirt.

Ashton Glaser answered a lot of questions I had about him this spring. He was the mid-year freshman transfer last spring along with former Tiger Blaine Dalton.

The year spent in the program really showed with Glaser. He looked confident and in control from the start of practice. He showed good accuracy on his throws and seemed to have really learned the offense in his time here. He did seem to hit a bump midway through spring practice and it affected his play. Not sure if it was an off the field situation or not, but it seemed to prevent him from climbing the depth chart.

Ashton seemed to right himself and closed strong with a solid performance in the Black and Gold game. In my opinion he would be able to run the Tiger offense if needed and could produce. He showed had the ability to move the ball when he was in there against whatever defense he played against.

I expect him to continue to improve and come in ready to compete again for the number two spot this August.

Former walk-on Jimmy Costello quietly had a good spring and had some impressive moments throwing the ball. He works hard and does what is needed and asked of him. He is steady and has done an admirable job since joining the Tigers. However, the young talent the Tigers have brought in will make it tough for him to regain his second string position from last year. Still, he is am important part of the team and serves a valuable role.

Tyler Gabbert was in the unenviable position of having to try and operate the offense behind the fourth string offensive line. The Tiger depth along the O-line does not run that deep and Tyler spent a great deal of time running for his life or getting to know Brayden Burnett and Michael Sam all too well.

When Tyler was afforded the time to run the offense and throw the ball, he showed the strong arm, quick release and accuracy that made him a highly sought after recruit.

One of the things that came from being under pressure so much was that Tyler was able to show his better then average wheels and scrambling ability. He gives the Tigers another mobile quarterback.

When given the opportunity to run the offense with ones or twos he was able to showcase his ability a lot more.

While he will no doubt come in ready to compete for the quarterback spot and the chance to climb the depth chart, he will probably do well to enjoy a red-shirt year and continue to develop physically while his older brother runs the show this year.

Missouri is gaining a great reputation for developing quarterbacks. Coach Pinkel has been known for this for years going back to his days at Washington. It looks like it will continue with the players returning this fall and even into the future with highly regarded 2011 QB prospect Corbin Berkstresser 6'4"220 already committed.

Missouri Tiger Quarterbacks-Final Spring Depth Chart
Blaine Gabbert 6'5" 240
James Franklin 6'2"220
Jimmy Costello 6'3" 225
Ashton Glaser 6'0" 220
Tyler Gabbert 6'0" 190

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