Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Amidst Distractions, Mizzou's Gabbert Primed For Big Year

After a tumultuous offseason, quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Missouri Tigers will try to rise above the distractions in their season opener this Saturday against the Illinois Fighting Illini.

First, though, the negative.

The off-the-field issues have been hard to avoid. It started at the beginning of August, when offensive line coach Bruce Walker was arrested for driving while intoxicated. A few weeks later, stud linebacker Will Ebner was arrested for the same infraction.

Thursday, Head Coach Gary Pinkel suspended senior co-captain and star running back Derrick Washington indefinitely because of sexual assualt charges brought forth stemming from an incident earlier in the summer.

Then Sunday, the news came of starting deep snapper Beau Brinkley being the latest DWI offender.

It's a lot to absorb in just a month, especially considering the high hopes Tiger fans had for this season. The Washington story is easily the most compelling. While the other matters should have quick resolutions - Ebner and Brinkley will likely miss the Illinois game - the situation with Washington could linger all season as more information continues to surface.

As would be expected, Pinkel was not pleased by the recent events as he spoke during the Big 12 media teleconference Monday.

"We worked real hard to develop and build a program that I think has a very good reputation for being first class and disciplined and we've taken a few hits," he said. "First of all, I'm kind of embarrassed."

Pinkel stressed that the team is determined to keep their heads up.

"The only way to get that back is to earn it back. That's what we intent to do."

The rest of the team would be best served to learn from their teammates' and coach's mistakes and move on. With the season set to begin in three days, there isn't much time to sulk.

The movement must start with Gabbert. The junior signal-caller is primed to have a big year. Some had high expectations after Gabbert began last season with a stellar performance in a 37-9 blowout against the Fighting Illini in the season opener.

Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
A mid-season ankle injury hampered Gabbert the rest of the way, though. It also drastically hurt the Tiger offense as a whole, and the team finished a somewhat disappointing 8-5 overall, including just 4-4 in Big 12 play.

2010 is sure to yield better results for Gabbert and Mizzou. The ankle injury is gone. The conference seems to be weaker as a whole. And let's not downplay Gabbert's predecessor, Chase Daniel's drastic improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons, and the team's leap forward coinciding with it.

Saturday could be the start of a serious Heisman campaign. It could also be a continuation of what has already been a very stressful year for Mizzou and its fans. Gabbert, as much as anyone, will certainly have his say in which way they're headed.

"Everybody in college football has setbacks during two-a-days," he said. "Things are going to happen to this team, but we're going to fight forward."


  1. Very intuitive and well written, keep up the good work.

  2. Good article, as usual.

    That Neb vs. Mizzou game will decide the conference. I am assuming that Missouri will not implode against a lesser opponent; They had best apply the blinders and get results. Beating Illinois (always a good game!) will be a big step towards gaining some confidence, seeing the team play together.

  3. Good article. I fully expect Gabbert to emerge as one of the better quarterbacks in the country this year. Although I think Mizzou will have no problems with the early part of their schedule (despite the injuries), Nebraska is still the team to beat in the North. Not saying Mizzou can't do it, but they're gonna need to bring their A-game. I like the makeup and veteran leadership of this team though, even after the departure of D-Wash.

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