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April 16, 2010

Spring game: What to watch for

The Missouri Tigers have completed all but one of their spring practices. PowerMizzou.com has been the complete source for news all spring long and has been at every workout. Spring ball wraps up with the Black and Gold game tomorrow afternoon at 1:00. Here's what we'll be watching for in the final chance to see the team until fall camp opens in August:

Can Washington keep running?

Derrick Washington was the unquestioned star of the last scrimmage, scoring four touchdowns on just ten carries. He showed off renewed speed, but also that he has kept his power with two touchdown runs from inside the five. The Tiger running game hit a roadblock a season ago. If Mizzou has a ground attack to go with its usual high-flying passing game, the offense could get back to the level it showed from 2006-08.

Does the D have some teeth?

The defense won scrimmages prior to spring break, but the offense has had the upper hand since the team returned to practice. Although the scoring system generally makes it a little easier for the offense, the D did win last year's spring game. Can they do so again?

Up front on defense

Marcus Malbrough is likely to miss the spring game and Jacquies Smith may as well. How do Brad Madison and Michael Sam do in their absence? And is Aldon Smith going to continue to look as dominant as he has through the first 14 practices? Inside, it would be a good sign to see some disruptive play from Terrell Resonno and proof that the Tigers have some depth inside past Dominique Hamilton.

Will Gabbert cap strong spring?

Whispers around the program are that Blaine Gabbert is much better than he was even a few months ago. He is healthy and in good shape. This team needs to be Gabbert's. The talent is there and he put up strong numbers a season ago. The major question will be, has he taken complete leadership of the team and does he run the huddle? It's not a question that can be answered until the Tigers get into the teeth of their schedule, but it would be encouraging for fans to see the top quarterback put on a show with a relatively inexperienced receiving corps. Past years have shown the results of the spring game at quarterback rarely reflect what will happen in the regular season, but it's still nice for fans to feel good about the signal caller after the spring game.

Is James Franklin ready to play?

By all appearances, the true freshman (who should still be in high school) has done enough to be the Tigers' No. 2 quarterback, a spot he should hold down heading into fall camp. Saturday will mark fans' first look at Franklin and the media's first opportunity to talk to him (Gary Pinkel puts second-semester enrollees off limits to the media so they can get acclimated during spring ball). Each of the Tigers' last two heirs apparent at quarterback have gotten spot duty during their freshman seasons. Will Franklin get the same-particularly if there is a feeling Gabbert could enter next year's NFL Draft?

The spring game will start at 1 p.m. at Faurot Field and PowerMizzou.com will have complete coverage, including post-practice reaction, video highlights and a photo gallery of all the action.

Nobody covers the Tigers year-round like PowerMizzou.com. If you are not yet a member, just try out our free seven-day trial.


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