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August 3, 2009

Like Father, Unlike Son: Camp Preview

Nobody will cover fall camp like PowerMizzou.com. We will have analysis, reaction, photos and video from every single practice leading up to the season opener. To get your free trial membership going today, just click right here.

The first practice for the 2009 Tigers is just three days away. With the return of fall camp, PowerMizzou.com brings back one of our most popular features. Site publisher Gabe DeArmond is entering his sixth season of covering the Tigers full-time for PowerMizzou.com. Mike DeArmond is entering his, well, more than sixth season, as the Tiger beat writer for the Kansas City Star. Each Monday, throughout the season, Gabe and Mike will debate some of the biggest issues facing the Tigers in Like Father, Unlike Son.

Fall camp starts Thursday. We know everyone will be watching Blaine Gabbert. I'm as interested in the guys behind him. Based on what you saw in the spring and what you have heard since, does this team have a capable quarterback behind him?

Gabbert has to get the job done. The other kids did not look close to being ready in the spring. And that is why I think you'll see more quarterbacks taken for the next class. You don't have anything close to the Chase Daniel-Chase Patton situation of the last few years.




Considering Dalton and Glaser should have graduated high school about two months ago, right now, I have to say I don't think so. I have even gone so far as to say that an injury to Gabbert would be the most devastating injury Missouri could suffer. If you're looking at a team that can win seven or eight games without him, I don't think it's insane to suggest if he went down in fall camp you'd adjust those expectations to no more than four or five wins.

Given that the quarterback play is probably the biggest focal point, give me one storyline on each side of the ball you're wanting to watch closely in camp.

On offense, I want to know how different the offensive scheme and play calling are going to be. There ARE going to be differences. I think we'll see more running, a few different formations and a changeup in the type and number of passes. But I want to see just HOW different it is. On defense, plain and simple, I want to see if the Tigers can cover anybody. If Jimmy Costello, Wes Kemp and the second team offense are shredding the number one pass defense in scrimmages, well, let's not go there just yet.

Coach Pinkel has already said the offense will be designed more like Chase Daniel's sophomore season than thereafter. So yes, we'll see some culling back. Key will be Derrick Washington and De'Vion Moore at running back and Jared Perry and Danario Alexander at WR. Enough running to pass and enough passing to run. As for the defense, I want to see the Smiths not only rushing the quarterback but to get there. Do that and Sean Weatherspoon and the linebackers can take care of the run.

Finish this sentence: The major reason Missouri could prove all the experts wrong this season is....

Opponents will be ready for the all-out spread and not ready for a really balanced offense. Quick passes and quick dives with a north-south running game.





They have a true difference maker on each side of the ball. I think Derrick Washington is capable of an all-Big 12 season (and I like his backup a lot too). On defense, they might have the best player in America in Sean Weatherspoon (yeah, I said it). Superstars help hide some blemishes. Missouri has a couple. And if Danario Alexander is really looking as good as everyone says, they've got one more.

Now finish this one: The major reason the experts might be right is...

Because even a blind man finds a coin in the gutter if he keeps feeling around enough. In short, I think the people expecting a return to mediocre football are wrong as wrong can be.





Very, very few players have proven themselves on Saturdays. Those of us who saw spring football think defensive end might be the Tigers' best position. But Jacquies Smith, Brian Coulter and Aldon Smith haven't combined to do half of what Stryker Sulak alone did. I think they can, but until they do it, we just don't know. Offensively, we think Alexander and Andrew Jones and Dan Hoch are all very capable replacements. But it's really (outside of Danario) not based on anything they've done in a game. The fact is, it's different when the lights go on. We'll have some answers when camp is over, but as much as fans won't want to hear me say it, the most important questions can't be answered until the first Saturday in September in St. Louis.

I won't ask you to PREDICT a record. Instead, what is your measurement of success for this team? What constitutes "a good year"?

I'd say seven wins is what you go in "expecting." There are a couple automatic losses and I'd say three automatic wins. The other seven could go either way. So, if you go 4-3 in those seven, you get to 7-5 and I'd say that's a reasonable expectation with so much youth. Anything over seven to me is a very, very successful season. Anything below that is at least a small disappointment.

I measure 8-4 as a good year. Sorry, 7-5 just isn't good enough to keep the recruiting going. Anything beyond eight victories would be a great year with a transition team.





Nobody will cover fall camp like PowerMizzou.com. We will have analysis, reaction, photos and video from every single practice leading up to the season opener. To get your free trial membership going today, just click right here.


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