March 9, 2009

Spring Preview: Five questions to answer

The focus in spring football is almost always on the unknowns. There are a few places Missouri is set. Sean Weatherspoon may be the top returning linebacker in America. Derrick Washington is one of the best tailbacks in the Big 12. But where do the Tigers have some questions to face? That's the focus of our final spring preview on the eve of Missouri's first practice.

How does the quarterback race shake out?

Bar none, the biggest question of spring ball. And it might not have an answer by the Black and Gold game. We are already on record as saying we expect Blaine Gabbert to emerge as the starter. But that's not the only question here. Does Gabbert take every meaningful snap? If he doesn't, is Jimmy Costello good enough to be the backup while preserving redshirts for Blaine Dalton and Ashton Glaser? But here is the most interesting aspect: If one of the freshmen is the No. 2 quarterback, do you play that freshman? Or do you in fact make him No. 3 while playing either Costello or the second freshman so that you maintain a possible second or third year as a starter for the best freshman? This is about six questions wrapped into one, and that's the reason the quarterback position will be the most closely followed in spring football.

Who replaces Jeff Wolfert?

Everyone knows there are voids left by guys like Ziggy Hood, Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman and Jeremy Maclin. But replacing the kicker will get far less pub. We said during camp last year if Wolfert got hurt, it didn't look like the Tigers had a replacement that was anywhere close to ready. Has that changed in the past six months? It's possible, but we don't know the answer right now.

How good a tailback is Gilbert Moye?

We told you a month ago Moye was moving to tailback and confirmed it with Gilbert himself last week. Moye has very good athleticism and put together a heck of a high school highlight reel as a quarterback. But the move to safety just didn't take in his first two years on campus. That, combined with the fact that the Tigers have only two other scholarship tailbacks for spring ball, led the coaches to suggest the move back to offense. Is it a move made purely to have another body on hand or is Moye good enough to challenge for playing time? We should get the answer in the next few weeks.

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