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Friday, July 23, 2010
Mailbag: Missouri edition

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Miss your team's mailbag? Here's who we've covered so far:

Jeremy in Fort Smith, Ark., asks: Could Blaine Gabbert end up being a better QB in Mizzou history than Chase Daniel? I don't even think Chase Daniel was that great. Gabbert seems like he could be a good one

David Ubben: Well, Chase Daniel was pretty good, first of all. You can’t short the guy who led Missouri to one of the best seasons in school history in 2007. But it’s hard to make a direct comparison between Gabbert and Daniel. Gabbert is obviously the better pro prospect and clearly built to play the position at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. The biggest difference between the two is that while Gabbert has much better arm strength, he lacks not only Daniel's absurd accuracy, but also Daniel’s deep knowledge of the system. Daniel ran the system during his entire football career from high school through his time at Missouri.

But they were in different situations. In Daniel’s junior year, he had three future NFL draft picks to throw to, along with a couple of other good ones behind them. Gabbert has some talented guys on his team, but he doesn’t have anyone even close to the level of Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman or Martin Rucker. Danario Alexander, who always had the tools to be a good receiver, surprised everyone with just how much he could produce last season. But if Maclin, Coffman or Rucker had been depended upon as heavily as Alexander, they might have produced plenty more than they already did.

Circling back to your main point, it depends on how you want to measure them. If Gabbert had the same skill players around him that Daniel had, he might be able to do what Daniel did as a junior. But Gabbert will be playing against better defenses and against a much tougher Northern division -- specifically Nebraska -- than any Daniel played against. So total wins might not even be a fair comparison.

Generally, I think Gabbert is a better “quarterback” than Daniel. But for the system and what Missouri needed -- someone who was accurate and could make plays -- Daniel might have been better. But like I said earlier, because of all the variables -- better defenses, more talent around Daniel -- it’s tough to make a definite comparison.


Mike in southern Illinois writes: If Aldon Smith has a great season, what are your feelings on him leaving Missouri for the NFL after this season and by-passing his final two years?

DU: It’s possible, but we’ll see how he does this year. He probably needs to add some weight on his lanky frame to be a force in the NFL, and he needs to become a more well-rounded defensive end to help his stock. The coaches may not want him to put on much weight and have it slow him down because he had so much success with his current size, but I have trouble thinking he’d be as successful against NFL offensive lines at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds. He’s got plenty more potential to live up to, and we’ll get to see him do it this season.


Steve in Kansas City, Mo. writes: David, Missouri has been waiting for College Gameday to come to Columbia for some time now. What are the chances of the show broadcasting the homecoming game against Oklahoma on 10/23/2010?

DU: I touched on this earlier this month, but it’s looking like a possibility. It is easily the best game in the Big 12 that week, but other national matchups include LSU at Auburn, Washington at Arizona and North Carolina at Miami. If both those ACC teams live up to the hype, that's going to be a fantastic game. But of course, there's a lot of football to be played between now and then.


Ty in CoMo writes: Why is there no pre hesiman hype for Gabbert??? the dude only put 3,400 yards and 24tds and won 8 games... I get tired of hearing about the Lucks, Locker, Mallets. Gabberts is every bit the NFL prototype any of those are. I am willing to bet mizzou has a better year than all those teams and we will hear whispers of a top 5 pick coming out CoMo! MIZ-

DU: I assume the intent of your second sentence is sarcasm, but you’ve inadvertently hit on the biggest reason why: The dude only won eight games. I’d probably agree that Missouri will win more games than Stanford, Arkansas and Washington, but let’s separate NFL draft status from Heisman hype.

I look at Missouri’s schedule and I see nine or 10 wins. They’ll probably win one or two games out of Oklahoma, at Texas A&M, at Nebraska and at Texas Tech. They should be clearly favored in the rest. Then you add a bowl game, which is probably a toss-up by nature. That’s not going to be enough for him to win the Heisman. If Missouri strings together three wins from that group of games and has 11 wins after the Big 12 Championship week -- North title or otherwise -- then he might push himself into the conversation.

As for the NFL, Gabbert’s probably a toss-up to leave after this season. His performance over the next six months will obviously have a lot of influence over that. I don’t pretend to be an NFL scout, but I know he has the size, arm strength, brain and pedigree to be a top-tier NFL pick. He’s not a first-rounder right now in what looks like a pretty deep 2011 class, but if he has a year with the numbers and wins like Chase Daniel had in his junior year, that might change.


Mark J in Jefferson City, Mo., writes: Which newcomer (be it first time starter or incoming frosh) do you think will have the biggest impact on the field this year?

DU: After his performance over all of spring practice, it’s tough to think you’ll hear any newcomer’s name more than sophomore T.J. Moe at receiver. He was catching everything this spring, and Gary Pinkel kept bringing his name up during my visit to Columbia this spring. But here’s a few other guys to look out for.