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Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Ten good minutes with Missouri's Dave Yost

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Missouri offensive coordinator David Yost is one of the busiest men in college football. And his work has only gotten more involved this spring.

 
  Paul Jasienski/Getty Images
  Replacing Chase Daniel will be important for Missouri.

Yost is Missouri's new offensive coordinator, along with serving as the team's recruiting coordinator and kicking coach. And he's working on a huge vacancy on the team as he tries to find a new starting quarterback to replace Chase Daniel.

During a recent interview, Yost discussed his new responsibilities, the challenge of replacing Daniel and whether he plans to shave his soul patch as he assumes his new job.

How have things changed for you this spring with the new job?

Dave Yost: Definitely, there are some things that are different for me. But it's easier because of how our offense has worked and how the staff has been together for so long. Four of us have been here for eight years and three of the other coaches have been together for 14 years. But it's the same ol' stuff that keeps going, because we have a way we do things and it's how we've done them.

But there are some little things I'm in charge of. Now I have to decide what time we are meeting as an offensive staff after the staff meeting. There are some others.

It's fun. I enjoy it. It's kind of what I've wanted to progress to in this business. Having that opportunity is great. I'm glad coach [Gary] Pinkel is giving me the opportunity to do it.

I'll probably get way too much credit when things are going good. But we have a lot of good people around me and some good players, too.

Do you think your new role will cause you to grow up a little bit? After all, you might be the only offensive coordinator -- at least in the Big 12 -- with a soul patch.

DY:
I've always been grown up, I just try not to get old [laughing]. But I haven't been told I have to change any of that stuff. I try to be myself as much as I can. I'm not going to try to be coach C (his predecessor, Dave Christensen) in that way. As long as coach Pinkel lets me continue to be the way I am, I will be.

The same fun-loving guy as before?

DY: Everybody thinks that.

Missouri obviously have a huge hole at quarterback after Chase Daniel has left the program. How competitive has it been among his potential replacements?

DY:
I think the competition has been very good. We have a good group of guys who are good to work with. Blaine Gabbert is running with the ones and is doing a good job. He's showing some signs of what a big-time quarterback looks like in all the things. He just needs to strive for more consistency.

We tried to plan for this ahead of time that the offense will progress like it always does. But when you also lose a starter like Chase who's a three-year starter and run as many snaps as he has and has done as much for our offense as he's done, things will change.

We're going to have to go back and take some of that stuff off of our quarterbacks because of the change. Now, we've got Blaine Gabbert, Blaine Dalton, Jimmy Costello and Ashton Glazer. You've got to protect those guys in the best way you can so they have the best chance to succeed and so they don't have to over think when they are out there. We want to make it as simple for them as possible. And that's what we're working on this spring.

But obviously, it's a huge hole. Chase Daniel is going to go down in history as one of the best players to ever play at Missouri. If not the best quarterback, one of the best because we've had some good ones here.

Blaine Gabbert just needs to go out there and be himself. He doesn't need to worry about being the next Chase Daniel. Just like Chase Daniel wasn't the next Brad Smith. He was the first Chase Daniel. We want Blaine to do the same thing.

How has Blaine Gabbert's work been so far?

DY: Really, for being so new in the offense, he came in and has done a good job. Chase did a great job of speeding up his maturation in the offense from last year. And Blaine has done a tremendous job of understanding defenses on the snap. That's a huge thing that I'm constantly working on. I see it now, mainly because Blaine had a chance to learn with Chase all summer.

Chase did that early in his career, but not as early as Blaine has. Chase knew the offense so well early [from running it in high school]. Gabbert has done a good job of understanding and attacking defenses and using the throws he has to do that. I just have to reel him in sometimes to let him know he doesn't have to make all the reads and throws that Chase Daniel did in his third year as our starting quarterback last season.

Blaine can progress to that point and doesn't have to be there right away. He wants to be a great player and is working hard to be that. He's got tremendous ability and shown all that we look for in the quarterback position. He's big and strong and has a good arm. But he's playing the position of quarterback and not just being a thrower.

Backup quarterback Jimmy Costello, a walk-on when he arrived, has been one of the most impressive players early in the spring. What has he shown you in his early work?

DY: Jimmy has done a fantastic job for us. He's a college-level quarterback. I tell him the whole time that he's really developed. When he first came here after walking on, I wasn't sure about that. But he's made himself into what he is today. From being one of the hardest working players we have, from studying video and running the offense and knowing himself and what we do.

He really does an excellent job running our offense. He can do that. We feel good about his progress. And it's a good competition with him and the guys. He's in the mix. It's not like Ashton and Dalton just came in here to compete with Gabbert. Jimmy is right there.

How have your receivers progressed this spring without guys like Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman in place?

DY: We've got a couple of guys out with injuries this spring in Jared Perry and Danario Alexander. Both of them have a tremendous amount of experience. Both have played a lot of football for us over the years. They are going to be key, key guys this fall. And the new guys from last year with Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson and guys at tight end like Andrew Jones and Michael Egnew. Now, Gahn McGaffie and Rolandis Woodland are in the mix and Brandon Gerau and Forrest Shock. This is a good situation for the young guys because we know what we have in Perry and Alexander.

All of those players gives us a chance to put a lot of positive pressure on other guys to step up. We need more than three receivers and you can wear guys out really fast. So, being able to get as many guys ready as possible gives us a chance to do that.

Anytime you lose guys like Maclin and Coffman or Tommy Saunders, or like the year before when we lost [All-America tight end Martin] Rucker, you've lost some great players. But I think we'll be OK. It's just that new guys will be in position to do it and we'll be counting on them.

Does the loss of Daniel and those receivers mean that you might lean on tailback Derrick Washington a little more during the season?

DY: We can use him more than we did last year and we will. We probably underutilized him because we had guys like Maclin and Coffman playing. We had all those guys but only one football out there and we wanted to distribute the ball as much as we could.

But now you look at the guy who people playing against us will have to think about and consider. It's Washington. He has to become such a dominant player for us that people are scared of him.

He's been hurt early in practice, but I think we made progress when he was out. Earlier this spring when he was out, we showed that we'll have a good one-two punch in the backfield with some of the others. And we need to continue to progress from that.