01 June 2010
There is no doubt that this is Blaine Gabbert's team in 2010 (photo by Parker Eshelman, Columbia Tribune).
Part 1. Just how good was Gabbert last year?
Part 2. How does Gabbert compare to Chase Daniel?
Part 3. What can we expect from Gabbert this year?
On September 4, 2009 no one knew exactly what type of player Blaine Gabbert would be. Maybe he’d be the best Mizzou quarterback of all time. Maybe he would be a complete bust.
One day later, Gabbert threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns while completing 76 percent of his passes against the lifeless Zooksters. Mizzou Nation erupted. Jason Whitlock and just about everybody else jumped on the bandwagon. Heisman talk began. It appeared Missouri had been blessed with a QB that would make Chase Daniel look more like Kirk Farmer than a Heisman Candidate. (Speaking of Chase look-a-likes, this guy anyone)?
But mixed in with the ridiculous displays of realized potential were some growing pains. Mizzou’s Texas Bowl debacle where Gabbert completed 15 of 31 passes for 291 yards and two interceptions still lingers in some critic’s minds.
The Texas Bowl was not Gabbert's best game (photo by Chris Dunn of Words and Light Blog).
Between the blowout of Illinois and the butt kicking at the hands of Navy, we learned a few things about the type of player Blaine Gabbert is. We know he is certainly not a bust. Whether he becomes the best quarterback in Missouri history, well, that is yet to be determined. However, what is already determined is that Gabbert was one of the better quarterbacks in the nation in 2009.
He threw for 3,593 yards (the 3rd most in MU history), 24 TDs and only nine interceptions, all with a bad ankle for much of the season. His 140.5 quarterback rating was second only to Colt McCoy in the Big 12 and good for 30th in the nation.
Of first year starting quarterbacks only 11 had a higher rating than Gabbert. Only five of those quarterbacks play in a BCS conference.
Out of BCS conference quarterbacks returning to their team for 2010, only 7 were statistically better than Gabbert in 2009. That’s great news heading into the upcoming season if you’re a Mizzou fan. However, Gabbert wasn’t perfect in 2009 either.
Obviously, two healthy ankles might have made the story read a bit differently, but Gabbert had his share of struggles. His nine interceptions were a pleasant surprise, especially after Daniel threw 18 in 2008, but they seemed to come at particularly bad times (is there a good time for interceptions?) for MU.
Gabbert threw seven of his nine picks in the second half. Four came in the fourth quarter. I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that the fourth quarter was also Missouri’s worst. The Tigers outscored opponents by 74 in the game’s first three quarters, but in the fourth quarter Mizzou’s point differential was a disappointing -20. In Missouri’s three game losing-streak to Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Texas, Gabbert threw five interceptions. The Tigers were outscored 33-0 in the fourth quarters of those games.
On the bright side of the interceptions is the fact that Gabbert threw no picks in the first quarter of any game. Although Mizzou only held leads at the end of the first quarter four times, at least it wasn’t Gabbert interceptions that led to early deficits.
In 2009, Gabbert easily established himself as the division’s premier passer (sorry, Sod). He should keep that title in 2010 as Missouri and Iowa State are the only teams that enter fall camp with their quarterback situation definitively wrapped up.
But how does he compare to other returning quarterbacks around the nation? Here’s a breakdown of some comparable QB’s who were first year starters in 2009 and return in 2010:
Blaine Gabbert – Sophomore – Missouri
Completion %: 58.9
Rushing TDs: 3
Note: The quarterback for your Missouri Tigers
Landry Jones – Oklahoma – Freshman
Completion %: 58.1
Rushing TDs: 0
Note: Not quite Ram Bradford, but definitely a good player.
Ryan Mallet – Arkansas – Sophomore
Completion %: 55.8
Rushing TDs: 2
Rating: 152.52lt;p class="MsoNormal">Note: Played significantly at Michigan his freshman year before transferring to play for the Pigs. Last year was his first year as a fulltime starter.
Andrew Luck – Stanford – Freshman
Completion %: 56.3
Rushing TDs: 2
Note: Getting a ton of love from the hype machine also known as ESPN. Stats probably a bit low in ’09 due to the fact that he shared a backfield with Toby Gerhardt, the nation’s leading rusher.
Pundits are expecting big things out of Luck in 2010.
Greg McElroy – Alabama – Junior
Completion %: 60.9
Rushing TDs: 1
Note: Not going to wow your socks off with his numbers, but here’s one stat where he led the nation last season: National Titles. I’d take it.
Scott Tolzien – Wisconsin – Junior
Completion %: 64.3
Rushing TDs: 2
Note: Not really known as a great quarterback, nor is Wisconsin a high-flying attack by any means, but he fit the bill plus I wanted to get someone on here from the Big 10.
Jerrod Johnson – Texas A&M - Junior
Completion %: 59.6
Rushing TDs: 9
Note: Dude is good. The world saw what he could do against Texas last season. Should have a monster year in 2010. Johnson started in ’08 but he’s a guy we’ll hear a lot about this season so I threw him on here for comparison’s sake.
Gabbert was easily an above average quarterback in 2009. Had Ndamukong Suh not ruined his ankle he might have been a top 20 quarterback in the nation.
However, he is definitely right in the mix with the guys on the list above as one of the best quarterbacks of 2009 who return in 2010.
For quarterbacks, the second season as a starter is typically where you’re going to see the most improvement. Example: Chase Daniel went from good in ’06 to The Man in ’07. Am I saying Gabbert will make that same jump? Not necessarily. Is it possible? Absolutely.
We can analyze stats all we want but perhaps this article’s most glaring omission is the most important stat: wins. If Gabbert can improve in that category, everything else will take care of itself.