23 June 2010
Missouri has some question marks heading into 2010. However, Blaine Gabbert isn’t one of them. In part two of our three part series, we examine how Gabbert compares to his legendary predecessor, Chase Daniel.
Fair or not, Gabbert is going to draw comparisons to Chase Daniel (photo by Parker Eshelman, Columbia Tribune).
Part 2. How does Gabbert compare to Chase Daniel?
Part 3. What can we expect from Gabbert this year?
Maybe it’s not fair. Maybe it’s not even relevant. But it is just too tempting to compare Blaine Gabbert to Chase Daniel. Physically, there is no comparison. Gabbert is listed at 6’5 240 pounds and will be a first round NFL draft pick whenever he chooses to be. Daniel on the other hand, was more than a bit undersized. However, their performances through their respective sophomore year's at Mizzou are nearly identical. In his junior campaign Daniel went on to set just about every MU passing record on his way to being a Heisman finalist. If stats are any indication, Gabbert might just follow that same curve in 2010.
So what if Chase Daniel wasn't as tall as his coach? He still won 30 games in three years as Mizzou's starter.
Both quarterbacks earned playing time as true freshman. Daniel attempted a pass in every game of his freshman season except two. Gabbert only saw the field three times going a whopping 5-13 for 47 yards. However, that didn’t seem to hinder Gabbert in his first year as a fulltime starter.
In their sophomore seasons, both quarterbacks got off to hot starts. Both Daniel’s ’06 and Gabbert’s ’09 teams breezed through their non-conference schedule unscathed. Through non-conference play Daniel had thrown 11 touchdowns and one interception. In his non-conference schedule Gabbert threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions.
But after fast starts were disappointing finishes. The ’06 version ended the year 8-5 capped by a disappointing Sun Bowl loss. Along the way, Mizzou lost to both ranked opponents they played (OU at home, Oregon State in Sun Bowl). They also had an embarrassing loss to Iowa State.
The ’09 Tigers fared similarly. They ended the season 8-5 and lost to all three ranked opponents (Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Texas). The year ended with a frustrating loss in the Texas Bowl. They also had an embarrassing loss to Baylor.
But beyond team similarities are the individual similarities. Daniel set MU passing records (that he would later break…twice) as a sophomore by completing 63.5 percent of his passes for 3,527 yards, 28 touchdowns, and compiling a 145.06 quarterback rating. Daniel also rushed for four touchdowns. That’s eerily similar to Gabbert’s sophomore campaign where he completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 3,593 yards, 24 touchdowns and achieved a quarterback rating of 140.45. He also rushed for three touchdowns.
We all know what happened after Chase’s sophomore season. He erupted on the national scene leading Mizzou to the nation’s number one ranking, a 12-2 record, and a Cotton Bowl win. He completed a mind-boggling 69 percent of his passes. His 4,306 passing yards and 33 touchdowns were both in the top six nationally. Can we expect the same from Blaine?
Well, Chase had one major advantage. In 2007 Missouri had its greatest receiving corps in school history. Check out Daniel’s top targets from 2007:
Jeremy Maclin – first round NFL draft pick
Martin Rucker – fourth round NFL draft pick
Will Franklin – fourth round NFL draft pick
Chase Coffman – third round NFL draft pick
Danario Alexander – led NCAA in receiving yards as a senior
Tommy Saunders – spent time on Buccaneers and Lions’ roster
Jared Perry – currently on 49ers roster
If we go ahead and assume DA will spend time on an NFL roster soon, that’s seven receivers that went on to at least have a chance in the NFL. Not many teams have ever boasted so many threats. Daniel was great as a junior but it never hurts when your receivers are that good. Meanwhile, Gabbert’s top seven receivers for his junior year will look something like this:
Jerrell Jackson – 46 career catches, 2 TD’s
Wes Kemp – 24 career catches, 3 TD’s
Rolandis Woodland – Five career catches
L’Damian Washington – No career catches
TJ Moe – Two career catches
Michael Egnew – Three career catches
Andrew Jones – 28 career catches
This is not to say that Mizzou’s receivers won’t have breakout seasons in 2010, but I think it’s safe to give the advantage to the ’07 crew.
As a junior, Daniel faced four ranked opponents in the regular season (#23 Nebraska, #5 Oklahoma, #21 Texas Tech, and #2 kU). Mizzou went 3-1 in those games. As a junior it is likely that Gabbert will face only three ranked opponents. Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Oklahoma will all likely be ranked when Mizzou faces them. If Mizzou can snag two or three wins against those opponents it is likely 2010 could go as well as 2007.
From his sophomore to junior season Daniel improved his numbers and went from a solid Big 12 quarterback to a national star. Let’s say Gabbert’s stats improved exactly as Daniel’s did from sophomore to junior year. That means Gabbert will complete nearly 64 percent of his passes for more than 4,300 yards, 29 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions this coming season. That would easily rank him as a top 10 BCS conference quarterback, and if you ask me, that’s not out of the question. Most importantly, if Gabbert follows Daniel’s ascension, Mizzou would also win four more games than they did last season, and I think that’s something we’re all hoping to see.
It’s probably not fair to Blaine to compare him to Chase Daniel. Every year is different and every situation is different. But after seeing what Daniel did for Mizzou football in his time here, maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.