It’s a perfect analogy to compare Missouri’s first four games to the NFL preseason. It was four games long. The offense and defense were learning the schemes of new coordinators. The competition was not top-notch. Heck, the last game even was on a Friday night, just like in the NFL.
For the most part, the announcers last night were annoying. One point Rod Gilmore made that I liked was that young teams usually get better as the season progresses. That’s good, because to compete for the Big 12 title, even the Big 12 North, Missouri’s going to have to improve.
Here’s a two-word reason why they can: Blaine Gabbert. In running the regular offense, it was an evening-long struggle against the fiesty Nevada Wolfpack. This is the same team that’s been outscored by 25 points a game to date. Gabbert couldn’t get anything going except for three key plays. They were all after the pocket collapsed. In two of those plays, Gabbert flushed to the right. From watching way too many games, I assumed he was setting up to throw the ball out of bounds. Both times he pulled back his arm and threw a deep ball down the sideline right to his receiver. Neither time was the receiver wide open. These are throws that might not work in the NFL. Luckily this is college.
Don’t scouts see a little Ben Roethlisberger in Gabbert? Gabbert doesn’t have the girth quite yet, but a 6’5 QB with that kind of arm strength who can run a little is an NFL prototype. Since he’s running in the so-called gimmicky spread offense, he’s going to need some time to develop. Missouri fans can only hope that he hangs around after his junior year.
As for the team, they seem a little green. This could be the set up year for next year’s run at a conference title. I’m not afraid of Kansas or Nebraska, although both games are possible defeats. It’s the Texas game, and Oklahoma State, that will be the true tests. Last year’s upset defeat to OSU, a winnable game, followed by a complete debacle in Austin showed us that sometimes the “veteran” team doesn’t always come through. So who knows. OSU may not be as good as last year. Oklahoma’s already lost a game. We have no idea how good Texas is. Sometimes the window of opportunity opens when we think we’re not ready. A good team goes through regardless.
If it were just based on uniforms, the Titans with their throwback Oiler look should dismantle the Jets in their funky Titan gear. There are few examples where the throwback is worse than the present day look. Heck, the Jets went with a throwback look permanently a few years ago and it works. I hope other teams, like the Chargers, follow suit.