Missouri begins the second half of spring football on Tuesday afternoon. The Tigers will hold six practices prior to the April 17th Black and Gold game.
Prior to the start of spring ball, PowerMizzou.com identified the spring storylines to watch. As we get ready for the second half of spring ball, we revisit those stories. What have we learned and what are we still waiting to find out?
The Quarterback Battle
We knew coming in that Blaine Gabbert was the starter. That hasn't changed. But the backup situation was what held the most intrigue. Halfway through, the major move has been made by James Franklin. The freshman is right there with Jimmy Costello competing for the No. 2 job. Ashton Glaser has looked like a different quarterback than he did a year ago. The backup competition, in our opinion, comes down to those two. Will Glaser win out allowing Missouri to redshirt both freshmen? Or do the Tigers want to get Franklin on the field to stagger the classes at the only position where just one guy normally plays?
The Running Game
This question didn't surround personnel so much as the scheme. Through the first half of spring, we haven't seen anything leading us to believe a major shift should be expected. It was thought we might see more formations with the tight end attached to the line, but so far, we haven't. That doesn't mean it won't happen-particularly in the fall-but we haven't seen it to this point. As far as personnel, with De'Vion Moore limited by injury, Kendial Lawrence has a chance to make a charge to be the primary backup to Derrick Washington.
Manning the Middle
We knew Dominique Hamilton would start. And after overcoming an early injury, that holds true. Terrell Resonno has been limited by a knee injury so the second spot really isn't more secure than we thought it was coming into the spring. Jimmy Burge and even walk-on Brendan Donaldson have turned a few heads. Chris Earnhardt and George White will vie for some time as well.
On the Back Line
There are some new coverages according to coaches and players. Honestly, we aren't probably qualified to break down the technical differences. Yes, there has been some man-to-man press coverage, but contrary to popular belief, that's always been in the repertoire to some extent. It's possible the Tigers are doing a little more of it, but we haven't broken down every rep to know for sure. Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland (who is having a very solid spring) are solid as the starters and Kip Edwards seems to have put the third corner spot in a stranglehold. At safety, other than Jasper Simmons being a certain starter, things are wide open. Kenji Jackson, Jarrell Harrison, Kenronte Walker, Matt White and Tavon Bolden will all vie for the job and we won't have any idea until at least halfway through fall camp who will win out.
Who Replaces Super 'Nario?
This is probably the one question that has gotten the most resoundingly positive answer. The fact is, receivers in this offense will put up numbers. Will anyone put up the numbers that Alexander did last year? Not likely because no Tiger ever has before. But Rolandis Woodland, Michael Egnew and L'Damian Washington have all had good springs. Jerrell Jackson is the go-to guy. Wes Kemp has experience and T.J. Moe looks worlds better than last fall. Missouri has guys who will catch the ball.
Who Takes Charge?
Aldon Smith looks like a leader on defense and Kevin Rutland does as well. Offensively, Derrick Washington has the personality to lead the team. Ultimately, Blaine Gabbert will have to take the reigns of this team, but that's not something we'll know until well into the season.
The Tigers return to practice on Tuesday at 3:30 and PowerMizzou.com will have complete coverage.
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