We start our look at spring ball for the Tigers with a look at the most important position. The quarterback spot takes on added significance this year with Brad Smith leaving. Missouri isn't going to be the same offense without Smith, obviously. It might not be better or worse, but it will be far, far, far different, no matter who is taking the snaps.
The Starter: Chase Daniel has the inside track. He has done the one thing no other QB on the roster has done: He's won a game on Saturday. The Iowa State comeback, which ultimately put Missouri in a bowl game, saved the Tigers' season. It also gave Tiger fans great hope that all might not be lost when Smith left. Daniel isn't the flashiest guy and he did throw some ugly passes this season. No one will mistake him for Smith on the run. But he has a presence in the huddle that we heard was the best on the team even last year. He won't win it without a fight, but Daniel goes in with a little head start.
The Backup: Oh, how quickly we forget. Remember that Chase Patton came into this program with even more fanfare, probably, than Daniel. He clearly has the best arm on the team. He is probably the best pure quarterback on the team. But he has to prove it on the practice field, which he hasn't been able to do thus far. Those close to the program keep on saying that the quarterback race is a two-Chase affair. Patton starts with a small deficit, but he's got the gifts to make it a fight.
Spring Projection: You will see both of these guys get plenty of reps with the first team. Ultimately, we don't see a two-quarterback system. Somebody is going to win the job outright. With Brandon Coleman at wide receiver and the rest of the quarterbacks not here until the fall, each will have ample opportunity to do just that. Our guess is that Daniel ends up as the starter. We saw more out of him in that game than we've seen out of Patton so far. There's a chance we could be proven wrong, but for now, we stick with the semi-proven commodity.
Things could change if… Well, we don't see a way they can change, short of an injury that forces Coleman back to QB. The Tigers have two players who have a chance to start at quarterback next season. There's no way any of the true freshmen would be able to challenge them by the first game. This one seems just about set.
Over the next three weeks, PowerMizzou.com will take an in-depth look at the two-deep at every single position entering spring ball.