Behind Enemy Lines: Missouri Tigers
Here is this week’s edition of behind enemy lines with the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Missouri beat writer Dave Matter.
Brandon Chatmon: What is the deal with the Tigers running game? Is it a game plan issue, talent issue or just a matter of finding the right way to use the
talent they have?
Dave Matter: It’s a combination of factors. The coaches tweaked the blocking scheme in the offseason, and there’s been a transition period for the line and backs. Also, the line can afford to be more physical at the point of attack, especially inside. Missouri fans despise the zone running plays that start with the tailback running horizontally toward the sideline until he picks a hole, but the coaches are going to stick with that scheme this season. At least they’re saying they’ll stick with it.
BC: How is Gabbert’s health? Will he be close to 100 percent on Saturday? If he isn’t how might that change the gameplan?
DM: He didn’t appear to be struggling on Monday or during the brief portion of practice we’re allowed to watch on Tuesday. His mobility in the pocket might become an issue, so the game plan might call for more quick-hitting passes and fewer rollouts or zone-reads that require him to run outside the pocket and expose that ankle to defenders. You might see MU use their tight ends to block in the passing game more often than usual.
BC: I’m sure the Tigers coaching staff would like Gabbert to have a higher completion percentage. Is he a gambler/risk taker or is it all just a part of his youth and inexperience?
DM: His completion percentage was excellent headed into the Nebraska game, 66.4, which was three points better than what Chase Daniel posted through his first four career starts in 2006. In fact, Gabbert led the Big 12 in QB rating after four games. That, obviously, changed after the Nebraska game. He didn’t throw his first interception until the fourth quarter of the fifth game of the year, but he had several dangerous passes that could have easily been picked off in the first few games. I wouldn’t say he takes chances with his throws, but his inexperience shows when a play breaks down and he tries to scramble around and make something out of nothing rather than throwing the ball away. Twice this season he’s made that mistake and both led to sacks and fumbles.
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