03 January 2011

2011

With football season an agonizing 9 months away, questions remain about the upcoming campaign.  Who will be the quarterback is the top question on Tiger fans' minds.

Blaine Gabbert has been starting for the Tigers since his sophomore year, 2009.  He's helped take this senior class to the top spot in wins, at 40...a university record.  He's been a part of the team since 2008, when he was third-string behind Chase Daniel and Chase Coffman in the 10-4 season.  He has amassed over 3186 yards on 301 completions, with 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions...the last of which was the most costly (Micah Hines pick-6 in the Insight Bowl).

"Gab" is currently listed as the second-highest QB prospect for the NFL draft this year, behind Andrew Luck of Stanford.  What this means is he could be one of the highest draft picks from the University of Missouri (Jeremy Maclin is the highest).  While Gabbert is an outstanding quarterback with excellent form throwing the ball, his decision making skills are going to be what holds him out of the NFL.  The pick-6 to Micah Hines was made because Blaine was trying to force something that wasn't there, which has been his biggest flaw ever since he was named the starter for 2009.  Ever since the '09 Nebraska game, Blaine hasn't been the same as he was before.  His high ankle sprain he suffered has left him with a noticeable limp to this day.  His durability is questionable, as he went out with a hip pointer in the Colorado game in 2010 (a 26-0 win), but his recovery is what makes him a competitor.  A week after the Colorado game, he played all 60:00 of the TAMU game...much to the displeasure of the Tiger fans.

Blaine is an excellent quarterback, there is no doubt, and he will be successful in the NFL if he can stay healthy and not make the same mistakes he did in college.  Do we want him to actually declare for the draft?  In Tiger Nation, it's divided.  We don't want the stupid mistakes anymore, but he's the main reason this team did so well this year (10-3, 6-2).  His cannon of an arm allows the receivers to outrun the defense, and his legs give linebackers nightmares.  He needs to learn when to pull back on the string from time to time, as it seems in the Nebraska and Texas Tech games he was trying to throw it 80 yards on every pass.  After the Tech game, he appeared to have calmed down and wasn't so antsy in the pocket, similar to his play previous to the '09 Nebraska injury.  In the Insight Bowl, he found his rhythm and was doing well, taking the Tigers to a late 4th quarter lead.  Then the interception by Hines was when the Tigers started to show signs of their vulnerability.  On 4th down, wide receiver T.J. Moe hauled in a catch to give Mizzou a first down, but after review, the officials overturned the call and allowed Iowa to run the clock out to secure the victory.

People have been blaming Gabbert for the pick-6 play, when in reality, he isn't the one to be blamed.  Offensive coordinator David Yost is the one who develops the plays, calls them down to the field, and Gabbert runs the offense.  You can't lay the blame on one person alone.  Yost and Gabbert share the blame equally.  Yost for running that play, Gabbert for trying to force it.  As the old saying goes in football: "Live to play another down."  He should have thrown it away, but...coulda, woulda, shoulda.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

I, personally, hope Gabbert does come back for his senior year.  He's the pivot point of the offense.  When he's off, the whole team suffers (Nebraska, Texas Tech), but when he's on, there's no one in America that can stop him.

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