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Sure-handed Daniel making impression

Saturday, September 13, 2008 | 9:13 p.m. CDT; updated 4:32 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Chase Daniel listens to Assistant Athletic Director Rex Sharp during the second half. Daniel was relieved in the third quarter by backups Chase Patton and Blaine Gabbert.

COLUMBIA — Chase Daniel nonchalantly trotted off the field, making a pit stop for a short celebration with his backup, Chase Patton. After making his way through a parade of pats on the back from teammates and coaches, the senior quarterback took a seat on the bench by his offensive line. He then took in a lecture from a pair of coaches after completing an 80-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin on the first play of the Tigers’ second drive Saturday.
It was a fantastic play — the Tigers’ longest from scrimmage this season.
It was also a historic play — one that made Daniel Missouri’s all-time leading passer.
“It means a lot. That’s a big, big thing for me,” Daniel said of his record. “Hopefully we still have a long way to go.”
Watch the senior, rather than the play, and it’s easy to confuse the 80-yarder to Maclin with any of Daniel’s other 71 tosses to the end zone as a Tiger.
They’re throws he expects to make, not throws he celebrates.
“As soon as you start thinking you’ve got it, it goes,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “You start thinking you’re the man, and you’re real good, and nobody can stop us. Guess what? It goes fast.”
A record-breaking ball like the one Maclin caught would usually find a permanent home above a fireplace, signed with a marker and slowly deflating while encased in glass. Even though he said he was honored to be the record holder, the only football Daniel seems focused on is the one made of Waterford crystal perched atop the Sears Trophy and given to the national champion.
“I really don’t know,” Daniel said of the ball’s location. “They might have it for me later, but I haven’t seen it yet.”
Maclin was clueless, too.
“I gave it back to the ref, but hopefully they get that back to Chase,” Maclin said.
For Pinkel, Daniel is the second consecutive signal-caller to shatter the school record for career passing yards. A four-year starter, Brad Smith had put more than 1,800 yards between himself and Jeff Handy, the previous record holder. With even more talent in the form of five-star recruit Blaine Gabbert waiting his turn in line, Daniel’s record could last no longer than Smith’s.
“Well, that would be nice,” Pinkel said. “Brad Smith did some things that people said, ‘Well, that’ll never be broken.’ That’s the beauty of college football, though. One guy leaves, and another steps up.”
Daniel’s record-breaking throw didn’t look like much before Maclin got hold of it. Still needing more than 40 yards to earn his spot at the top of the record book, Daniel hit the speedster on a short pass over the middle, and the All-American turned it into something special, dodging defenders and sprinting down the left sideline for the touchdown that perhaps only fans immediately realized was special.
“I had no idea what his stats were,” Maclin said. “But I’d do anything to help that guy.”
A hot, rainy day at Faurot Field was the most unlikely of stages for another record to fall, the highest single-game completion percentage. Eighty-two percent of Daniel’s passes found their target Saturday as the Southlake, Tex., native comfortably had his best game of the season and second best of his career with 405 yards on 23-of-28 passing.
Not surprised, however, was Maclin, who finished with 172 yards on six catches for three touchdowns and apparently thinks this offense has plenty in common with the U.S. Postal Service.
“We like to pass the ball,” Maclin said. “So we’re gonna do it in rain, sleet, snow, dry day, regardless.”
Daniel has put up eye-popping numbers through three games this season while playing in just over four halves, not to mention beating a ranked Illinois team in his team’s first game. A fourth-place Heisman finisher a year ago, Daniel looks bent on trimming the number of quarterbacks in contention for the title of the nation’s best to just one.
Of course, inside the Missouri locker room, that’s an argument that was settled a long time before Saturday.
“Definitely, by far, by far,” Maclin said confidently of Daniel’s spot as the nation’s best. “I’m doing everything I can to get Chase to New York.”

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