COLUMBIA — Asked on Monday morning whether or not he thinks Blaine Gabbert is ahead of schedule in his development, Gary Pinkel said no.
He has been impressed with Gabbert so far, but he never really had a schedule.
Missouri's Danario Alexander was named Big 12 Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, sharing the honor with Iowa State's Alexander Robinson.
Alexander caught nine balls for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns in Missouri’s 31-21 win at Nevada. His scores covered 31 and 74 yards. Alexander’s receiving yardage was the 11th-best single game performance in MU history, and marked the second straight game that he has recorded multiple touchdown receptions. Alexander now has 12 career touchdowns, which is tied for eighth in the Mizzou record book.
Robinson recorded 178 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns in Iowa State’s 31-20 win over Army.
There are plenty of things that Gabbert is ahead of though, including most of the quarterbacks in the country.
After Missouri's 4-0 start, Gabbert is at or near the top of the national rankings in several passing categories.
His 1,161 yards are good for sixth in the FBS, and second in the Big 12 Conference behind Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts' 1,602. His 11 touchdowns put him in a tie for third in the FBS, and again rank him behind only Potts in the Big 12. And in terms of passer rating Gabbert's 168.6 is good for ninth in the entire FBS and best among Big 12 quarterbacks.
Some of Gabbert's statistical success isn't indicative of the struggles he has had to face thus far. While his final line against Bowling Green indicates that he completed more than 60 percent of his passes, it doesn't show that in the first part of the game Gabbert was 10 for 21. Or that Gabbert's 415-yard performance against Nevada included another first quarter where the Tigers couldn't find the end zone.
But taken as a whole, Gabbert's numbers so far do show one thing for certain. He is as good as Pinkel and the Tiger coaching staff could have hoped. And struggles like the ones against Bowling Green and Nevada are only going to make him better.
"He found out a little about himself," Pinkel said. "That's part of the maturation process. There will be a lot of other things that young quarterbacks go through."
End justifies the means
In the past week the NFL's Indianapolis Colts and The University of Cincinnati Bearcats have both taken home victories in which they had the ball for just over a quarter. Missouri's no huddle offense has kept them down in the rankings of time of possession for the last several seasons, and Pinkel said that's never been a concern of his. As long as his offense gets in the end zone, it doesn't matter how long it takes to get there.
"My whole theory in the spread offense is that if you're going to be uptempo, you're going to be no huddle, you're gonna vertically attack the field and such, you better score points," Pinkel said. "If you're three-and-out and three-out and three-and-out, your defense is going to be on the field for a long time."
No Fighting words
Rivalry is a dangerous word to throw around. It can bring implications and motivations that would otherwise be lost. After being at the mercy of Nebraska for years, Missouri has finally started to fight back a bit, scoring wins in consecutive years over the Cornhuskers.
Pinkel was quick to praise Nebraska, and the season that they have had so far. But don't call it a rivalry.
"As far as a rivalry, we've always had great respect for Nebraska," Pinkel said. "They're traditionally been one of the best programs in the nation and certainly in the Big 12."