By RPT, Rock M Nation
One of Missouri's biggest reasons for excitement in 2010 was the fact that Blaine Gabbert would once again be 100 percent healthy. Tiger fans spent a large chunk of last season debating whether or not a banged-up Gabbert was a better option than a healthy Jimmy Costello (Editor's verdict: Yes). Gabbert hurt himself in the first game of conference play a year ago, launching several weeks of "How's Blaine???" questioning from the media, and almost a year later to the day, Missouri may be staring down the same situation.
In the second quarter, Gabbert's right hip was hit squarely as he was sandwiched in the redzone, leaving him slow to return to his feet. To Gabbert's credit, he played through the pain (albeit struggling a little bit along the way) despite struggling to breathe at times, according to Pinkel, who said he pulled Gabbert once the quarterback finally admitted to being hurt.
While the speculation will run rampant about Gabbert's health, the truth is this: Missouri may finally have someone else ready to handle the job if necessary. Outside of a few ball security issues in his debut against McNeese State, James Franklin has done nothing but impress in his time behind center. He entered in the fourth quarter and engineered an eight-play, 70-yard drive that included a 34-yard charge up the middle on the zone read as well as the first touchdown pass of his career on a well-sold pump fake. Gabbert's high hip pointer means Missouri's quarterback stability may be cloudy for the next couple of weeks, but long term, it's crystal clear for the next few years.