Blaine Gabbert is becoming one of the best QBs in the country. He was probably already there but since the start of Big 12 conference play -- otherwise known as better competition -- his play has risen. When the competition rises so does his play. That's a good quality from the QB.
Mizzou travels to Nebraska this weekend in what is now the biggest game of the season. Mizzou's coaching staff says they've spent a lot of time this offseason looking at Nebraska and trying to figure them out. That includes Gabbert who last year against the Huskers completed only 39 percent of his passes and threw two picks.
But Gabbert this year has taken a leap and at the right time. Here's a look at Gabbert's solid play and what he's doing for his team on the big picture and the small picture.
Consider his last three games which are also the first three Big 12 conference games of the year for Mizzou.
- Colorado: 17-of-29, 191 yards, 2 TDs
- at Texas A&M: 31-of-47, 361 yards, 3 TDs
- Oklahoma: 30-of-42, 308 yards, 1 TD
These three games -- particularly the last two -- are almost a mark that something has clicked for Gabbert. He didn't put up these types of numbers in the Big 12 last year. He didn't put up those numbers in the four non-conference gimmes. It's the best stretch of games for Gabbert all year. I love the leap that he's made from '09 to '10 and it's showing in this group of games right here.
It's good to know your QB can step up in critical situations.
On a smaller scale, consider his ability to step up last week against Oklahoma. Down 21-20 in the fourth quarter, Gabbert leads Mizzou on a 5-play, 72-yard drive that ends with a long TD pass to WR Jerrell Jackson. In the fourth quarter, he was 8-of-9 for 95 yards and a TD. That was the most important time of the game and Gabbert had his best quarter.
It's neat to look at it like that because, on the large scale, he improved in his team's big games. Getting more in-depth, he improved specifically in the Oklahoma game at the most critical time. That's an outstanding quality in a QB and one that separates good from great. I'm not calling Gabbert great but I am saying he's starting to show signs of someone who's starting to "get it".
The goal now is Nebraska. Mizzou's spent time on them -- a lot of time -- so it's critical that Gabbert comes out with a monster game. If he continues this trend of showing up in big games on the schedule then we can expect him to give Mizzou an excellent shot at victory.