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August 27, 2010
The open portion of fall camp ended on Thursday. The Tigers will hold their first Illinois practice on Saturday morning. With camp in the rearview mirror, PowerMizzou.com hands out our 2010 camp awards:
Best Offensive Player: This was all set to go to Derrick Washington. And on the field, he was the best player on either side of the ball. But at this point, we don't know when-or if-Washington will play again. Blaine Gabbert fairly quietly had as good a camp as anyone could hope for. It was highlighted by the second scrimmage in which Gabbert completed 16-of-21 passes including three touchdowns. He has clearly taken command of the offense. He now says all the right things and his actions back it up. Ultimately, Gabbert will prove it on Saturdays, but he did as much as he good to inspire confidence among his teammates and coaches this month.
Best Defensive Player: The most popular target for Missouri fans over the last 12 months became the last guy a Tiger quarterback would want to pick on. Carl Gettis had what Cornell Ford called the best camp of his career. Whether it is the schematic adjustments or simply the fact that Gettis realized he was a senior and he had to turn it on now, the cornerback was a standout throughout camp.
Breakout Offensive Player: T.J. Moe took over a starting spot on the depth chart after Jerrell Jackson's injury, but he would likely have grabbed one somewhere even if Jackson stayed healthy. He was consistently Gabbert's favorite target and he probably had fewer dropped passes than anyone else in the receiving corps. At this point, most observers expect Moe to lead the Tigers in receptions.
Breakout Defensive Player: At the team's deepest position, not many were talking about Michael Sam coming into camp. But that changed after a five-sack scrimmage in which he also recovered a fumble and nearly returned it for a touchdown. Sam rose to second on the depth chart and ought to see significant time on the field this season.
The Pressure's on (Offense): Throw those redshirts away, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy. With Washington suspended and De'Vion Moore injured, the true freshmen are currently second and third on the depth chart at tailback. Ready or not, they'll both be pressed into action early in the season.
The Pressure's on (Defense): Missouri's biggest problem in the passing game last season was the big play. Many of those problems resulted from the play of the safeties. Jasper Simmons and Kenji Jackson opened camp as the starters and remain atop the depth chart. But with a bevy of potential replacements behind them, both will have to play well early in the season.
Still Wondering (Offense): Beyond Moe and Michael Egnew, how good is the receiving corps? Wes Kemp caught one pass in three scrimmages and Rolandis Woodland was inconsistent. L'Damian Washington looked good, but has never played in a game. Beau Brinkley is hurt and no one is sure how big a role Andrew Jones will have. It is still unclear which-if any-of the true freshman receivers and tight ends will play. Potential runs deep in the receiving corps, but little has been proven.
Still Wondering (Defense): Is Missouri any good up the middle? The Tigers stopped the run well last year up until the final game of the season. Dominique Hamilton has had a pretty good camp, but there are still questions beyond him at defensive tackle. How will the Tigers be in the middle? We'll find out early as Illinois will likely try to ease a redshirt freshman quarterback into big-time football with a run heavy attack in the season opener.