Daniel sparks Tigers, but Smith still starter

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said the depth chart is unchanged after Saturday's game.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The Missouri Tigers got a glimpse of the future and liked what they saw, but not enough to change their game plan for the remainder of the season.

Coach Gary Pinkel made it clear that Brad Smith is still the starting quarterback despite the performance of freshman backup Chase Daniel in rallying the Tigers from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Iowa State 27-24 Saturday.

With Smith on the bench recovering from a head injury, Daniel took over and led two scoring drives in the final 9 minutes. Adam Crossett's field goal in overtime was the margin of victory for Missouri (4-2, 2-1 Big 12).

Playing just during the two fourth-quarter drives, overtime and one series in the second quarter, Daniel was 16-for-23 for 185 yards. He was poised in leading the final 87-yard drive that began with 2:32 to play, completing six passes for 75 yards.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel liked the confidence and performance of Daniel, the Texas Class 5A two-time player of the year out of Southlake Carroll High School. But it was hardly enough to bench Smith, Missouri's all-time leader in passing, rushing and total yards.

"Nothings changed," Pinkel said. "Brad's our starter, and Chase is our backup."

Pinkel said Smith has recovered from the hit to the head. His performance before the injury Saturday was perhaps his worst at Missouri, rushing for just 39 yards and passing for 45 while failing to lead the Tigers to any points (Missouri scored twice on defensive touchdowns in the first quarter).

After the game, Pinkel said, "Let's not overreact, but I would suggest we have a pretty good backup."

Daniel came to Missouri expecting to redshirt but earned the backup position during his preseason play. Pinkel has worked him into every game, usually for just one series.

All told, he is 25-for-41 for 246 yards and one touchdown. He has also rushed for a touchdown, and ran three times in setting up Crossett's game-winner Saturday.

Pinkel said he will continue to give Daniel some game action. How much he'll play against Nebraska (5-1, 2-1) Saturday wasn't known.

"My job is to be ready to play whenever they need me to come in to play whether it be if Brad's hurt or not," Daniel said.

As for Smith, Daniel said he was one of the main reasons Daniel chose Missouri.

"The tutelage under him, a living legend at Missouri, is unbelievable," Daniel said. "What better opportunity do you get to learn under one of the best signal callers in America for a year?"

Two weeks ago, Smith set the Big 12 career rushing record for a quarterback, and he's 289 yards shy of the NCAA record. He leads all rushers in the conference this season and is 15th in the nation.

"This is Brad's team," Daniel said. "We're going to stick with Brad until he can't go anymore."

Some fans are calling for Daniel as the starter. Smith is unbothered by the reaction.

"I understand that's how people are -- you can do well and people love you," Smith said. "When you're not doing as well, then they don't want you anymore. I'm just concerned about playing ball, helping my team out and winning games."

Pinkel said: "It's one game, it's one moment, and everybody's favorite player is the backup quarterback."

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