Now that the 2010 college football season is over, let's take a look back at the Missouri Tigers and how they performed on the gridiron.
Here are grades for the Tigers, position by position.
No player in recent memory has been more heavily scrutinized than Blaine Gabbert. His overall play at Texas Tech was horrendous, and his mind-numbing interception in the Insight Bowl drove fans crazy. These two are exhibits A and B for those saying "good riddance" as the quarterback prepares for the NFL draft.
There are plenty of mechanics and smaller issues for Gabbert to improve upon, but those who understand Missouri's offense know that it depends heavily on quarterback play. He didn't throw many interceptions, and he was masterful against Oklahoma. The bottom line is that the offense scored just under 30 points a game. Quarterbacks are judged by wins and losses, and Gabbert won 10 games.
Running Back: A-
Without Derrick Washington, many expected the offense would redefine the term "pass-heavy" in the 2010 season. That didn't happen. De'Vion Moore, Kendial Lawrence, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy combined for an average of 5.77 yards a carry for 1,557 rushing yards. This is made even more impressive considering none got the reps of a starter during fall camp and that Josey and Murphy were true freshmen.
The game plan of playing all four in the first half and riding the hot hand in the second half proved very effective for most of the season.
Wide Receiver: B-
Understand that the grade encompasses the group as a whole. T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew were phenomenal. Each caught 90-plus balls, and Egnew was a finalist for the Mackey Award. Other than those two, no one else was much more than average.
Jerrell Jackson gets a semi-pass due to playing with a cast on his broken wrist early in the season, but he didn't play as well as he is capable on a consistent basis. Wes Kemp's stats (39 catches for 420 yards and three TDs) look pretty decent and really aren't that bad at all, but there were times he struggled catching the football.
Offensive Line: B+
Tackles Elvis Fisher and Dan Hoch slowed opponents all season, and center Tim Barnes was one of the best in the country. Guards Jayson Palmgren and Austin Wuebbels were the weak links but still were solid for the most part.
They paved the way for an effective running game, and Blaine Gabbert often found himself with plenty of time to throw the football. The Nebraska game was the only time all season where the unit was outplayed.
Defensive Line: B
This really could be separated into two groups. The defensive ends earned an A, but the tackles didn't earn more than a C. That averages out to a B. Missouri was at its deepest at defensive end in 2010. The sack leader wasn't a starter most of the season, and the best player missed three games. Aldon Smith, Brad Madison, Jaquies Smith and freshman All-American Michael Sam wreaked havoc up front.
The defensive tackles were mediocre until Dominique Hamilton went down with a broken ankle. Without him, Terrell Resonno, Jimmy Burge and Brendan Donaldson were exposed against the run.
Andrew Gachkar played well enough to earn Big 12 Player of the Year votes, and Will Ebner brought the wood once he returned from an early season suspension. The linebacking corps enjoyed its success despite Luke Lambert missing most of the season.
With a bit more help from the defensive tackles stopping the run game, this group could have shined even brighter. The pass coverage could have been a bit better, but honestly, criticizing that would be nitpicking.
When grading the secondary, one can grade comparing to the 2008 and 2009 MU secondaries, or it can be compared to others across the country. Compared to '08 and '09, this year's secondary gets an absolute A+. The secondary did give up some passing yards in 2010, but it was light years ahead of last season.
Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland played up on receivers more in 2010, and it seemed to have paid off. Kenji Jackson, Jerrell Harrison and Kip Edwards also contributed to this group, which dramatically increased its interception total from the painfully low total of nine in 2009.
Special Teams: B
Grant Ressel was again fantastic in the kicking game, even though he missed two extra points (the first for an MU kicker since 2005). Matt Grabner and Trey Barrow put a dent in opposing return games with the ever-effective rugby-style punts. The coverage units did leave much to be desired, however, as opponents found themselves starting with good field position on a fairly regular basis.
The return units were consistently average throughout the season with Carl Gettis returning punts and Marcus Murphy running back kickoffs.
Derrick Washington was kicked off the team less than 10 days before the season started. Many thought the offense was in trouble and wondered if the team could maintain focus. Ten wins and the program's first win over a top-ranked team in Oklahoma (not to mention Gary Pinkel's first win against OU or Texas) later, many believe Pinkel may have done his best coaching job this past year.