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March 2, 2011

Five spring questions



Missouri starts spring football in less than a week and PowerMizzou.com will be the complete source for all Tiger fans leading up to the Black and Gold game. Today, we continue our spring previews with a look at the five biggest questions facing the Tigers over the next month.

Who starts at quarterback? Obviously, it's the number one thing the Tigers have to find out over the next few months. The truth is, it's not likely there will be an answer after the Black and Gold game on April 16th. James Franklin and Tyler Gabbert look to be the leading candidates, but it will likely be the most heated battle for snaps in Gary Pinkel's Tiger tenure.

Does a new receiver emerge? Missouri's three starters all return from last season, but the Tigers didn't have a true big play threat last year. Jerrell Jackson and Wes Kemp were both very good at times, but also inconsistent. While T.J. Moe is a near lock to start, things could get interesting at the other spots if a young player emerges.

Who mans the middle? Sheldon Richardson is expected to arrive this summer and should provide immediate help in the middle of the defensive line. But is Dominique Hamilton ready to go? Can Jimmy Burge or Marvin Foster step up? Does Lucas Vincent make an early impact? All questions that need to be answered to shore up a run defense that was gashed at times in the second half of last season.

Does Gooden become a star?: Over the last few years, the Tigers' leading defensive player has usually been a linebacker. James Kinney set tackling records, Sean Weatherspoon became one of Missouri's best and Andrew Gachkar led the way for an improved defense a year ago. The most likely candidate to fill that role looks to junior Zaviar Gooden. Can Gooden become one of the Big 12's breakout performers? The answer could start to emerge next week.

Who starts in the secondary? Missouri has returning starters all over the field, but not in the defensive backfield. Three of last year's four starters are gone with Kenji Jackson the only one who will return. Kip Edwards is a likely starter at one corner and E.J. Gaines looks to have the edge at the other spot. Matt White and Tavon Bolden lead the race at safety opposite Jackson, but there should be plenty of competition for at least two of the secondary jobs this spring.

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