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March 23, 2011

Breaking down the depth chart changes



Following Missouri's first spring scrimmage, there were some shake-ups on the depth chart noted following Tuesday's practice. To be clear, an official depth chart is not distributed to the media after the start of spring camp. However, by looking at stretch lines and watching practice, it's not tough to deduce who is lining up where. PowerMizzou.com takes a look at the changes and offers up our thoughts:

Quarterback: Tyler Gabbert has moved from No. 3 to a co-No. 1 position with James Franklin. It's not a surprise, but it's a surprise at the same time. It was fairly clear Gabbert would be at least the No. 2. And since the start of bowl practices, he has probably been the best quarterback on the roster. At the same time, a move all the way to even with Franklin is a fairly meteoric rise in just two weeks of practice. We have said all along we don't anticipate a starter named until fall camp. That is still the likely scenario, though Gabbert has a chance to seize control if he keeps up his high-level play for the second half of spring ball.

"You have to stay humble and stay hungry," Gabbert said. "But if you get an opportunity, you have to go out and capitalize. That's what I'm looking forward to."

Wide Receiver: The only change we noticed was L'Damian Washington to second string ahead of Rolandis Woodland. Washington has impressed us since he got on campus nearly two years ago and had two touchdowns in the scrimmage. There is plenty of competition here. You can't count Woodland, or any of the young receivers, out of the race by any means at this point.

Offensive Line: The most surprising thing perhaps was Mitch Morse now backing up Travis Ruth at center. The snaps were a problem many noted in the first scrimmage, but Josh Henson had glowing things to say about Morse when we talked to him last week.

"I think there's certain guys that fit the mold as far as what their skill set is that they're a tackle or they're a guard-center type guy," the coach said. "Mitch Morse is a guy who's good at it. He can step and snap and move so we started moving him into a snapping role."

The ascension of Morse moved Justin Britt back over to guard where he backs up Jayson Palmgren currently. At the other guard spot, Mark Hill is currently second string, moving over from tackle. More than anything, that shows the improvement of Chris Freeman, who is now second string behind Dan Hoch at one tackle. Along with Austin Wuebbels, Elvis Fisher and Jack Meiners, those mentioned form Mizzou's current two-deep along the line.

Defensive Line: Marvin Foster lined up opposite Terrell Resonno as a starter (which means he is really second-string because Dominique Hamilton is out injured). Lucas Vincent has the other reserve spot at tackle with Jimmy Burge in the rotation as well. Vincent has impressed throughout his redshirt season, so it's not a shock. It may have taken a little longer than some anticipated, but perhaps the light has come on for Foster. At defensive end, Kony Ealy and Brayden Burnett have both had strong springs, so it is not shocking that both are second-string. However, it was a surprise still to see Burnett lined up ahead of Michael Sam. Don't expect that battle to be over any time soon.

Linebacker: It's tough to assess this position because there are so many injuries, but Jared Parham is taking reps with the first team. His name hasn't been brought up a ton, but he's obviously impressing from day to day in practice.

Again, we want to stress that all these changes are unofficial and based on our observation of practice. They are also subject to change. The Tigers will hold a mini-scrimmage on Thursday and have six practices remaining after spring break culminating in the April 16th Black and Gold game.

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