There was a time in the University of Missouri Football when Chase Daniel was the best thing going for the program.
Daniel still is.
Or is he? Watching the game against the Kansas Jayhawks this past weekend I couldn't help but ask the question, where have you gone Chase Daniel?
Daniel used to be the superhero on the Tigers. When things were bad, Chase would fix it. In his debut against Iowa State, Daniel led the Tigers down the field numerous times leading to a Tiger victory.
After Brad Smith left the program, Daniel continued to be the hero. Last season, he went from a very good college quarterback to a Heisman candidate. Daniel deserved all of the credit then, so why not some of the blame now?
I know reading this; you may be up in arms. You may be thinking "Steve, Chase Daniel made this program what it is, how can you possibly blame him for anything?"
Easy. Against Oklahoma State, in a game that would have brought the Tigers a certain #1 ranking Daniel went away. He couldn't find his rhythm all night. He wore a different number and looked like a different player. Everyone found out the highly touted defense the Tigers were supposed to have was less than great and in a game winning drive, where Heisman candidates are supposed to lead you to victory, Daniel threw an interception.
It doesn't stop there. Against Texas the next week, Daniel seemed to have his eyes in the stars and was seen all over ESPN on College Gameday, one of his many appearances on the show this year. After putting the Oklahoma State loss the previous week on his shoulders, he went to his home state and his Tigers got beaten badly. You may ask, "So how is this Daniels fault"?
I'll explain. Daniel seemed indifferent from the first snap and didn't have the precision or the intensity the Longhorns players brought to the game. It appeared like Daniel was a prima donna out there, where the usual perception of Daniel is a bulldog. Did you watch the cameras after the game? Chase Daniel didn't want to go back to the locker room, he roamed around the field looking for any camera he could find and looked as happy as the victorious Longhorn players.
This is supposed to be the Tiger leader? Isn't a leader supposed to be so beaten up and humble after a bad loss that they go back to the locker room and brood about it? Aren't they supposed to be so fired up and adamant swearing to anyone who will listen "this won't happen again?"
I'm not big on stats so much as I am the eyeball test. Ever since the Texas loss it seems to me that Daniel has been going through the motions. He shows up, but doesn't have the same fire I see in Sam Bradford, Graham Harrell or Colt McCoy. There is this sense of entitlement about Daniel. If you go online and look, I'm sure you'll find statistics that are ok, not great, against the Big 12 opponents he faced this season.
All of the stuff that happened until last weekend, good and bad, led up to the unthinkable, a loss against Kansas.
I will be the first to admit, this loss was not all of Chase Daniels fault, but doesn't he get some blame here? When your passing offense (top 5 in the country) goes an entire quarter and doesn't record a completion or gain a yard, isn't that partly the quarterbacks fault?
I know what your thinking "But Steve, he led his team down the field to win the game TWICE at the end! And on a clear day, perhaps a third time if the field goal doesn't get blocked! What more can you ask for? It's the defense that couldn't stop Kansas!"
True. But when you put your defense on the field for over 13 minutes to start the game, and all they allow is a field goal and touchdown, two things come to mind; the defense will get tired near the end of the game and the Jayhawks have been given a lot of opportunity to find ways to attack them.
Chase Daniel dug his defense and team into a hole to begin the game, there's no other way around it. Just as he did against Oklahoma State and Texas when the hole was too deep to get out of. In all these instances, Daniel has as much to blame as anyone and has led me to ask: Chase, can you at least show up against Oklahoma?
If Daniel cannot, the question is not whether or not the Tigers will lose to the Sooners; the question is by how much will they lose against them.
Steve Sliker is a journalism student at the University of Missouri at Columbia.