QB Gabbert holds the reins at Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert made a grand debut in last year's 37-9 season-opening victory over Illinois. It's a stronger, more experienced Gabbert that has teammates heavily anticipating an encore in Saturday's season opener against the Illini in St. Louis.

A year ago, Gabbert made his first start since taking over from the departed Chase Daniel and went 25 for 33 for 319 yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball 10 times for 39 yards and a score.

Missouri has come under fire recently. The Tigers have had three arrests related to driving while intoxicated charges and starting tailback Derrick Washington has been charged with sexual assault.

Coach Gary Pinkel says Gabbert is doing "an awful lot" from a leadership standpoint. He says the team needs it.

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