Chuck Carlton writes about college sports for The Dallas Morning News.
Missouri's Daniel knows all about winningFormer Southlake Carroll star is tasting success again as QB for 11th-ranked Tigers
11:41 PM CDT on Friday, October 12, 2007
The offense was clicking, and so was the scoreboard at Missouri's Faurot Field, the numbers whirling like an odometer.
Chase Daniel knew it wasn't supposed to be this easy, not against Nebraska's Blackshirts. And he knows it definitely won't be as easy today against Oklahoma. Then the realization hit him in last week's 41-6 victory – he had enjoyed this feeling before, at Southlake Carroll.
"We were doing whatever we wanted, and the coaches were calling a great game plan," Daniel said of the Tigers this week by phone.
Daniel, Missouri's quarterback, has played as huge a role as anyone in the team's 5-0 start this season, even if he refuses to take credit.
Entering the potentially defining game against the Sooners, Daniel ranks third nationally in total offense.
In a year when all the preseason coverboys have picked up a few blemishes, he has emerged as a fresh face among Heisman candidates.
People have been talking up Boston College's Matt Ryan, who has the Eagles undefeated and sports nice stats.
Well, Daniel leads an undefeated team and has even better numbers.
Ryan does have one edge. He looks like a traditional NFL quarterback prospect, a 6-5 pocket passer. Daniel is listed at 6-0, a key reason so many big-time schools passed on him despite his high school career, and he plays the position with a nontraditional, rambunctious flair.
Daniel refuses to campaign.
He says he has the "best job in America" thanks to Missouri's offensive teammates such as tight ends Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman.
The Heisman talk is more about Missouri's success, not his, Daniel said. He seems prepared for almost any question, just like he seems prepared for any defense.
"It's great recognition, but it's not even halfway through the season," said Daniel, who finished with 473 total yards against Nebraska. "I had one good game. So what? It's putting those great games and strings back-to-back."
So others are left to make the case for Daniel, like Nebraska coach Bill Callahan.
Say what you will about Callahan, but in a coaching career that's spanned high schools to the Super Bowl, if he knows anything, it's quarterbacks. Callahan likes what he sees in Daniel.
"He's still fiery, competitive and very intense in everything that he does," Callahan said before facing Daniel. "You can feel his demeanor on film. You know he's going to do everything to get a first-and-10 or a touchdown."
Callahan talked about the progression in Missouri's system, now that Daniel is established as a second-year starter.
It goes beyond that. Daniel has run the spread offense since he was an eighth-grader in Southlake. Each year, he learns something more.
"That offense is hard to defend without Chase Daniel in there," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said this week. "But if you put him in there, he's the X-factor."
The way Venables sees it, Daniel makes the system, not the other way around.
"He's a big part," Venables said. "A lot of quarterbacks wouldn't have the same kind of success, no question about it. He's tough. He's what you want leading your team."
LETTING IT FLY
|How Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel has produced in his three games against teams from BCS power conferences in 2007:|
Southern California may not lose as much as people think with Mark Sanchez replacing the injured John David Booty. Sanchez was a big-time high school recruit who was envisioned as the next Matt Leinart. ... The vultures aren't circling for Arkansas coach Houston Nutt but aircraft are. During last week's win over Chattanooga, a plane circled the stadium carried a banner reading: "There's Nuttin' Like Being 0-2 in the SEC." ... A nice story is developing at Indiana. Coach Bill Lynch, who took over when Terry Hoeppner died from complications caused by a brain tumor, has the team 5-1 and maybe headed for its first bowl since the 1993 Independence Bowl.
No. 11 Missouri (5-0) at No. 6 Oklahoma (4-1), 5:30 p.m. today (FSNSW; KKGM-AM 1630)
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