Daniel Driving Missouri On BCS Run
Tigers QB has made a name for himself with Mizzou on the verge of a national title
Nov. 30, 2007
By Adam Caparell
Adam is CSTV.com's football editor and national football writer.
It still bothers Chase Daniel when people spell his name wrong.
"It gets pretty annoying at times," Daniel said. "People say, `Who's this Chase Daniels?' I'm like, `I don't know how he is.'"
Fortunately for Daniel, the days of sportswriters, media members and casual college football fans unintentionally butchering his last name seem to be in the past.
And chances are, even your casual sports fan knows who the 6-foot quarterback is, now that he has Missouri poised to reach the BCS Championship game and has also has vaulted himself into a serious Heisman Trophy contender with a scintillating second half of the season.
That second half truly began after the Tigers' sixth game of the season, in which they suffered a hard-fought 10-point loss to then-No. 6 Oklahoma in
"We had a lead going into fourth quarter, we made some mistakes, they created some mistakes, so that's how you look at it,"
It's that experience, that near miss on the road, that Daniel and the Tigers are drawing upon as they get ready to face
But thanks in large part to
In the six games since the Oct. 13 loss to
To avoid a fatal second loss, the Tigers have a very tough task at hand with the Sooners. Widely regarded as one of the most well-rounded teams in the country,
"They're definitely the best team we've faced, offensively defensively and special teams-wise," Daniel said. "We have our work cut out for us."
Convention would say that playing a team for the second time in one season would make things a little bit easier in the rematch. Daniel will tell you otherwise.
"It's very tough to play the same football team twice in the same year, no matter who it is," Daniel said. "You've obviously done everything you can for the first game to prepare as well as you can and then six or seven games later you play them again."
For all the different defensive looks the Sooners will throw at Daniel and the Missouri offense, the Tigers still have to contend with Oklahoma's considerable speed and athleticism that no other unit in the Big 12 can rival.
"They're an unbelievable defense and they're flying to the ball and getting turnovers," Daniel said.
But there is no quarterback in the country playing better than Daniel this side of Tim Tebow. And just like Tebow, Daniel's a Heisman contender whose campaign has really ramped up the past several weeks.
"It's happened pretty fast," Daniel said. "I think everyone around here has done a great job promoting me for that award. For the most part it's come very, very fast. But we've been able to take it all in stride."
The individual awards and attention are not exactly Daniel's thing. A lot of praise has been heaped on him rather suddenly and he'd prefer to see the team get the bulk of it.
"I'm all about my teammates, I play for them," Daniel said. "All these awards are great and all this publicity about this team is great because for the most part, it's about these 80 people in that locker room that grind every day."
You'd expect to see a talent like Daniel at a more prominent football school, but how he ended up at
He wanted to feel comfortable with the football program and the coaching staff, but he also wanted to go to a school where he felt comfortable with their business program. Daniel got a chance to meet the dean of the business school, who made him feel right at home. Then on his way back from the unofficial visit to
Now Daniel gets to return home to
"Going back to
The bigger deal, of course, would be winning Saturday. The Tigers haven't won a conference championship since 1969 and have never won a national championship. Can Daniel continue the Tigers' most unexpected run?
"To cap it off with a title would be unbelievable. It'd be the dream season and hopefully with a win we'd be headed down to
If that happens, Daniel could be headed to household name status. And at that point there'd be no excuse left for spelling his name wrong.