On Oct. 19, four days after the worst performance of Brad Smith's career, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel approached his senior quarterback during practice. "Brad, you're not the first great quarterback to have a bad day," Pinkel told him. "And what do great quarterbacks do? They follow bad games with great games."
Smith smiled and said, "I know. I'm going to."
And so he did. In the Tigers' 41-24 victory over Nebraska last Saturday, the four-year starter produced an offensive bonanza. Scrambling repeatedly out of the spread offense Pinkel installed this year to take advantage of his mobility, Smith carried 28 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns against the Cornhuskers' defense, which entered the game No. 1 in the nation against the run. Smith also completed 21 of 36 passes for 234 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, becoming just the sixth player in Division I-A history to both run and pass for 200 or more yards in a game. His 480 total yards were a school record.
The previous week Smith had been knocked out of the game against Iowa State in the fourth quarter with a career-worst 84 yards of total offense. His replacement, highly touted true freshman Chase Daniel, rallied the Tigers from a 24-14 deficit to a 27-24 overtime victory.
Though Smith is Mizzou's all-time leader in passing yards, rushing yards, total offense and passing touchdowns, and is in select company in a number of NCAA categories, fans immediately called for Daniel to get more snaps. "I tried to not let all the talk have any effect on me," says Smith, who leads the Big 12 in rushing. "To be motivated by that type of thing doesn't help me play any better."
Any talk of a quarterback controversy has now been firmly put to rest. Daniel will continue to take snaps for one series in the second quarter, as he has done for the last three games, but when the Tigers (5-2, 3-1 in the Big 12 North) visit Colorado on Nov. 5 with the division title likely at stake, Smith will be the man in charge.