Shortly after spring practice began, I wrote that the Missouri Tigers didn’t have a quarterback controversy. They simply had three capable signal callers, meaning that the eventual starter would have to separate himself from the other two during practice. Regardless, Mizzou would be just fine at QB this year.
Saturday’s scrimmage proved this point.
To the casual observer, it seemed like James Franklin should have been a virtual lock to retain the job. Sure, he struggled at times last year, but a lot of those problems were because he was never fully healthy. Now that Franklin is finally back at full strength, he should regain the form that made him one of the most dangerous dual threat QBs in the nation (36 total TDs). This means that if Corbin Berkstresser or Maty Mauk were going to take over the top spot on the depth chart, he would have to play extremely well.
That may have happened Saturday.
While I realize that it’s “just practice”, Mauk stole the show on offense during the scrimmage. Yes, he threw an interception, but he was virtually flawless other than that. He led the Tigers in rushing with 81 yards on just eight carries and completed 11 of 19 passes for a team-best 140 yards. More importantly, he did a great job of extending the play, which is a must against the ferocious pass rushes in the SEC.
Was his performance strong enough to overtake Franklin for the starting position?
Probably not. Franklin wasn’t exactly awful, completing 13-of-22 passes for 115 yards. He also recovered quite nicely after throwing an interception, connecting with Dorial Green-Beckham for a TD on the ensuing possession. After spending all of spring break working with QB guru George Whitfield, it’s tough to envision him not retaining his job as the starter.
However, if Mauk continues to play as well as he did Saturday, Gary Pinkel will have an interesting decision to make on (or before) August 31.
Either way, Missouri fans win.