The Missouri Tigers are having an outstanding 2013 season, with a 9-1 record and a No. 9 ranking in the national polls. Missouri controls its own destiny in the Southeastern Conference‘s Eastern Division. By winning its final two contests (on the road against the Ole Miss Rebels and at home against the Texas A&M Aggies), the Tigers will make it to Atlanta and play in the SEC Championship Game for the first time.
However, it might not be that easy, especially if the announcement that head coach Gary Pinkel made on Wednesday is true. Pinkel said that when the Tigers face Ole Miss on November 23, James Franklin would return as the starting quarterback. That portion of the announcement really came as no surprise. Franklin was having an outstanding senior season before being injured last month against the Georgia Bulldogs.
The part of the story that is worrisome is when Pinkel told the SEC teleconference audience “Maty Mauk will definitely play. There’s no question about that. He’s certainly earned the right to do that. It’s a very positive situation. We’ll determine how much (he plays) when we get in that phase of game week.”
While Pinkel is certainly trying to put his team into the best position to win, playing both quarterbacks, in this situation, may not work. Especially if it’s going to be one of those pre-scripted situations where Franklin starts and plays the first two series, then Mauk plays the third. Neither of these quarterbacks has had to deal with their rhythm and timing being interfered with, and it’s probably not a good idea to start using such a process with only two (very important) games left in the regular season.
Mauk has been tremendous in relief of the injured Franklin. Just this week, Mauk was named SEC Freshman of the Week after his big game against the Kentucky Wildcats. However, Franklin has earned the right to start, and, if he chooses, finish every game he can play. And for the Missouri offense, that appears to be the best choice.
Perhaps Pinkel has a plan he’s not making public. But the plan to play two quarterbacks could derail a magical season in Columbia.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.