College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Missouri , who begin spring practice today, March 8.
Spring practice question:Who will replace Blaine Gabbert in Columbia?
The last four seasons have been good to Missouri, as the Tigers have won 40 games over that span, including a 10-3 mark in 2010 that saw the Tigers knock off then #1 Oklahoma in October. Now, with Nebraska and Colorado gone, Missouri climbs the pecking order in the Big 12, and has to be considered a favorite along with Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.
Of course, before Mizzou can attempt to win the conference this season, they have another more basic task to figure out this spring. Who is going to replace Blaine Gabbert?
Gabbert was a big reason why the Tigers were successful the last two seasons, and now he's taken the 40 touchdowns he threw in his years as a starter to the NFL.
So while Gary Pinkel will have to find replacements for three missing starters in his secondary, a new quarterback will probably garner most of his attention the next few weeks. James Franklin (pictured), who will be a sophomore in 2011, has the most experience and will begin the spring atop the depth chart.
Franklin appeared in nine games for Missouri last season, but did so mostly out of the Wildcat formation as a runner, not a passer. Franklin threw 14 passes for the Tigers last season, and completed 11 of them, but the last pass he threw came in a 26-0 victory over Colorado on October 9. So all those passes came in blowouts against bad teams, which means we can't really use them as an indicator as to how efficient a passer Franklin can really be.
Franklin was used exclusively as a running quarterback following the Colorado game and through conference play, finishing the season with 116 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries.
While Franklin starts the spring on top of the depth chart, he's going to have to work to stay there. While having a quarterback that can run out of the spread is a bonus, you aren't going to win consistently in the Big 12 without a strong passing attack. Just look at what happened to Nebraska last season anytime Taylor Martinez was forced to throw the ball.
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Which is where Franklin's competition may wind up overtaking him.
Ashton Glaser and Tyler Gabbert, yes, Blaine's younger brother, should provide strong competition for Franklin, particularly Gabbert.
Gabbert redshirted in 2010, but impressed coaches during bowl practices last December. He's smaller than Franklin is, but like his older brother, he has a strong arm and can hurt defenses with his legs.
The true darkhorse in all of this will be incoming freshman Corbin Berkstresser. Berkstresser is more of a pro-style quarterback, with a big arm and a big body to go with it. At 6'3 and 224 pounds, it's possible that Berkstresser can come in this spring and take the job with his arm. Obviously, Berkstresser will start as the fourth option, but since this battle isn't expected to be over before the fall, that will give him time to learn the offense and impress his coaches.
All of which means that the competition this spring amongst Missouri quarterbacks won't just be one of the most important in the Big 12 this spring, but also one of the most interesting.
Gary Pinkel has sent his last two quarterbacks to the NFL. Will he find his third?