After his 20 for 27 performance in Missouri’s first scrimmage on Saturday in which he threw for 206 yards and a touchdown, while it isn’t made official by Gary Pinkel or the coaching staff, it’s pretty clear that Tyler Gabbert has moved up from #3 on the QB depth chart to #1 with sophomore James Franklin.
That is impressive for the first week of spring ball, but this quarterback race is a marathon and not a sprint. It won’t be until well into August before we know for sure who the starting quarterback will be.
Gabbert saw equal time with the number one offensive unit and followed up his scrimmage performance with his first interception.
My one knock against Pinkel last season is, I thought there were opportunities to get James Franklin into games sooner than he did last year, especially in non-conference action. Against McNeese State, Franklin entered the game with about nine minutes to play and the Tigers with their score in the 40’s in the third quarter and he made just eight pass attempts. Two weeks later against Miami of Ohio, Franklin didn’t enter until the fourth quarter when the score was 51-6 and he attempted just two passes.
Franklin came in for Gabbert in the fourth quarter of the Colorado game after Gabbert hurt his hip and he led the Tigers on a scoring and got picked off once.
I would have liked to have seen Franklin play in those games when the Tigers were still in the upper 20’s or early 30’s against McNeese State and Miami. Perhaps Pinkel didn’t look ahead to Gabbert leaving for the NFL early, but I always feared if Gabbert went down for any length of time, the Tigers would have been kicking themselves for not getting Franklin more than 10 pass attempts in non-conference play.
Because of that limited play, it has really leveled the playing field for this year’s quarterback battle.