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The starting Missouri Tiger quarterback will be unknown as spring camp comes to a close.
Mizzou has enjoyed a steady streak of signal callers for almost a decade. Brad Smith started every game of his career from 2002-2006 before handing the reins to Chase Daniel, who led the Tigers from 2006-2009. Blaine Gabbert continued the solidarity for the past two seasons.
This spring, James Franklin entered as the de facto starter, thanks to his experience as the No. 2 quarterback last season. Throughout spring practice, Franklin and fellow freshman Tyler Gabbert went back and forth atop the depth chart at quarterback, posting almost identical numbers during scrimmages.
Being able to run and throw the ball, Franklin has the ability to move the Tigers down the field in unique ways. This versatility will allow for more creativity on offense, crucial for a Mizzou team that ranked eighth in the Big 12 in scoring last season with 29.8 points per game. But, questions remain about Franklin’s ability to take the Tigers to the next level.
Gabbert spent the 2010 season redshirting, leading the scout team and learning the offense. Gabbert displayed an impressive competitive streak to even himself with Franklin in the race after coming into spring practice as clearly the No. 2 option.
Coach Gary Pinkel appears to be in no rush to end the speculation, quoted as saying that he will name a starter once one emerges – even if that’s days before the season opener on Sept. 3 against Miami-Ohio. Whoever Pinkel anoints as leader of the offense may not have to be a star right away. Missouri returns a stable of proven receivers, including 2010 All-American tight end Michael Egnew, as well as four offensive linemen from a unit that allowed 22 sacks last season, good for fifth in the Big 12.
Whoever ends up under center for the Tigers in 2011 remains to be seen. However, there will be plenty to talk about once practice resumes in early August.
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