Missouri Tiger Quarterbacks Spring 2011
The key word regarding the QB position this spring is competition. In fact, the competition for the starting QB position has already begun.
During off-season workouts, each of sophomore James Franklin 6'2" 228, sophomore Ashton Glaser 6'0" 220, and RSF Tyler Gabbert 6'0" 197, have been working hard to ready themselves for spring practice. Each player is intent upon establishing himself as the Tigers' primary signal caller, as we head into the 2011 season.
Spring ball will begin with Franklin listed as the number one QB. But, according to Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach David Yost, that's just the beginning.
"Those two guys (Glaser and Tyler Gabbert)," said Coach Yost. "I think they're both champing at the bit for spring football to start, so they can get out there and compete with James (Franklin)."
At the start of spring ball, it is expected that Glaser will be listed ahead of Gabbert on the depth chart. But in practice, I think we'll see a situation where perhaps all three of Missouri's young QBs will see action with the first and second units, and will, from a practical stand point, at least at the beginning of the spring, function as a trio of starter candidates.
That's certainly one of the things, early on, that I'll be paying attention to when I view this competition. How much time is each of the three candidates spending with the first, or second, unit? At some point, maybe not even during spring ball, the staff will want to see the projected starting QB getting the majority of the work with the first unit, in an effort to develop the timing and cohesiveness that they'll want their first team offense to have come September.
But, before that, there's the integrity of the competition, which is one of the hallmarks of the Gary Pinkel tenure at Missouri. And, because of that, all three QBs will be in there, at least at the beginning of the spring.
Only one of the three QBs have ever played a down of college football. In 2010, James Franklin played in 10 games, and rushed the football 23 times, for 116 yards (5 yards/carry), and 2 TDs. Franklin posted a passer efficiency rating of 151.46, on a limited number of pass attempts, and completed 11 of 14 pass attempts (78.6%), for 106 yards (9.6 yards/completion), and 1 TD. He also threw 1 interception. Franklin talked about getting to play his first year at Missouri.
"It's always good to get (game) reps," said Franklin. "Next year, it won't be like it's new to me. Having had this experience will really help. It won't be like I'm out there for the first time. I'm really thankful to have gotten a few reps in here (last) season."
Franklin emphasized that nearly the entire offense will be made up of returning players, and that many of them are seniors. He indicated that he plans to rely on their experience. And, he talked about his development as a QB.
"I was blessed to be able to come in early, with a big opportunity," said Franklin. "Coming in early really helped me develop, because I got to know the system better. It's just like with anything. The more you do it, the beter you get. It almost becomes second nature. I'm really thankful that I got the opportunity, and got the head start, because it feels really good whenever I'm in there, with the system. It's not as new as it was before.................... The biggest part I need to work on is reading the defense. Making the throws can be easy, but if there's a defender there, then it's not so easy. So, the biggest thing that I neeed to work on is just reading the coverages, and the defense."
One of Franklin's strengths is that he does a good job of running the zone read option, which is one of the staples of Missouri's ground attack, and Franklin is also well ahead of the others in terms of being prepared to handle the blitz. Coach Yost talked about Franklin's development.
"(Franklin) got all of the (second team) reps (last season)," said Coach Yost. "He got better and better throughout the year, understanding the offense. The things that we were constantly working on with him, and I think he made a big commitment to doing this, is seeing the coverage, understanding the coverage, and then working our plays within the coverage."
"James (Franklin) saw tons of blitz last season," continued Coach Yost. "Because that's what we work on, first and foremost, every week....................... That's where James (Franklin) will definitely be ahead, because he's seen blitz. He's changed protections. He's slid the line. He's gotten us in the right routes, and those type of things."
Coach Yost said that he constantly challenged Franklin with multiple variables, in practice last fall, to put more pressure on him.
"Those (multiple variables) are the ones I tried to put on (Franklin) more in practice," explained Coach Yost. "Where he had to do a lot of pre-snap analysis; snap, read, and then get himself to the right things. Because I know that he can go back, and go through one, two, three."
Each of Glaser and Gabbert have demonstrated steady progression of development at the QB position since their arrival at Missouri. Both have continued to work on, and improve upon, fundamentals, such as footwork, to improve their accuracy, and both have continued to progress in their understanding of the offense, and in reading coverages.
Coach Yost indicated that he feels comfortable with the quality of the QBs that Missouri has on its roster.
"I think all three of those guys are really progressing to the point where it's going to be great competition," said Coach Yost. "It's an open competition, and the best guy is going to play for us. (Our QB depth)
is getting better all of the time. Our (QB) depth is better than what it was, when Chase Daniel left."
"The reason we recruited them is that we think they can be high level players," explained Coach Yost. "None of that has changed. I think we have really, really good talent there. It will be a good competition."
It will be a competition that will be of great interest, as well as just watching the development of these three young QBs.
ShowMeMizzou.com Spring Outlook at Quarterback:
While it is being said that the position is open,the starting job is James Franklin's to lose this spring practice. His experience and performance during limited play in the regular season, which followed him earning the back-up role to starter Blaine Gabbert in the fall camp gives him a leg up on the other talented quarterbacks in camp.
Franklin is a smooth operator and field general who understands the game well and has shown good and quick decision making ability to this point. He is also a serious dual threat at the position which makes him more difficult for opposing defenses to defend.
While both Tyler Gabbert and Ashton Glaser are capable of making a push to become the starting quarterback, I am of the opinion that the real battle will be for who will be number two.
Expect all three to get an equal opportunity with the first and second teams in the beginning , with Gabbert and Glaser possibly getting more time to showcase their abilities, especially since the staff has a better idea of what they have with Franklin.
What both Gabbert and Glaser need to do is show better decision making. I expect both to continue to show improvement, as they did during bowl practice, and to benefit from playing with more talent during practice.
Both have shown flashes at times, and Tyler Gabbert should impress with his passing ability and strong arm this spring. He seems geared to compete hard for the starting job.
End of spring depth chart prediction: 1. Franklin. 2. Gabbert. 3. Glaser.