ShowMeMizzou.com takes a post-spring look at Missouri’s QB position.
During the spring, there was an open competition at the QB position. At the beginning of the spring, each of the top three QBs rotated evenly with each of the top three offensive units. Senior James Franklin, sophomore Corbin Berkstresser, and red-shirt freshman Maty Mauk each took an equal number of snaps with each of the top three offenses.
Franklin had played the most consistently, and by about midway through the spring, he had separated himself from the other two QBs. Mauk had moved ahead of Berkstresser, and while the three-man rotation continued, the snaps weren’t being as evenly divided between the top three offensive units.
Following the completion of spring football, Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel addressed the status of the QB competition.
“James (Franklin) is going to be (number) one,” said Coach Pinkel, who pointed out that the QB competition would continue into fall camp, but that the snaps would no longer be equally divided among Missouri’s top three QBs. “Maty Mauk’s two. And Corbin’s going to be three……………………………………. It’s still going to be competitive.”
During the spring, the two early-arriving true freshmen QBs, Trent Hosick and Eddie Printz, were held out of the competition for the top three spots, and although their reps were limited in number, they both performed very well throughout the spring. In fact, the two true freshmen QBs performed so well this spring that they may have forced the staff to consider including them in the competition this fall.
From the beginning of spring football, it was clear to this observer that James Franklin was the most consistent QB, and the most accurate passer, from among Missouri’s three competing triggermen.
Taken as a whole, from a statistical perspective, combining the statistics from Missouri’s three scrimmages, the QB position did not put up good numbers this spring. I’m not sure how much that is worth in evaluating the position as a whole, or even in evaluating the individual QBs. Maybe it does provide some objectivity to add to my observations. But for what it’s worth, I will include each QBs scrimmage totals. One interesting statistic is that all five Missouri QBs combined during the three scrimmages to average just 5.3 yards/pass attempt. Part of that is attributable to some low completion percentages, but it also appears to be indicative that in Missouri’s three scrimmages this spring, the QBs completed a lot of short passes. But, I wouldn’t make too much of that.
Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson has indicated that it is his objective for Missouri to complement their running game by throwing the football down the field. I think that fall camp may give us a little bit better idea of what we may actually see from Missouri’s offense under Coach Henson.
James Franklin, the incumbent two-year starter, entered spring atop the depth chart, and he emerges from the spring having strengthened his hold on the starting job. I thought that a healthy Franklin looked better throwing the football this spring than I’ve ever seen him. He threw the ball more accurately than he has in the past, which is saying quite a bit, since Franklin enters his senior season second on Missouri’s career list, trailing only Chase Daniel, in completion percentage (62.2%), and in passer efficiency rating (134.03).
“I think James Franklin had a real good spring, probably the best one he’s had since he’s been here,” concluded Coach Pinkel.
In the three scrimmages, Franklin was a combined 37-61-2 for 365 yards and 2 TDs. That’s a 61% completion percentage, for an average of 6.0 yards/pass attempt, and a passer efficiency rating of 115.2.
Following Missouri’s first major scrimmage of the spring, Maty Mauk moved ahead of Corbin Berkstresser on the Depth Chart. In that first scrimmage, Mauk ran around like his hair was on fire, and he made plays outside of the pocket, creating passing lanes, as well as running for sizable gains. In that scrimmage, Mauk displayed his ability to improvise. That day, he limited his mistakes.
In the two scrimmages that followed, it was clear that Mauk was responding to the coaching that he was receiving, as he did a better job of sticking with the designed plays and staying in the pocket. He didn’t look comfortable in the pocket, and he wasn’t very effective throwing the football from the pocket.
In the three scrimmages, Mauk was a combined 29-61-4 for 355 yards and 2 TDs, That’s a 48% completion percentage, for an average of 5.8 yards/pass attempt, and a passer efficiency rating of 94.1.
Mauk can be sensational when he’s scrambling and improvising. He has very good escapability, and he can turn coverage sacks into rushing first downs. At present, I think he’s more effective as a passer outside of the pocket, because he uses his scrambling ability to create open passing lanes, where he doesn’t have to throw the football over the defense. But, he’s still too quick to abandon the designed play.
Mauk’s improvisational ability, and his ability to make plays outside of the pocket, are his greatest assets. At the same time, his reliance on getting outside of the pocket, and improvising, to make plays, limits him. Once he develops the ability to stay in the pocket, make the reads, and execute the designed plays, then he’ll have a more solid foundation from which to better utilize his improvisational skills. I think that’s the vision that Coach Pinkel has for Mauk, and I think Mauk made significant progress this spring in his development.
“Overall, (Maty Mauk) had a really good spring,” concluded Coach Pinkel. “This experience will be good for him, and he’ll learn from it.”
Coming into the spring, I wrote that Corbin Berkstresser was going to have to improve upon his 50% completion percentage from last season. Well, he didn’t. In the three scrimmages, Berkstresser was a combined 30-67-2 for 275 yards and 1 TD. That’s a 45% completion percentage, for an average of 4.1 yards/pass attempt, and a passer efficiency rating of 78.2.
Berkstresser probably has the strongest throwing arm of all of Missouri’s QBs, and I’d say that most of the best throws of the spring belonged to him. But, he was also responsible for more than his share of the spring’s worst throws. Consistency is the key for the sophomore. At spring’s end, and moving forward, Berkstresser remains in the middle of the QB competition. Like the other four scholarship QBs on Missouri’s roster, Berkstresser possesses the ability to develop into a quality starting QB at this level.
The early arrival of the two true freshmen QBs, Hosick and Printz, gives Coach Pinkel’s Missouri Tigers unprecedented quality depth at the position.
I thought that from the beginning to the end of the spring, Hosick improved the most of any of Missouri’s QBs. In the three scrimmages, Hosick was a combined 14-21-0 for 115 yards. That’s a 67% completion percentage, for an average of 5.5 yards/pass attempt, and a passer efficiency rating of 112.7.
Unlike the other three competing QBs, Hosick and Printz did their work with and against the number four, and number three, offenses and defenses.
Hosick settled any questions about his ability to throw the football. He also showed himself to be a quick study, as he continually improved throughout the spring in his ability to make reads and deliver the football accurately, on time, and to the correct receiver.
Not to be outdone, Printz was at least as proficient. In the three spring scrimmages, Printz was a combined 15-20-0 for 116 yards and 1 TD. That’s a 75% completion percentage, for an average of 5.8 yards/pass attempt, and a passer efficiency rating of 140.2.
Like Hosick, Printz showed a propensity for making the correct reads and getting the ball to the open man. He stands tall in the pocket, throws a pretty pass, and he’s usually very accurate.
My takeaway from the spring is that Franklin is Missouri’s best QB, and unless one of the other guys improves a lot, Franklin will be the starter this fall. I also think that this fall, one, or both, of the true freshmen could very well move ahead of Berkstresser, or Mauk, or both.
In addition to an abundance of quality scholarship QB prospects, Missouri also has a trio of quality walk-ons at the QB position, including Eric Laurent, Alex Demczak, and Colby Carpenter. Laurent is the most promising of the walk-on QBs, but he was sidelined virtually all spring with a wrist injury.
1 James Franklin 6'2" 230 (S)
7 Maty Mauk 6'1" 200 (RSF)
13 Corbin Berkstresser 6'3" 225 (So) 11 Trent Hosick 6’2” 230 (F)
9 Eddie Printz 6’3” 210 (F)
16 Eric Laurent 6’2’ 205 (RSF)
17 Alex Demczak 6’0” 200 (J)
12 Colby Carpenter 6’2’ 220 (F)