Two Tigers Are Clawing Their Way to the Top QB Spot
COLUMBIA - Two Tigers are battling it out to be the starting quarterback this fall. Surrounded by an experienced offense, they explain how they plan to step up to the plate.
For the first time in years at Missouri, there is a serious battle at the quarterback position.
Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert are three of the most successful QB's in Tiger history.
But now the Tigers need a successor, and just like their passes, it's up in the air.
The last time Tyler Gabbert started a game, it was at Parkway West.
James Franklin's last start came at Lake Dallas High School.
Now they share a common goal: to think they are the number one QB - before they even are.
"You have to see yourself like that. If you're not, you're not playing the position. As a quarterback, you have to be confident and be a leader. That's part of playing the position," Tyler Gabbert said.
"Just because I'm in the number one spot doesn't mean it's mine. I think it's good because we get to compete for it to see who really deserves it. Not just from last year's depth chart," Franklin said.
The Tigers don't have one number one QB on depth chart. They have co-aces.
"Whenever it came out that we're even, it wasn't 'oh man', I'm doing something wrong. It was moreso I need to step up my game," Franklin said.
The quarterbacks are a little green, but the rest of the offense isn't. Every starter returns besides the QB and center.
"The one thing we're trying to do as an entire offense with a lot of people coming back, we're just trying to make it as comfortable as possible for them you know. Just giving a lot positive encouragement is going to be key with these guys," senior running back De'Vion Moore said.
The QB's are also getting help from the past. They both talk to former Tiger Blaine Gabbert for advice.
"Mostly to forget about it. You have that five second rule. Like, I threw an interception. I have to let that go. I threw a touchdown pass, have to let that go," Tyler Gabbert said.
"I don't text him and like ask him questions and stuff, but when he's here I take advantage because he ran this offense really well and he knew what was going on so I ask him questions," Franklin said.
Coach Gary Pinkel knows quarterbacks. He coached them as an assistant at Washington.
"I have an awareness always of how the quarterbacks are playing or how they're doing. I'm aware of everything they do good and everything they do poorly," Pinkel said.
The campaign to win the job starts now, but the final election isn't until the fall.
"I just know I'm going to compete and work hard for my teammates. I know that they're working hard for what they do. If they do something good, I don't want to do something bad to make it go to waste like it didn't even matter," Franklin said.
"I think I make all the throws. Obviously developing in terms of mental aspects of the game. Reading defenses and checking down to the backs, but I'm a great leader out there. I can make all the throws," Gabbert said.
Franklin completed 11-of-14 passes in spot duty last season. He accounted for three touchdowns.
Tyler Gabbert redshirted last year.
Mizzou took this past week off for spring break and is back on practice field on Tuesday.
The Missouri Black and Gold spring game is Saturday, April 16.