April 30, 2013

Spring rewind: Missouri

Entering his second season in the Southeastern Conference, Gary Pinkel remains resolute that his Tigers were not caught off guard in year one.

"Nothing about this league surprised us," Pinkel said. "It was exactly what we thought it would be."

That first tour through the SEC resulted in a 5-7 record, including 2-6 in league play. After that, Missouri entered spring with absolutely everything wide open.

First and foremost, that meant the quarterback position. James Franklin started as a sophomore and put together a 3,800-yard, 36-touchdown season. But after a shoulder injury last spring, Franklin could never stay healthy in the Tigers' first SEC season and produced only 1,684 yards and ten touchdowns, including none as a junior. The result is that Franklin entered the spring having to fight for his job.

Coming out of spring ball, Franklin is atop the depth chart with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk second and Corbin Berkstresser third. Franklin didn't light the world on fire in the spring, but he took care of the ball. Both Mauk and Berkstresser turned the ball over twice in Mizzou's Black and Gold game, while Franklin was mistake free.

"I think it's really important. Protecting the ball's good," Franklin said. "Even if you don't move the ball, being able to keep it in possession and punt it away on fourth down rather than an interception is always better."

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