The quarterback position was a very important part of recently successful Missouri Tigers football teams. Mizzou is the only program in the nation with its last three starting quarterbacks currently playing in the NFL. Brad Smith started four years between 2002-2005 and is now a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. Chase Daniel started for three seasons after Smith and is currently the backup in New Orleans. Two-year starter Blaine Gabbert followed Daniel and was drafted tenth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by Jacksonville. Tiger fans have been spoiled when it comes to quarterback. Because of recent success, there are plenty of observers and critics, regardless of whoever is the Mizzou signal caller.
James Franklin: Going into the season, Franklin was considered one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the country. Unfortunately, his season will be remembered for three injuries and not taking painkillers. The headlines started in spring practice when James Franklin injured his shoulder and had surgery in April. Going into the season, Franklin was supposedly fine and ready to play. He showed no signs of trouble in th opener against Southeastern Louisiana, but Franklin’s shoulder didn’t look right against Georgia in week 2. Franklin missed week 3 against Arizona State and fans later found out that Franklin refused to take painkillers to help him play through a injury. The turbulent September ended for Franklin as he started in a loss at South Carolina and led the Tigers to a victory at Central Florida.
In October, I wrote that the new month could provide Franklin with a fresh start because his shoulder was healthy. Franklin looked confident on the first two drives of October against Vanderbilt, but he then sustained a sprained MCL that took the entire month fully heal. Franklin made a surprise relief appearance against Kentucky at the end of the month but was limited to short passes to preserve the Tigers first SEC victory.
Franklin was healthy for November, but it was another roller coaster month for Franklin. He started the month with a four interception game against Florida, but bounced back to defeat Tennessee in four overtimes. Franklin threw touchdowns at the 1:38, 1:51, 2:18 and 2:26 marks of this video:
With only one win needed for bowl eligibility, Franklin started very well on Senior Day against Syracuse. In the fourth quarter, Franklin was tackled and left the game with a concussion. The Tigers ended up losing the game, and the concussion was severe enough to keep Franklin out of the finale at Texas A&M. The junior finished the year with 1,562 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 59.4 completion percentage. A season after 15 rushing touchdown in 2011, Franklin didn’t get in the end zone of the ground and only averaged 1.4 yards per rush on 88 attempts.
Corbin Berkstresser: The redshirt freshman gained valuable experience as he filled in when Franklin was hurt. He played in ten games and started against Arizona State, Alabama, Kentucky and Texas A&M. Berkstresser threw for 1,059 yards, five passing touchdowns and seven interceptions. Berkstresser added three touchdowns rushing. The knock in his game is his accuracy and his completion percentage was 49.7 percent this season. Berkstresser played his best when offensive coordinator Dave Yost had him throw short, conservative passes. If Berkstresser forced the ball down field, he was ineffective.
Final Grade: C- The injuries are the main culprit. Franklin showed signs of brilliance when healthy, but he isn’t as consistent as Smith, Daniel and Gabbert. Berkstresser improved at the end of the season.
Next Season Outlook: Franklin and Berkstresser will be back. A healthy Franklin with a great running back like Henry Josey can set the stage for a great final season. Berkstresser might see competition to be second string quarterback from Maty Mauk. The Ohio native redshirted this year but was seen on the two-deep depth chart at times. Mauk set high school records and fans are already looking forward to the opportunity when he plays. Mizzou has verbal commitments from two quarterback prospects in the Class of 2013 who have done well in their senior years of high school. Dual-threat quarterback Trent Hosick won High School Heisman in Missouri. Pro-style quarterback Eddie Printz came close to setting state records in Georgia and led his school to a 10-0 regular season record. Hosick and Printz will likely take a redshirt in 2013, but both figure to be in future mix.