Tigers' starting QB battle to be decided soon

Franklin gets most first-team snaps in Saturday’s scrimmage

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri’s first scrimmage of fall practice came and went with the battle for the starting quarterback remaining unsettled.

Although there are hints the competition may be nearing its conclusion.

James Franklin took the majority of snaps with the first team offense as he continues to battle with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk for the starting job.

Mauk had limited first-team reps with most of his chances coming with the second team.

Still, head coach Gary Pinkel isn’t calling the race for the stating quarterback over.

“I discuss that with those guys,” Pinkel said when asked if Franklin had pulled away for the starting job. “When we make a decision you’ll know it.”

Franklin finished 11-of-19 for 174 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

“I thought it was all right, definitely some things I learned from,” Franklin said.

Mauk was 11-of-22 for 211 yards with an interception and a touchdown. He said he thinks the coaches are going to name the starter sometime this week.

“It’s coming up soon,” Mauk said. “Either way, we’re going to keep pushing each other and play throughout the whole year.”

Both quarterbacks had some big plays during the scrimmage but neither seemed to maintain that consistency for the entire scrimmage. Franklin had a 75-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Lucas, while Mauk added a 65-yard touchdown to Jaleel Clark.

“Consistency is what it is, especially at the quarterback position,” Mauk said. “You’re not going to win a game if you throw one 80-yard touchdown. That sticks out, but you’ve got to be consistent. You’ve got to take your team down every drive, at least get three points every time.”

Backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser, who took most of his reps with the third team, finished 10-of-21 for 119 yards.

Missouri’s receivers didn’t help out the quarterbacks during the controlled scrimmage that lasted close to three hours. The Tigers were plagued with several dropped passes. Franklin and Mauk also dealt with several high snaps.

“That’s just Missouri beating Missouri,” Pinkel said of all the dropped passes. “And that’s inexcusable because we’re talented enough not to do that. The good news is we can fix all that.”

Missouri’s special teams had a solid session as kicker Andrew Baggett made 4-of-5 field goals and punter Christian Brinser averaged more than 43 yards per punt, including three inside the 20-yard line.

Marcus Murphy led the Tigers with 57 yards on seven carries. Henry Josey had 19 yards on five carries.

Defensive highlights included E.J. Gaines making an interception in front of Dorial Green-Beckham on a ball Franklin under threw just a bit.

“That was a great play,” Pinkel said. “He went up and got it. ... It was a great play by E.J.”

Kentrell Brothers also had an interception while the defense forced five fumbles.

Missouri ran most of its plays out of its traditional shotgun-spread formation. But the Tigers worked on some short-yardage packages that put the quarterback under center with two tight ends. Missouri also tried the option play several times, with limited success. Pinkel said he would not comment on any schemes.

The only injury of the scrimmage was former Rock Bridge receiver Sheldon Gerau who sprained his ankle early in the action.

Missouri is off today before resuming practice at 7:15 a.m. Monday. The second scrimmage is set for Thursday morning.

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