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By Continuing To Play Mauk, Missouri’s Pinkel Playing With Fire

mauk-franklin-pregameEarlier this week it was made clear that James Franklin — now back from injury — will return to Missouri’s starting lineup when the Tigers travel to Ole Miss in two weeks.  As we wrote Tuesday, backup Maty Mauk did a fine job in leading Mizzou to a 3-1 record as starter, but Franklin is the better passer and the offense is more effective with him in the game.

The right move, then, is to go back to Franklin as starter.  End of story.

Only it isn’t the end of the story.  Gary Pinkel says that Mauk will continue to play in some form or fashion:

 

“Maty will definitely play.  There’s no question about that.  He’s certainly earned the right to do that.  It’s a very positive situation.  We’ll determine how much (he plays) when we get in that phase of game week…

James was having as good a year as any quarterback in the country when he got hurt four games ago.  Maty’s done a lot of good things.  For us, bringing James back, we were very up front to everybody, including everybody on our team on how we’re going to handle that.”

 

What Pinkel sees as “a very positive situation” we see as T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Already there are some in the Mizzou fanbase who want to see Mauk hold onto the starting job (despite all of the stats pointing in the other direction).  You can be sure that the first time Franklin throws an incompletion, some Tiger fans will roar for Mauk.  God help him when he tosses a pick or leads two so-so drives back-to-back.

But that’s just the fans in the stands.  By continuing to give Mauk action — depending on what kind of action he’s talking about — Pinkel is inviting players on the team to start taking sides.  That.  Is.  Not.  Smart.

Rotating quarterbacks is fine and good in one case only: You have two quarterbacks with different styles and one of them is used as a change-of-pace guy.  Typically, that means your passer leaves for a series in each half and your runner comes in.  Other than that, flip-flopping QBs is not the path to success.  And in case you haven’t noticed, Franklin and Mauk play very similar styles.

Of Franklin’s total plays (195 passes) and (65 keepers), exactly 75% of the time he’s thrown the football.  Mauk’s percentage (120 passes, 36 passes) is 76.9% pass.  If you think those numbers are nearly identical, check these out: Franklin averages 4.46 yards per carry when he does run it.  Mauk averages 4.44.

Aside from the fact that Franklin is the more accurate passer — and who cares about a little thing like that? — the two are basically the same type player with the same type rushing skills.  So why flip-flop them?

Perhaps no coach in recent history has spun the quarterback carousel more than Steve Spurrier.  And for all his success, his only national championship came when Danny Wuerffel was his clear-cut starter.  That is not a coincidence.

Missouri faces two huge games against Mississippi and Texas A&M en route to the SEC Championship Game.  If the Tigers reach Atlanta, a BCS championship will be in view.  Now is not the time to create divisions on the team, to prevent Franklin from finding a rhythm, or to give him reason to start looking over his shoulder.

Pinkel is wise to go back to Franklin.  He would be more wise to stick with him through thick and thin.  Playing Mauk could create a lot more troubles than it’s worth.

 

 


10 comments
Bootheel
Bootheel

John, it is possible you may be misreading this move a little, and that is primarily because Mizzou and Gary Pinkle are both new reads for you.  Pinkle ran Franklin in on select plays his Freshman year when Blaine Gabbert was QB.  They were usually keepers and draws.  Franklin was quicker than Gabbert out of the backfield.  It worked pretty well as I recall and for this two game stretch Gary Pinkle and Josh Henson may be thinking about a little trickery in that regard.  I think they saw Mauk do something that they liked and want to incorporate in the mix every now and then.  I believe Gary Pinkle is very loyal to Franklin and I don't see this as an indication of any type of rotation.

Mike007
Mike007

It's real simple.  Franklin has great athleticism; run, pass, etc....but he is soft and  can't consistently take a hit.  Franklin is injury prone, and you can't depend on him.  Let Mauk quarterback this team.

bpa_kc
bpa_kc

They key is whether or not James Franklin coming off shoulder injury is a better qb than a healthy Mauk.  This makes me think the coaching staff has their doubts... albeit it could just be gamesmanship.  Considering how JF looked last year coming off injury, I am also concerned and at least hope they have Mauk fully prepared to step in if needed.

mizzoujack1
mizzoujack1

How much of this is gamesmanship on the part of Pinkel, and how much of this is actual truth?  Why reveal exactly what you are doing going into a tough and important game down in Oxford?  Additionally, you can do stat comparisons all you want but Franklin primarily played against sisters of the poor to get his numbers.  Not saying he isn't physically a better option at QB, I just wouldn't read too much into all of that at this point.  I personally prefer continuity, stick with Mauk, bring Franklin in if things go south. 

pdaddyslammy
pdaddyslammy

I agree with you more often than not...  but you are terribly wrong here.  As they say - nothing to see here folks, move along.  Maty was getting snaps from the beginning of the year, well before James Franklin injury.  No reason to stop that just because James is back and at No 1.  Has nothing to do with confidence in JF - he's the man - PERIOD.  Has everything to do with bringing a redshirt Freshman QB along in your system, it's how Pinkel and Mizzou operate.  That's one of the ways you can take 2 & 3 star players and compete with the big boys.  Most everyone redshirts, and then is brought along slowly behind a seasoned veteran / mentor.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@pdaddyslammy 

If they continue to give Mauk mop-up duty -- as they did early in the season -- that's fine.  If they start inserting him into games earlier, there's no point in it.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

mitchs3
mitchs3

@John at MrSEC @pdaddyslammy Except I don't think Mauk was just getting mop up duty early in the season.  I think they had a scripted series built in for him, usually in the 2nd Qtr if I recall correctly. 

If they do this in a way that has Franklin looking over his shoulder, then I agree it is a bad move.  If they manage it correctly, then its biggest benefit is making the other team game plan for both QBs.  As you say, they're pretty similar so that may not be a huge benefit, but if it keeps the opponent from spending prep time on something else, that's a good thing.  Again, they just have to manage this carefully; Pinkel has said from Day 1 that Franklin would get the starting job back once he was healthy. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@UtahReb @John at MrSEC 

Yes, a typo.  Forgive me.  If you've read this site regularly and you'd know damn well I said Missouri would be in the East before the SEC did it. 

Every few weeks I start trying to respond to people.  Then I realize most people who leave comments are jerks...  and there's no point in my responding.

I'm not sure how one short article stating the POSSIBILITY of trouble is "making too big a deal out of this."    Do people not want opinions here?  Do they only want to hear that everything a school does is a wise move guaranteed to bring victory?

John

UtahReb
UtahReb

@John at MrSEC  wrote "If they're the same style of quarterback -- only Franklin's better -- why bring Mauk in.  And if it's to get him experience for next year, sorry, I think a West Division title is more important ..."

I was not aware that Missouri was in the SEC West. When did that move take place?

Obviously, I want Ole Miss to win, but you are making too big of a deal out of this. Pinkel is not a dummy, and he will play his quarterbacks in a manner in which he feels gives his team the best chance to win. Also, I am pretty sure he knows in which division Mizzou plays.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@mitchs3 @John at MrSEC @pdaddyslammy 

I went back through every drive Missouri's run against BCS foes yesterday and I didn't see many with Mauk coming in early.  Now maybe they did that against the non-BCS cupcakes they faced earlier, but I wouldn't do it against Ole Miss or Texas A&M.

If they're the same style of quarterback -- only Franklin's better -- why bring Mauk in.  And if it's to get him experience for next year, sorry, I think a West Division title is more important... especially since he's already got four starts under his belt.

Just my take. 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

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