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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.


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Defensive Pass Efficiency: The Stat To Watch In The SEC

For years the Southeastern Conference was a run-first league.  Then came Steve Spurrier.  His Fun ‘N’ Gun offense at Florida change all that.  Suddenly it was alright to put a team’s best weapons on offense and fling the ball all over the yard.  Enter quarterbacks like Danny Wuerffel, Peyton Manning, Tim Couch, Eli Manning, and David Greene and the league was transformed.

Now, late in 2012 the most important statistic — aside from turnovers — in the SEC is defensive pass efficiency.  Basically, it’s just “reverse quarterback rating.”  A team’s ability to defend itself against opposing gunslingers is more closely tied to winning and losing than a team’s own ability to move the ball through the air.  In other words, forget pass efficiency and study defensive pass efficiency instead.

Here’s why:


  School   Def. Pass. Eff. Vs SEC   SEC Record
  Florida   88.7   7-1
  Alabama   103.5   6-1
  LSU   105.4   4-2
  Vanderbilt   112.3   4-3
  Texas A&M   122.5   5-2
  S. Carolina   123.5   6-2
  Georgia   125.0   7-1
  Miss. State   140.4   3-3
  Missouri   140.4   2-5
  Ole Miss   145.6   2-4
  Kentucky   154.1   0-7
  Arkansas   154.5   2-4
  Auburn   159.0   0-7
  Tennessee   182.0   0-6


Amazingly, those teams that hold opposing SEC passers below a 140 passing efficiency rating are a combined 50-12 in SEC games this fall (80.6% win pct.).  Those defenses that allow opponents to post pass efficiency numbers of 140 or higher are a combined 9-36 in the SEC this year (25.0% win pct.).

Turnovers are massively important as we’ve pointed out many times, but if you’re looking for another stat to watch that ties directly to SEC wins and losses, defensive pass efficiency is the number to keep an eye on.  Shut down the other guy’s passer and your team will most likely win.

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SEC Headlines – 6/23/11 Part Two

1.  Former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel has posted an update on his recovery from Guillain Barre Syndrome… as well as a thanks to well-wishers.

2.  Chandler Parsons waits to learn which NBA team desires his versatility.

3.  Here’s a look at Tennessee’s 2011 football team… from a Florida perspective.

4.  Georgia’s new strength coach says the Dawgs’ football team is “training for football” under his watch.  Well, that makes sense.

5.  Over on our Recruiting Page, Josh Ward interviewed offensive line prospect Javarius Leamon of Woodruff, South Carolina. 

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SEC Headlines – 6/16/11 Part Two

1.  South Carolina had 14 out of 17 programs average a 3.0 team GPA in the spring semester… but count football and basketball among the under-3 group.

2.  Morehouse College will play Kentucky at Rupp Arena in an exhibition game.

3.  “Pocket dialing” and inadvertent texts have led to some secondary violations at Georgia.

4.  Egads! didn’t rank UGA’s Isaiah Crowell – who’s never played a down in the SEC — among the top 10 tailbacks in the league.

5.  Mark Richt has no clue why his players have stayed out of trouble the past few months.

6.  Here are five of the worst SEC nonconference games of the fall.

EXTRA — We don’t often mention ex-SEC players on the site because we just don’t have room, but we do want to send along our best wishes to former UF quarterback Danny Wuerffel who has been hospitalized with Guillain Barre Syndrome.  Wuerffel is one of the league’s all-time good guys and we hope he makes a speedy recovery.

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