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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Lock Helps Missouri Bolster Offense

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxMissouri’s offense received a big lift this week when it received commitments from quarterback Drew Lock from Lee’s Summit (Mo.) High School and running back Natereace Strong from East St. Louis (Ill.) High School.

Lock, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 5 pro-style quarterback by Rivals, chose Missouri over Tennessee. Kentucky, Ole Miss, Michigan State, Ohio State and Texas also offered Lock a scholarship.

Lock said during a press conference Wednesday night that Missouri led throughout the recruiting process. His father, Andy Lock, played on the offensive line for the Tigers from 1986-89.

“I don’t feel like I could have played anywhere but Missouri because I feel like that’s where their heart lies, and that’s where my heart lies, too,” Drew Lock said. “(Lock’s father) did walk out into that stadium. To think that so many years later, I’m going to get the chance to actually do that, it’s surreal.”

Missouri’s recruiting on the offensive side of the ball is off to a strong start in the 2015 class.

The commitment from Strong, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 21 running back by Rivals, is the third running back commitment for the Tigers. He told Rivals he believes he will fit in nicely to Missouri’s offense.

“Their offense is a good offense – they are powerful and physical,” Strong said. “They put up numbers and I want to be in an offense that puts up numbers because that will help me get to the next level and that’s where I want to be.”

Lock plans to help Missouri put up those numbers. The Tigers’ recent quarterbacks, including Chase Daniel, James Franklin and Maty Mauk, have shown the ability to throw and run. Lock believes he can follow in that line.

“I would definitely say that my label is a pocket passer,” Lock said. “But I feel like I can bring so much more to the University of Missouri and the college level. I can get out and make plays if I need to, if the pocket breaks down. That’s something I take pride in.”

Lock has always taken pride in his family’s connection to Missouri. Andy Lock recalled a conversation he had with Drew about the future of the quarterback position at Missouri.

“Drew, would you be comfortable with somebody else quarterbacking the University of Missouri for three or four years, however long you get to play?” Andy remembered. “He goes, ‘Absolutely not.’ I said, ‘There you go. You just answered your own question.’

“That right there. He kind of went, ‘No, Dad, I’m not OK with that because I love that school and my family loves that school so, no, it would hurt me.’”

And Missouri is glad Lock will be there to help the Tigers.

 

Tennessee continues in-state run

Athlete Jauan Jennings gave Tennessee good news when he committed to the Vols on Monday.

Read the rest of this entry »

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SEC Headlines 2/22/2014

headlines-saturday1. Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason discussing suspended assistant Vavae Tata:  “In terms of coaching football with the Vanderbilt Commodores this year, it’s not going to happen.”  Later clarified: “I’ll just stick by my statement that he’s suspended right now.”

2. Tennessee coach Butch Jones on the proposed 10-second rule in college football: “I think it’s the equivalent of telling a basketball team you can’t full-court press.”

3. Charges of resisting arrest dropped against Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson in exchange for community service and good behavior in the next 90 days.

4. Perhaps the biggest surprise of an Alabama poll on SEC quarterbacks?  The love for Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk.

5. Just ONE -an interesting question for college fans to ponder.

SEC/NFL

6. Gil Brandt on Johnny Manziel: “He might be 5-11 and 3/4 but he plays like he’s 10-foot tall.”

7. Mike Mayock on Manziel: “When he got frustrated with not being able to get out of the pocket quickly enough, his accuracy and decision-making would suffer.”

8. The St. Louis Rams found some bad resume tape on Auburn tackle Greg Robinson: “I told them you can look at my later film and I improved it.”

9. LSU’s Jeremy Hill sent a letter to every NFL team explaining his off-field incidents and attaching character references.

10. South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington on his final performance as a Gamecock:  ”That was the game that kind of sealed the deal, if I was going to stay or come back.”

11. Breaking down the measurements on the Tennessee players at the NFL Combine.

SEC Basketball

12. In football, 10 SEC coaches crack the top 25 highest-paid list.  In basketball, just five of them do.

13. MrSEC: Hold off on this firings…no one wants your school’s crappy job.

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Done Deal: Franklin To Start At QB When Mizzou Visits Ole Miss

james-franklin-mu-new-uniAs expected, Missouri’s starting quarterback slot will be filled by senior James Franklin when the Tigers roll into Oxford, Mississippi this weekend.  Back from an injury to his throwing shoulder, Franklin will reclaim his starting gig from backup Maty Mauk (who handled things pretty well in Franklin’s absence).

The Tigers are 9-1 on the season, ranked in the top 10, 5-1 in the SEC, and on path to reach the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.  Mizzou’s only loss came in overtime to South Carolina as Mauk served as fill-in.  Gary Pinkel said last week that Mauk will still be used in some capacity on Saturday.

Franklin said yesterday that he doesn’t believe the final games of the 2013 season will define his career: 

 

“I pretty much feel like my legacy’s already been determined.  I’m not really concerned about how these last few games are gonna go.”

 

Regardless of what he means by that, you can bet many Tiger fans won’t like reading it.  And we can assure him that Missouri’s finish will indeed impact his legacy.  Players and coaches — unfairly — are only as good as their last game these days.  That’s no longer just a saying, it’s a fact.  And if the Tigers stumble down the stretch, Franklin — and Pinkel for playing him — will take some heat.

To capture the East Division title, the Tigers need to win on the road at Ole Miss and then beat Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel.  That’s a stiff challenge.  So stiff that no one should say MU chocked if they don’t win them.  (If they’d beaten those two early in the season and then lost to a Kentucky or Tennessee that would have been a choke job.)  Mizzou simply got no late-season break from the SEC schedule-makers.

But tough schedule or no, Tiger fans will be ready to celebrate or jeer Franklin depending on the outcomes of the next two Saturdays.

 

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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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Missouri’s Pinkel Making The Right Call With QB Switch

james-franklin-mu-new-uni“You can’t lose your job due to injury.”

That’s an idea from a by-gone age and you can look up the name Wally Pipp to see just how by-gone that age really was.  Now I’m not going to speak for the other guys who write for this site on this one as they may have a different view of things, but if not for injury, my fave team the Patriots would have never found Tom Brady.  And as much I liked Drew Bledsoe, Brady’s one of the best to ever play the game.

So when I say Gary Pinkel is making the right move in switching back from Maty Mauk to a now healthy James Franklin I do so based on football facts and on-field evidence.  The redshirt freshman QB has filled in admirably for the Tigers in Franklin’s absence, but the senior is the better player.

Mauk has played in seven games this season.  He’s run the ball 36 times for 160 yards and a touchdown.  That’s a 5.1 yards per carry average.  That’s good.  But Franklin’s numbers — from six games — are also good 65 carries, 290 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, and three scores.

Passing the ball there’s not even a contest:

 

  Player   Comp-Att   Comp%   Yards   Yards/Att   TDs   INTs   QB Rating   Yards/Gm
  Franklin   132-195   67.7%   1577   8.1   14   3   156.23   262.8
  Mauk   62-120   51.7%   951   7.9   10   2   142.41   135.9

 

Taking things a step further, if you look at Missouri’s production against BCS foes (Indiana, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky) you’ll find that the Mizzou offense has been more productive with Franklin at the controls.

Franklin has appeared in four of those aforementioned games.  He’s led 37 drives (not counting clock-killers at the end of a half or kneel downs at the end of a game).  Fourteen of those drives have ended in touchdowns.  (It would be 15 if we had counted the drive that he and Mauk split following Franklin’s injury versus Georgia.)  Franklin has led Mizzou to a TD in 37.8% of the drives he’s quarterbacked.

Mauk, on the other hand, has led the Tigers to 18 touchdowns (again, not counting the split-drive at Georgia) in 55 drives.  One of those TDs was a 25-yarder in overtime.  Another was a one-play, four-yard run by Henry Josey after a blocked punt last week in Lexington.  Even with those two touchdown drives counted — and we are being generous — the Tiger offense still managed TDs just 32.7% of the time with Mauk at the wheel.

That’s not to say Mauk hasn’t done well.  The Tigers went 3-1 in SEC play with a backup quarterback.  That’s not easy even if the wins do come over Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Mauk deserves credit for a job well done and Tiger fans can look forward to his growth in the future.  But Franklin deserves the starting quarterback job.  If he plays now as he did before his shoulder injury, Mizzou could absolutely win its last two against Ole Miss and Texas A&M and roll right on into Atlanta as SEC East champions.

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Mizzou Cruises Over Kentucky; Ole Miss Sends Arkansas Seventh Straight Loss

postgame-links-150x1501Missouri 48 – Kentucky 17. Video Highlights

1. Mizzou quarterback Maty Mauk ties a school record with five touchdown passes.

2. Tigers wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham sets a school record with four touchdown catches.“He was a man out there. There was nobody that was going to stop him.”

3. Quarterback James Franklin makes an appearance for the first time since injuring his shoulder against Georgia.

4. Too many mistakes for Kentucky.  Bad punt sets up Missouri’s first touchdown; blocked punt leads to the second one.

5. Kentucky now 2-7, drops 13th straight conference game.  Coach Mark Stoops: “It’s very frustrating.”

Ole Miss 34 – Arkansas 24. Video Highlights

6. Career-high 407 yards and three touchdowns for Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace.

7. Up 20-17 with Arkansas driving, two plays help tip the game in Ole Miss’ direction.

8. Rebels now bowl eligible for second straight year under coach Hugh Freeze.  ”I would say to be there, bowl eligible in the first two years I would say we’re probably ahead of schedule.”

9. For the first time since joining the conference, Arkansas is 0-6 in SEC play.  Razorbacks seven game losing streaks ties for worst in school history.

10. In the seven-game Arkansas losing streak, opposing quarterbacks have thrown for over 1,800 yards with 19 touchdowns against only three interceptions.

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Mizzou’s Pinkel On QB Mauk’s Performance: “We Kind Of Scared Him A Little Bit”

gfx - they said itMissouri quarterback Maty Mauk led the Tigers to a 31-3 thumping of Tennessee on Saturday night.  At times he appeared to be running for his life as he weaved and darted through and past Volunteer defenders for 113 yards on 14 carries.  Turns out, he might have actually been running for his job.

Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel says that before Saturday night’s clash, he informed Mauk that starting quarterback James Franklin — who dressed for the game — was ready to go if the redshirt freshman struggled:

 

“We kind of scared him a little bit.  If anything got fuzzy, he was out of there.”

 

The understudy’s time in the spotlight appears to be drawing to a close.  Pinkel said he thinks Franklin is “going to be very close next week… we think it’s very possible he’ll be ready.”

Missouri has gone 2-1 with Mauk at quarterback and he’s provided reason for hope in 2014 and beyond.  But Franklin is a more accomplished passer and his accuracy makes Mizzou’s offense even more dangerous.

 

  Player   Comp/Att   Pct   Yds/Gm   TD   INT   Rush Yds/Gm   Rush TD
  J. Franklin   132-of-195   67.7%   262.8   14   3   48.3   3
  M. Mauk   45-of-92   48.9%   124.7   5   2   22.6   1

 

The once-beaten Tigers will make their first trip to Kentucky as an SEC member on Saturday.

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Tiger Tales: Mizzou Names James Franklin Starting Quarterback; Auburn Expected To Name Starter Soon

gfx - they said itOne SEC team has settled on a starting quarterback and another quarterback battle at another school could be over by Monday.

At Missouri, coach Gary Pinkel announced Thursday night that incumbent James Franklin will retain his starting quarterback position.  Franklin had been in a battle since the spring with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk.

 

“James has shown that he’s very capable of leading this team at a high level, and we fully expect him to do that. He’s really developed as a leader of this offense, and of this team, and we feel he’s ready to be the difference-maker he was before all of the health challenges he dealt with last season.”

 

In two scrimmages, Franklin completed 67.5% of his passes with four touchdowns and one interceptions. Mauk completed 52.3% of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Meanwhile, at Auburn, coach Gus Malzahn would like to settle on a starting quarterback by Monday.  What started as a four-man battle is down to a two-man race between JUCO transfer Nick Marshall and true freshman Jeremy Johnson.  Here’s what Malzahn told reporters Thursday afternoon.

 

“It could be tomorrow, it could be the next day, Saturday or Sunday. Any time before next Monday would be really good for us, but like I’ve said before, we’re not sure.”

 

In a later appearance on a call-in show, Malzahn said of the two quarterbacks: “They’ve definitely caught our eye. What we’re asking those guys to do. … there’s a lot to it, and I feel pretty good about the way both of them responded and handled it.”

Auburn will conduct its fourth scrimmage Saturday.

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SEC Players On The Move 4/24/2013

Moving-Van1. Tennessee running back Marlin Lane is still suspended but on the path to returning, according to coach Butch Jones. “He knows what he has to do to be reinstated at this time.”

2. Missouri quarterback James Franklin is No. 1 on the depth chart according to coach Gary Pinkel.  He’s followed by redshirt freshman Maty Mauk and redshirt sophomore Corbin Berkstresser.

3. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, recovering from shoulder surgery, is ahead of schedule.  Wallace will begin throwing in 10 days.“We’re real excited to get him out there and do it,” said Ole Miss coach  Hugh Freeze on today’s SEC teleconference.

4. Alabama will investigate a tweet sent from the account of former lineman D.J. Fluker.  Fluker’s agent says the account had been hacked when a tweet appeared with the words, “Yea I took $ n college so wat.”   Said Alabama coach Nick Saban, ““We’re trying to do things the right way.”

5. Multiple stories today out on the Internet about Steve Spurrier saying he voted for Jadeveon Clowney on his Heisman ballot last year. Spurrier admitted this months ago – here’s a story from December where it’s mentioned.

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With Some Fans Itching For Change, Pinkel’s Coaching DNA Might Hurt Him At Mizzou

Gary PinkelMissouri’s Gary Pinkel has never been a warm, fuzzy kind of guy.  At least not when it comes to his dealings with the media.  And certainly not in regards to position-battles.

This spring, Maty Mauk and Corbin Berkstresser are working to steal the quarterback job away from incumbent starter James Franklin.  Asked about the the signal-callers’ performances in Mizzou’s first scrimmage, Pinkel refused to go into detail.  “All three of them did a lot of good things, and it’s very competitive and it’s also very, very positive, so I’m excited about it.”

Yeah, but who looked best?

 

“I don’t discuss evaluation in the spring in what we do.  We’ll just see where it goes and keep competing…

I just think that’s our business right now; it’s nobody else’s business.  And I don’t think I have to be concerned about what anybody else things, either.  I’ve handled it like that ever since I’ve ever done this…

That’s why we don’t release depth (charts) or anything at (this) particular time.  I don’t know how it’s going to end up, and that’s ok… I’m in no rush to make a decision, and generally it takes care of itself.”

 

There’s nothing wrong with what Pinkel said.  And there’s nothing wrong with his decision not to discuss who’s leading in man versus man competitions for starting roles.

But when your fanbase is starting to tire of you — it usually happens around Year 10; Pinkel is entering his 13th season — it’s probably best not to appear too snippy, too defensive, or too standoffish.

Nick Saban isn’t going to be opening a charm school anytime soon, but when you’ve won four BCS championships in a decade, you can afford to be a little prickly now and again.  Pinkel put Missouri football on the map but time, a move to the SEC, and an injury-plagued disappointment of a season last year are conspiring against the coach now.

Pinkel, like Saban, studied at the foot of former Kent State and Washington coach Don James.  A 1981 UPI story on James might shed some light onto his disciples’ similar styles:  “One reason it’s taken some time for James to become known nationally has to do with personality.  Unlike some of the larger-than-life characters who run the football factories at other campuses, James tends to be low-profile and understated.”

Pinkel certainly tries to be low-profile.  Again, no harm, no foul.  But with a section of the Tiger fanbase already talking about a potential coaching change, it might be time for the coach to do himself a favor and lighten up just a bit.  Saying it’s “nobody else’s business” sounds one way when you’ve just won 10 games… another when you’ve just won five.  Pinkel won five last season.

Tutored by a man who played his own cards close to the vest, Pinkel feels his team’s business is his business and no one else’s.  It’s fine to feel that way.  But when the wolves are starting to howl and the ol’ seat is starting to warm, it’s probably best not to tell everyone you feel that way.

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