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Around the Columns

Competition hot for quarterback spot

James Franklin

James Franklin delivers a strike during the Black and Gold football game April 16, 2011, at Memorial Stadium in Columbia. Photo by Rob Hill

By Marcus Wilkins

The calendar said April but the 43-degree air felt more like a November Saturday as the Mizzou football team hit Faurot Field for the April 16, 2011, Black and Gold Game. The offensive units appeared a bit chilly, too, with sophomore quarterback James Franklin and redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Gabbert taking turns leading the No. 1 offense against the defensive units.

The reserves — or Tigers 2 on the Memorial Stadium scoreboard — won the first half 21-10 over the No. 1 squad (Mizzou 1), though the reserves were staked to a 14-point lead at kickoff to even the competition. Franklin was 13 of 21 passing for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns, one for each squad. The first was a dish to Marcus Murphy who ran 32 yards for the score. The second was a 1-yard pass to senior wideout Brandon Gereau, one play after Franklin and Gereau hooked up for a 14-yard completion with nearly the same result.

“I’m just building a relationship with everybody so that we’re on the same page even if things break down,” said Franklin, noting that much could change before the season starts.

Gabbert — whose older brother Blaine is projected to go in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 28 — struggled at times, going 8 for 22 and 48 yards with the game’s only interception.

“James and Tyler are great competitors,” said junior defensive back Kip Edwards. “Every play, every down, they’ll compete, so I wouldn’t say it was a help on defense (to have the quarterbacks switching in and out).”

Senior running back De’Vion Moore looked sharp as the game’s leading rusher, slashing for 57 yards on five carries, and redshirt freshman linebacker Jared Parham smacked junior wide receiver T.J. Moe to cause a fumble for one of the day’s biggest defensive plays.

“We did a lot of mix and match of personnel the entire day,” head Coach Gary Pinkel said. “There was a substitution package for each quarter that will allow us to evaluate players. We’ll look at that, we’ll look at all 15 practices, then we’ll move into August, start all over again and the competition begins.”