In due time
One performance doesn't define a quarterback.
That's the mantra Tyler Gabbert, Ashton Glaser and James Franklin live by this spring. In the race to replace Blaine Gabbert as Missouri's new starting quarterback, the three main challengers are taking a level-headed approach to the daily competition.
It's a long way until Sep. 3, when Missouri hosts Miami (Ohio) in its first game of the 2011 season. Five and a half months -- or 168 days -- to be exact.
That's why, even after an impressive, efficient performance by Tyler Gabbert in the spring's first scrimmage, he's not looking too far ahead.
That's why, even after admitted sub-par, inconsistent performances by Glaser and Franklin in the spring's first scrimmage, they're not writing themselves off.
It's all about perspective in Missouri's quarterback quandary. Everything comes with a big grain of salt.
Gabbert, for instance, was by far the most efficient on Saturday, completing 20-of-27 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown. He was the only quarterback to keep the ball away from the defense, as Glaser and Franklin both threw an interception and avoided more on drops by the defense. Gabbert finished the day with a passing efficiency rating of 150.39, well above Franklin's 86.91 and Glaser's 95.87.
"I think it's building off the practices I've put together," Gabbert said. "I've been working my butt off and luckily my receivers were making plays. I wasn't throwing perfect balls."
There's that perspective.
Gabbert didn't see a series against the first-team defense. Franklin played in two different series opposite a largely first-team defense, while Glaser participated in four series in that situation. Gabbert's final pass of the scrimmage, a 64-yard catch-and-run to a wide-open L'Damian Washington also skewed the stats. Without it, Gabbert's rating would have finished at 118.95.
"L'Damian helped me out," Gabbert said. "... He had a wide-open window and I just kind of flicked it to him."
That same grain of salt works for Glaser and Franklin, however. Unofficially, Glaser completed nine of 17 passes against the first string defense, including his only touchdown of the day. Against the second and third defensive units, Glaser went five for ten with an interception, coming on a forced throw that walk-on safety Tyler Davis picked off.
Franklin unofficially completed five of 12 passes against the first-team defense. That included his interception, in which he forced a throw to the left on a slant that ended up with Zaviar Gooden, who returned it for a touchdown. But then there was his touchdown, perhaps the best play of the day.
From the right hash at the ten-yard line, Franklin felt pressure coming from the right and rolled across the field to his left while keeping his eyes down field. On the run, he threw across his body and lofted a pass to the back corner of the endzone. Brandon Gerau jumped and corralled the ball for a touchdown.
All three quarterbacks admitted that the constant shuffling of the offensive units presents a challenge.
"It gets confusing, because of the timing and different receivers and offensive linemen," Glaser said. "Everyone does things a little bit differently. It starts to get to you, but you just have to work on it."
"Coach Pinkel told us they're looking for different things with different units," Gabbert said. "It's more about the decision making, where you're going with the football and being careful. Managing the game. Moving the chains is great, but decision making and what's going up here (points to head) tells a lot."
Although Franklin said he did "terrible" and gave himself a D+ on the day, he remembered what his coach says after every scrimmage.
"It's never as good as you think and it's never as bad as you think," Franklin said, quoting Gary Pinkel. "We all did some good things, made a few mistakes, but overall, my performance, I don't think it was that good at all.
"Just because I'm on the first string doesn't mean that's where I'm going to be."
Perspective. It's a word that fans and players alike sometimes have a hard time comprehending. But, with eight practices and three scrimmages remaining this spring, Gabbert, Glaser and Franklin aren't looking too far ahead. Summer workouts, two-a-days and August camp make the starting job a long-term goal.
There are still many performances ahead to define these quarterbacks.
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