COLUMBIA — Missouri coach Gary Pinkel doesn't want to admit it, but he might have a quarterback controversy on his hands.
Pinkel has been able to avoid quarterback issues during most of his time at Missouri with a combination of good talent and good luck. Three Missouri quarterbacks in a row (Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert) have been drafted into the NFL, and all three never missed a game due to injury.
But after a weak performance from Pinkel's current starting quarterback, James Franklin, against South Carolina last Saturday, fans and media have begun to question whether Franklin is the best man for the job. Senior wide receiver T.J. Moe also seemed to raise the same question in an interview with KMOV earlier this week.
Moe spoke highly of the Tigers' backup quarterback, Corbin Berkstresser, who led the team's only touchdown drive last week. Berkstresser also started for Missouri two weeks ago in a win against Arizona State, when Franklin sat out with an injured throwing shoulder.
Franklin admitted that the shoulder is still bothering him and that the pain from the lingering injury is affecting his confidence.
"I’ve been not trusting myself with being able to make throws or put something on it,” he told The Associated Press.
Nevertheless, Pinkel said Thursday that he is sticking with Franklin as the starter for the team's game against Central Florida on Saturday.
Tigers face Knights for first time
When Missouri and Central Florida play Saturday, it will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
Central Florida has found some success since moving up to Division I FBS level in 1996. The Knights have won two Conference USA championships and played in four bowl games since 2005. They are scheduled to join the Big East next season.
So far this season, Central Florida is 2-1 with the lone loss coming at Ohio State (4-0). Oddsmakers have the Knights favored to win the game, and Missouri is certainly not overlooking them.
"They’re a disciplined team that is very impressive," Gary Pinkel said earlier this week. "They’ve got good size and run really well with great talent. They played Ohio State very close, which gives us respect for them, what they can do and what they’ve done.”
Is SEC football too strong for Missouri?
Missouri gets this weekend off from SEC play, but will finish with six of its last seven games against Southeastern Conference opponents.
The Tigers are 0-2 so far in their new conference and look overwhelmed, having been outscored 72-30.
But a group of reporters in St. Louis agree that the Tigers' struggles are less a result of the level of competition in the SEC, and more due to the fact that both teams they played (Georgia and South Carolina) are ranked in the top 10.
Supervising editor is Frank Russell.