James Franklin is not the assured starter for 2013 because of lackluster offensive numbers last season.
Missouri Tiger fans have had four months to digest the final game of the schedule in which Johnny Manziel torched the Tigers and assured them of no bowl game for the first time since the 2004 season.
But four months has seen changes that could energize what was an extremely stagnant offense in 2012. Gone is offensive coordinator David Yost, who had taken over when Dave Christensen departed to become the head coach at Wyoming.
But for those fans who aren't quite done playing the blame game yet, head coach Gary Pinkel all but said that his quarterback James Franklin would be fighting to keep his job:
"The foundation of our program is competition. It always has been, and it always will be, there are no guaranteed positions on the team. Everyone has to go out there and earn their spots, earn their playing time. If a young guy beats a veteran out, they beat them out, it's for the good of the team," Pinkel said prior to spring drills (h/t MUTigers.com).
He calls out no specific position or name, but the first thought that comes to mind for a Mizzou fan—the glaring elephant in the room—is what will be the role of 2011 and 2012's starter James Franklin?
We're all familiar with the play of Corbin Berkstresser, another quarterback who showed glimpses of great ability but couldn't find consistency. But for 2013, throw redshirt freshman Maty Mauk into the mix and you have an official quarterback bonanza brewing at Missouri.
It can't go without saying that the offensive line issues for Missouri were extremely unfortunate last season. Only one player started all the games for the Tigers: true freshman Evan Boehm, who wasn't even supposed to play in 2012 but was forced into the role when several starters were lost for the season just prior to its beginning.
It's unlikely the same kind of thing will repeat itself this year, so it's safe to say that whoever the Tigers have at quarterback will be receiving at least a little more protection.
Is there going to be more clarity after spring drills? It isn't likely. Missouri has a quarterback dilemma that might just come down to going into August without knowing a starter. Pinkel has shown that he's not afraid to go with multiple signal-callers, but has always had a knack for promoting successful quarterbacks as well.