What to watch for during Missouri’s spring game

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Black and Gold Spring Game

When: Saturday, April 20th
Where: Columbia, MO
Time: 1:00 PM CT

Here’s what we’ll be watching Saturday:

A position battle to lead the offense: The battle for the starting quarterback job is still ongoing despite starter James Franklin returning for his senior season. The job is currently between Franklin and freshman Maty Mauk, and Gary Pinkel has remained mum on who leads up to this point. Last year’s backup Corbin Berkstresser has been passed on the depth chart by Mauk this spring. Mauk has a cannon for an arm and is more mobile than what most think, and he’s been the best thrower of any of the quarterbacks in the last two months. A healthy James Franklin, though, should win the starting job this fall. This quarterback battle Saturday will be fun to watch.

Defensive position battle: All the talk about position battles revolves around the offense, but the second corner slot is wide open for the taking opposite EJ Gaines. Gaines, an established veteran, has started every game in the last two seasons. Senior Randy Ponder is the favorite to win the job, but he’s been hampered by an injury. David Johnson, John Gibson and Xavier Smith are three still battling for the vacancy. Johnson has been taking all the first-team reps since Ponder’s injury. Cornerback is one concern heading into 2013 and beyond.

Josey is back: The loudest cheer Saturday will belong to running back Henry Josey. Josey was an All-Big 12 performer after rushing for an electrifying 1,168 yards and nine touchdowns, playing in just 10 games before his nasty knee injury that sidelined him for the 2012 season. Josey may not play much Saturday (there’s too much to risk), but his presence alone in a deep backfield bodes well for a much-improved offense in 2013. Josey was noticeably missing from the offensive weaponry.

One unit worth watching: The biggest weakness shown last season belonged to the offensive line, thanks in part to an inordinate amount of injuries at a depthless position. Pinkel moved rising sophomore and future star Evan Boehm to center to help stabilize the corps, and returners Justin Britt, Brad McNulty, Max Copeland and Mitch Morse look to firm up the other four remaining spots. Missouri’s offense will get better by just having their starters back on the offensive line.

Star in the making: The former No. 1 overall prospect, Dorial Green-Beckham, is finally coming into his own. Pinkel recently said DGB is ‘a lot different player’ that he was last season, in reference to his eight catch, 135-yard scrimmage performance. Green-Beckham’s numbers will benefit from a better passing offense, something at which Missouri’s new offensive coordinator Josh Henson is certainly aiming.

Photo Credit: Dak Dillon-US PRESSWIRE

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