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Friday, March 11, 2011
Notes/observations from Mizzou practice

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A chilly, blustery day meant practice indoors for Missouri on Thursday, where the Tigers took the field in shorts and helmets for about two hours. Here are a few notes and observations from what I saw:

It's so early in the competition, and I saw just a small portion of what the coaches will ultimately use to make the decision, so it's not prudent to make any sweeping generalizations about the quarterbacks at Missouri. There's no question that James Franklin is a step ahead of the other two at this point, and looked the part on Thursday.

That said, Missouri has three quarterbacks who look capable of running its offense well enough to win games. You look around the Big 12 and not many schools can say that. At least a few schools don't even have one.

They all had some forgettable throws in team drills; bad decisions, a ball behind a receiver, etc. But all three showed flashes of what they could be. Franklin looks sharp on tight out routes and finding seams down the middle. Offensive coordinator David Yost also was complimentary of his deep ball, which he didn't show off a ton in practice. All three have the physical tools to make all the throws, but consistency is what will set them apart. I'll have more on the race next week with plenty of input from Yost, coach Gary Pinkel and Franklin, but it's still very, very early in the race.

Plenty of balls hit the ground, way more than you'd see in a practice with Chase Daniel or Blaine Gabbert, but that's what you'd expect at this point. There's lots of growth ready to happen for the Tigers' quarterbacks, and for the coaching staff, there's certainly some excitement at getting to see that happen.