Black and Gold game a showdown for QB contenders

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, April 14 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

Missouri running back Marcus Murphy, center, splits defenders George White (99) and Robert Steeps (22) during the first half of an NCAA college football scrimmage game Saturday, April 14, 2012, in Columbia, Mo.

L.G. Patterson, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Gearing up for its first season in the Southeastern Conference, Missouri concluded its spring schedule Saturday with the annual Black and Gold game.

With quarterback James Franklin sidelined after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder last month, Corbin Berkstresser and Ashton Glaser emerged as the top two contenders to take over the first-team offense.

Berkstresser had rose to the top of the depth chart before the Black and Gold game, having completed 27 of 41 passes for 359 yards and 2 touchdowns in two scrimmages.

On Saturday, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound redshirt freshman from Lee's Summit, Mo., threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Moe, but also had his third interception of the spring returned by linebacker Donovan Bonner 65 yards for a touchdown. He finished the day completing 13 of 20 passes for 187 yards, saying he felt comfortable because the quicker tempo of a game prevented him from thinking too much.

This spring, Glaser had completed 27 of 41 passes for 276 yards and 2 TDs. On Saturday, the 6-foot, 205-pound junior from Springdale, Ark., threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns, and went 14-of-25 passing.

"We're competitive, but we don't really talk about it," Berkstresser said. "Me and Ashton are close, we're not going to get down on each other. We're going to help each other with the plays, so if I made that wrong read or a nice throw, we're always there to help each other."

Coach Gary Pinkel said he didn't expect the depth chart to change after Saturday's game. He said Berkstresser would continue working with the first-team offense when practices resume in June.

Franklin's arm is out of a sling, and he said he expects to be healthy by August.

"I'm thinking about actually throwing the ball up tomorrow, possibly," he said. "But I don't want to push it too fast because I've heard a lot that whenever it starts to feel good, that's when it's most dangerous. So I'm just playing it safe for now."

Pinkel said the 12 players — Franklin included — injured during spring camp was the most he has seen. They are all expected to be back before the season starts.

"My frustration during spring ball is they're just not getting reps," Pinkel said. "They could be out there, (playing) 15 practices, getting better. There's only one way you become a better football player, and that's getting stronger, faster and quicker, (gaining) the knowledge of your position. And then practicing fundamentals."

With the school's move into a football conference renowned for strong offensive and defensive lines, Missouri will be replacing three starters on both sides of the ball.

But the Tigers won't be without experienced players, as several who saw action in a reserve role last season will be ready to lead.

On offense, center Travis Ruth is returning, as is Justin Britt, who transitioned from left tackle to right tackle. Elvis Fisher, who missed last season with a torn left patellar tendon, will play in his sixth year this fall at left tackle.

Brayden Burnett, Brad Madison and Michael Sam all saw significant playing time at defensive end last season. Sam led the Tigers with five sacks this spring, including one on Saturday.

"Like any other program, you try to rebuild," said defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. "It's more of a reload thing for us."

At halftime of the Black and Gold game, Missouri debuted their new uniforms, the culmination of a 18-month collaboration with Nike and a two-month marketing campaign. The biggest change featured a tiger-head logo on the helmets, replacing the block "M'' that had been used since 1971.

Equipment manager Don Barnes said Missouri wanted to revitalize its brand and make it unique.

"We knew we took the M off," Barnes said. "We were very sensitive about that.

"This is a new era for Missouri. Our brand is going coastal. We were doing this before the SEC. But now that that's happened, everything's coming together."

Game notes: Alex Oriakhi, who Missouri announced Friday will transfer from Connecticut to play basketball next season, attended Saturday's game on the field alongside coach Frank Haith.

Attendance was 18,614.

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