Late last week, the Missouri Tigers and head coach Gary Pinkel made official what many had suspected since last spring — James Franklin will be the starting quarterback when the Tigers take the field on August 31 against Murray State.
Pinkel and the team had an open quarterback competition heading into the fall, as Franklin tried to hold off Corbin Berkstresser and Maty Mauk. Franklin was able to win the job, and Mauk will serve as his backup.
Pinkel is reportedly on the hot seat in Columbia, after his team struggled last season, which was its first in the Southeastern Conference after moving from the Big 12 Conference. Pinkel’s decision, and Franklin’s play, could largely determine the coach’s fate.
Now, it is up to Franklin to try and regain the form he showed during his sophomore season. During that campaign, Franklin had 21 touchdown passes, 15 rushing scores and compiled nearly 4,000 yards of total offense. Last season, while battling injuries and SEC defenses, Franklin only mustered 10 touchdown passes, no rushing scores and he missed parts of five games.
Franklin is apparently healthy now after suffering injuries to his knee and his shoulder last season, as well as a concussion. A healthy Franklin is a good starting point for Mizzou, and he must lead the team like he has in the past.
If Missouri is to rebound from a 5-7 season last year, Franklin is the key. If he plays like he did as a sophomore, he can keep defenses honest by using his arms and legs. If he’s not able to make plays and help the offense move the ball, it could be another long year in Columbia.