One of the keys for the Missouri Tigers in 2013 will be the play of senior quarterback James Franklin. Two years ago, Franklin was an all-conference performer for the Tigers, as he passed and ran his team to an 8-5 record. However, last season, Franklin struggled with injuries and with the competition level in the Southeastern Conference, as the Tigers were only able to manage a 5-7 mark.
If Franklin’s play in Saturday’s 38-23 win over the Toledo Rockets is any indication, the old James Franklin may be back in Columbia. Two key plays in the game would lead one to believe that statement is true.
With his team leading just 24-23, Franklin ran for 21 yards, setting up running back Henry Josey’s one-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to eight.
And then, in the fourth quarter, Franklin made a huge play on fourth-and-three, gaining six yards to sustain the drive. Later in the same possession on a third-and-nine, Franklin again carried the ball, this time ripping off 11 yards to keep the drive alive once again. That drive culminated in Marcus Murphy’s eight-yard touchdown drive with 10:29 left that put the game away for Missouri.
After taking a literal beating last season, it is important for Missouri to get off to a fast start this season. And thus far, they have done so. But when SEC play rolls around, it will be important for the team and head coach Gary Pinkel to have confidence in Franklin, and for him to have confidence in himself. Saturday’s performance had to instill confidence in every Tiger.