Missouri quarterback James Franklin, who hasn’t played since he injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter against Georgia, looks like he will be ready to go as the Tigers get ready to take on Kentucky. Missouri has gotten a fairly decent performance from freshman Maty Mauk in three starts but the Tigers will need Franklin if they hope to make a run at the SEC East title in the coming weeks.
Mauk might be coming off of his best performance of the year in a 31-3 win over Tennessee where he rushed for 114 yards and threw for 163 yards and three scores. However, Missouri is a better team with Franklin under center at this moment.
Franklin has been fairly impressive this season, completing 132 passes on 195 attempts for 1577 yards and 14 touchdowns with only three interceptions while leading Missouri to six straight wins to start the year. The Tigers’ offense has averaged a little over 45 points per game with Franklin under center but just over 30 points with Mauk at the helm. That isn’t a knock on Mauk as he looks to have a very bright future but the offense hums with Franklin calling the shots.
Head coach Gary Pinkel has already said that this could be the week he gets his starting quarterback back and there were reports that Pinkel used the possibility of Franklin’s return to motivate Mauk to elevate his game last week. While Mauk seemingly did do as the coaching staff asked it won’t save him from being benched as Franklin should be fully healthy on Saturday.
Missouri doesn’t have a quarterback controversy. Instead, they have their best quarterback back healthy while their young backup and future quarterback got valuable experience that should bode well for him and Missouri in the future. Mauk’s time will come but this is Franklin’s team right now.