On the season, Missouri sophomore starting QB James Franklin has completed 60.8% of his pass attempts, for an average of 12.81 yards/completion, and 7.79 yards/pass attempt. He has thrown 13 TDs and 7 INTs.
For some perspective, former Missouri great, Chase Daniel, holds the school's career record for an important passing statistic at 7.78 yards/pass attempt.
In addition, Franklin ranks fifteenth nationally, with 301.5 yards of total offense/game. His passer efficiency rating of 138.32 ranks forty-seventh nationally.
One week after turning the football over four times in defeat, Franklin led his team to a come-from-behind overtime victory on the road. Franklin talked about what he can take from bouncing back, and having success.
"On the confidence side, I know that I can play like that, if I focus well, and if I go through what I'm supposed to, if I go through what I'm coached," explained Franklin. "And, it's something that I'll try to apply this week."
One of Franklin's favorite receivers, sophomore Marcus Lucas, talked about his QB.
"James is a great quarterback," said Lucas. "Everyone likes him and wants to be around him."
I went to Franklin's coaches to get their opinions on his performance, his potential, and what he needs to do to get better.
"I think every quarterback goes through tough games," said Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel. "(James Franklin) probably takes a little too much on himself, but you go back and analyze the turnovers. Most people simply will look at the quarterback and say, ‘It's his fault', but a route could be run the wrong way, a player could come out of a break the wrong way."
Franklin is very conscientious, and team-oriented.
"There are breakdowns in other areas, and what we do is we make sure that he understands those," explained Coach Pinkel. "We separate those. Certainly, especially for a young quarterback, you are always concerned about them taking too much on themselves. He's the kind of guy that would do that because that's the type of person he is, so we've got to help him through that………………………………. That's the kind of quarterback that you want. He's taking responsibility, actually for some things that he didn't do, he's taking responsibility for…………………………………… It's not the first time a quarterback has had a tough day. It's not going to be the last."
Franklin is a good decision-maker.
"For the most part, (Franklin's) been making good decisions," said Coach Pinkel. "He's had a few bad decisions. I still think he's a real good player. He's doing a lot of things well."
"Looking at (our) record, it's frustrating," said Franklin, following the home loss to Oklahoma State. "That's something that we're trying to fix…………………………….. After watching the film, it was frustrating……………………………… Just missing those throws is frustrating, because we work on them in practice all of the time. For the most part, I do it right. Coach Yost does a good job of coaching me. But then, come game time, I did some things that I had never been coached to do, and don't do in practice………………………………... Mostly, I feel like I let the guys down. And, that's something that I don't want to do."
"I think (Franklin's) finding out how hard it is to win," said Missouri Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach, David Yost. "You put so much into it, and when you're not successful, it hurts on the inside. That's what a competitor has to deal with. It's part of the learning curve."
Franklin identified inconsistent footwork as responsible for inaccurate throws.
Coach Yost agreed with Franklin that the sophomore's footwork is to blame for his inaccurate throws.
"A lot of his missed throws are not being in rhythm, with his footwork," said Coach Yost. "Sometimes it's not having space to step up. There's other times, where he's rushed, and he doesn't stay in his rhythm. It's a process that all quarterbacks go through. He's gotten better at it since the beginning of the season, but he's not perfect, and that's what we're working toward."
"We know that when he's missed throws, really that's what it comes down to," explained Coach Yost. "Because, he's very accurate. When he's balanced, and everything's in line, he's accurate."
I asked Coach Yost to evaluate Franklin's performance through his first seven starts.
"I think he's shown us, and shown his teammates, and everybody, what he is capable of doing," said Coach Yost. "That's what you want to see. You know you've got a guy that can make a lot of plays for you, that can lead the offense, that when we're executing at a high level, he can put up a lot of yards, points, and can put our guys in position. He can make throws down the field. He can get the ball to the guys on time. He's not a look-at-one-receiver guy. He spreads the ball around. There's a lot of positives there. It's just a process of doing that for all four quarters of a football game, and doing it game after game after game…………………………………. Consistency and doing it over and over and over. That's all part of the learning curve that we're going through right now. It's not easy to play quarterback."
"(Franklin's) vertical passing game is really ahead of where I ever thought he would be at this point," said Coach Yost. "Throwing the ball vertically, and getting the ball down the field, he's pretty good at that, and he has a good feel for that. We're probably getting the ball down the field more so with him than we have with any of our other quarterbacks when they were sophomores."
Coach Yost also pointed out how effective Franklin is with the running game, and that in combination with Henry Josey, how that has really opened up play-action passing unlike they've been able to do before. He also talked about Franklin's response to the disappointing losses.
"(Franklin) wants to do well," said Coach Yost. "And, he wants to do well for all of the right reasons. He wants to do well for his football team………………………………..It's a team effort……………………………. He knows that he's capable of doing the things we're asking of him. It's just a matter of him going out and doing it, and the guys around him helping as much as they can."
Following Missouri's 38-31 OT victory at Texas A&M, Coach Pinkel talked about his sophomore quarterback. He said that when Franklin broke several tackles on an early TD run, that it inspired his teammates.
"I don't think there's any question that it set the tone for the game," said Coach Pinkel, with admiration for Franklin in his voice. "You saw a player that said he was going to do everything he could to win a game. It was a pretty amazing run! He had a third and five or six later in the game, right in front of our bench, that did exactly the same thing. He had to break two or three tackles to get the first down. When you have a player like that that is your leader, and he's throwing his body up a little bit, I think there is no question it has a huge impact on your team. I know our players responded in a very positive way."
"(Franklin) played pretty good (at Texas A&M)," continued Coach Pinkel. "What he has to do now is about consistency. It's about bringing that A game every week."