Following his team's 31-10 loss at South Carolina, Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel on Monday talked about the performance of his junior starting quarterback, James Franklin, who was 11-18-0 (61.1%) for 92 yards against the Gamecocks, and who is 49-80-1 (61.3%) for 492 yards (6.2 yards/attempt) and 3 TDs, with a passer efficiency rating of 122.79 on the season.
"I think (James Franklin) can play better," replied Coach Pinkel, when he was asked about Franklin's performance. "But I think he's doing okay. I think generally, anytime you look at an offense, especially our offense, if we're struggling, they're going to point to the quarterback. We understand that. What we do is we break everything down. We see the receivers. We see the offensive line. We see every aspect of it."
"I believe in (James Franklin)," continued Coach Pinkel. "And, I expect him to get better."
Coach Pinkel also said that Missouri's young offensive line is getting better.
"I think you've got to block better, you've got to throw better, and you've got to catch better," stated Coach Pinkel, in reply to questions regarding the problems with the Missouri offense. "And if we do all of those things better, and more consistent, then we'll move the ball better. And that's the facts."
Coach Pinkel went on to say that he is very disappointed in his team's execution, and that he believes that the Tigers are better than they played.
"You've got to play well in order to win," said Coach Pinkel, "Especially against the people that we've been playing."
Franklin missed the Arizona State game with an inflamed bursa in his throwing shoulder. He said that during the South Carolina game, it hurt for him to throw the football. He openly talked about how the pain in his shoulder affected his play.
"It's been bothering me," admitted Franklin, when I asked him about the pain in his shoulder. "I think it's been affecting some of my decision making, my aggressiveness in attacking the defense. That's the biggest thing for me is it's more mental."
I asked James Franklin to explain?
"(It's affecting me) just beginning to doubt myself," explained Franklin, candidly talking about his own self-evaluation. "It's an, I don't know if can get the ball here in time, or I don't know if I can make this throw kind of thing? Just being hesitant, and maybe taking the easier completion, so to speak?"
Franklin went on to explain that he recognizes that because of the pain in his shoulder that he just wasn't as aggressive in his choice of where to throw the football. He hesitated, and took the easier completions, not as much because of the pain itself, but because he lacked the confidence that he could complete the more difficult throws, and the longer throws.
Franklin was asked about playing through the pain, and how it was affecting him?
"Last year, I played with broken ribs, or broken fingers, or whatever," explained Franklin. "But with the shoulder, and having to be accurate (throwing the football) and having to put something on it, that's the thing that's kind of difficult……………………………………………… I've dealt with worse injuries, from the extent of the injury. But for my position, this is probably the toughest one that I've had to deal with."
Franklin plans to work on throwing through the pain this week during practice.
"I think I'll practice more on it this week," explained Franklin. "There were times in practice last week, where I wouldn't put as much on the ball because I knew it was going to hurt. I figured at game time, that it wouldn't be an issue. But obviously, it was. So, I think I'll just put more on it in practice, so that I can get used to it, so that I know what it's going to be like, and so that I know what I can do."
I asked Franklin about his decision-making in Missouri's run game, which is usually one of his strengths.
"I did okay with regards to pulling it when I'm supposed to pull it or not," explained Franklin, talking about his decision-making in the run game. "I mean, I did okay. Definitely, not as well as I've done in the past. But, it was alright. Definitely, it could have been better. I think it could have helped out at some points."
Franklin said the he's "all for" getting the football to Missouri's tailbacks more often. He said that it's something that has been talked about. He bravely and candidly answered my question about his overall performance against South Carolina.
"It was definitely not where I wanted it to be," replied Franklin. "I could definitely tell from watching the film that I just wasn't in the same rhythm, and doing the same things that I usually do in the game. So, I'm definitely disappointed, and then I'll try to come up this week and play better than last week."
Franklin went on to identify his plan of action.
"I think I really just need to trust myself more with being able to make some throws, and to be able to make the reads," explained Franklin. "I think those are the biggest things I need to work on this week."
After listening to James Franklin, I wanted to get another perspective on Franklin's performance. So, I asked Missouri's leading receiver about Franklin?
"I know that James Franklin is competing on every play," replied Missouri junior wide receiver, Marcus Lucas, in response to a question about Franklin's performance. "And, he's trying to make his best judgment out there……………………………………………… He can do it! He's giving everything he's got out there."