Following Missouri's 21-16 win over Central Florida in which James Franklin was 19-30-1 (63%) for 257 yards and 1 TD passing (139.63 passer efficiency rating), Head Coach Gary Pinkel talked about his junior QB.
"I thought he played a pretty good game," said Coach Pinkel, talking about Franklin's week 5 performance. "The interception in that game was a breakdown of a route. We had an in route, and a guy ran a slight post. That was not (Franklin's) fault at all. He threw the ball exactly where it was supposed to be thrown."
In the spring, Franklin underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. In the second quarter of Missouri's second game of the season, Georgia's Jarvis Jones hit Franklin's arm just as he was throwing the football, which resulted in Franklin experiencing pain in his shoulder when he throws the football, a condition that has been described as being associated with an inflamed bursa in the shoulder. Because of the pain in his shoulder, Franklin missed Missouri's third game of the season, and he struggled to throw the football in week four. So, his week five performance was encouraging to everyone associated with the Missouri program. Coach Pinkel went on to talk about Franklin's shoulder.
"Yes (we are encouraged)," said Coach Pinkel. "We're not even talking about his shoulder anymore. That's over. He's back, and we expect him to get better."
Franklin's position coach, Offensive Coordinator David Yost, also weighed in on Franklin's shoulder. He said that the inflamed bursa in Franklin's shoulder is not related to the previous injury to his labrum.
"(His shoulder) is better," said Coach Yost. "Last week, I don't think it hindered any of his throws…………………………………………. I know it feels better every day. It gets better. There's (fewer) times when it does hurt. But still, there's going to be pain. From what we know about this type of injury, it doesn't just go away quickly. It takes some time."
"It's a pain that he's done a good job of fighting through," continued Coach Yost. "You can see it on his face sometimes that it doesn't feel good when he throws the football."
Against Central Florida, Franklin averaged 8.6 yards/pass attempt, and 13.5 yards/completion. This was the result of a concerted effort to get the ball down the field more, and an indication that Franklin's shoulder is better.
"I think (Franklin) made a conscious decision that he needs to be aggressive with the football," explained Coach Yost. "He's not a big risk-taker. He's not the gunslinger, risk-taker out there, just as a personality………………………………………. I thought he made a conscious effort to get the ball down the field, and he threw more down the field. And, I think I did a little better job of actually calling more things that were down the field, so we could have those shots, too. It was a combination of all of those things."
Franklin's coaches are encouraged that he played better against Central Florida, and that he demonstrated that his shoulder is improving, and that he was able to fight through the pain and throw the football effectively.
"It still hurts a little bit," said Franklin, who is a master of minimizing his own pain. "It was affecting me more mentally, because I was just doubting myself, and I had a lack of confidence. I think what I did better during the week of practice leading up to the Central Florida game, is just build that confidence going into that game. I'm going to make this throw, and I'm going to make this decision, and stick with it."
I asked Franklin for his evaluation of his play against Central Florida?
"It was okay," replied Franklin. "After the game, I felt good about it, because it was better than I had been doing………………………………………….. But, it's definitely not what I'm capable of, so I'm definitely disappointed (in that sense). But, it was better than I have been performing. I just want to continue to get better."
"I hope to play better than I did against Central Florida," continued Franklin. "I'm always looking for improvement. I would like to build off of that game, and play better this week."
Franklin talked about his improved confidence.
"(My confidence) is definitely better," explained Franklin. "It was better going into the (Central Florida) game, because of the things I did in practice (last week). So, I'm going to try to do the same thing this week, and get that confidence going into this game."