2012 Year In Review: Missouri Quarterbacks

With the year 2012 about to be officially in the books,  ShowMeMizzou.com takes a look back at the year of Tigers' football, starting with QB position, which was a position which had it's share of difficulties, as we ready for 2013.

For Missouri, the 2012 football season is in the books.  ShowMeMizzou.com takes a look back at the Tigers’ QB position, which first requires an accounting of games and time missed by Mizzou’s starting QB due to injuries.

James Franklin suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder during the first week of spring practices which required surgery and which caused him to miss the remainder of spring ball, as well as put him behind what would be considered a normal practice schedule leading up to and including the beginning of fall camp.  Still, Franklin appeared to be well during camp, and exhibited improved throwing mechanics and increased arm strength. 

Franklin played well enough for two-and-a-half quarters in Missouri’s season-opening blowout over SE Louisiana.   In the second quarter of week two, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones hit Franklin’s right arm as the junior QB was beginning to throw the football, and as that game moved into the second half, a painful bursa sac in his throwing shoulder left Franklin unable to throw the football with any strength or accuracy.   In the fourth quarter of that game, Franklin attempted to throw a pass over Jarvis Jones to a Missouri receiver, but the ball fell horribly short, and ended up going right to Jones, who returned it to the Missouri 1-yard line.

Finding it too painful to throw the football, Franklin would miss the Arizona State game, and though he started in week four at South Carolina, he was still ineffective throwing the football, and struggled with accuracy.

It was at about this point in the season that Franklin told me that of all the injuries that he had previously played through, this inflamed bursa was the most difficult with which he had yet dealt.

Still fighting through the pain in his throwing shoulder, Franklin played well enough for the Tigers to win at Central Florida.

The next week, at home against Vanderbilt, Franklin was effectively playing through the pain, and he had the Tigers leading, and on the move in the first quarter when he was hit on the knee and suffered a sprained MCL, which would also keep him out of action against Alabama.

A bye week allowed Franklin to heal up a little, and although he didn’t start against Kentucky, he was able to limp onto the field and hand the football off to preserve the Missouri victory.  His mere presence on the field seemed to elevate the play of his teammates on both sides of the football, and the Tigers gained their first SEC Conference win.

The following week at Florida, Franklin was still inhibited by the lingering effects of his sprained left knee.  As a result of what appeared to be an inability to plant effectively on his left leg, many of Franklin’s throws sailed high, and he ended up throwing 4 interceptions, which sabotaged an otherwise winning effort over the current #4 Gators.

After halftime at Tennessee, Franklin finally found his stroke, and put together a 4-TD performance that gave Missouri a 4 OT come-from-behind victory in Knoxville.

Early in the fourth quarter the following week, with Missouri and Syracuse tied at 17-17, Franklin suffered a concussion, and missed the rest of the season.

On the season, Franklin made 8 starts, in addition to finishing up the Kentucky game.  Because of injuries, he failed to complete two of his starts.   As Coach Pinkel has often pointed out, in order for the Missouri offense to be successful, the QB has to play at a high level.

On the season, Franklin was 139-234-7 (59.4%) for 1562 yards (6.68 yards/pass attempt) and 10 TDs passing, for a passer efficiency rating of 123.59.   Franklin also racked up 122 net rushing yards on 88 carries, a statistic which of course includes 188 yards lost, mostly from sacks.    

Unquestionably, Franklin’s overall season statistics include performance that was diminished due to playing through injuries, and due to missed practice time as well.   When he was relatively healthy, he played better than his season averages.   But in the end, his overall season numbers are not reflective of high-level QB play.  

With Franklin missing so much time due to injuries, red-shirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser played extensively.  Berkstresser started 4 games, and finished the season 88-177-7 (49.7%) for 1059 yards (5.98 yards/attempt) and 5 TDs passing, for a passer efficiency rating of 101.39.   He seemed to especially struggle with blitzes.  He rushed for 56 net yards and 3 TDs on 53 carries, after subtracting 104 yards in losses, including sacks. 

From a statistical standpoint, Berkstresser’s performance was lacking.  It’s a testament to the Missouri defense, and to the Missouri coaching staff, that the Tigers were able to win two of Berkstresser’s four starts, victories over Arizona State and Kentucky.   For sure, Berkstresser gained experience, and he also showed some promise.

Coach Pinkel said that he’s never had a QB miss as much time due to injury.   From my perspective, 2012 tells us that you have to have a quality back-up QB who’s ready to play.

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