Still Running

James Franklin will be the player to watch this weekend as Tech takes on the Tigers in Columbia.

Everyone who follows the Big 12 remembers the offensive prowess of Missouri quarterbacks Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert and the efficiency of which they ran the high-powered passing attack that is Gary Pinkel's offense.

However, it seems no one remembers Brad Smith, the quarterback that kick-started Missouri in the Pinkel era. 

Brad Smith was not a quarterback in the mold of Daniel and Gabbert. He was a runner and one of the most difficult players in college football to stop in his four years at Missouri.

He ended his career with 69 Missouri, Big 12 and NCAA game, season and career records, and ended his career as the all-time NCAA leading rusher for quarterbacks. He was passed a few years ago by West Virginia's Pat White.

That brings us to this year. Everyone seems to forget where Pinkel's offense began at Missouri, and the picture of the Tigers offense was their proficiency in the passing game. People forget Pinkel knows how to utilize each quarterback's individual talents.

Texas Tech Head Coach Tommy Tuberville said the changes have made their offense even more dangerous.

"This is not what they did last year. They were more of a throwing team," he said. "Their quarterback wasn't a runner. This year it's just totally opposite. They do a lot of the quarterback read, power plays."

Enter Sophomore Quarterback James Franklin out of Dallas, Tx. Franklin was part of the 2010 recruiting class for Missouri and boasted a four-star rating across several recruiting sites. And there was no mistake in the fact that he was a mobile quarterback.

None of that has changed. Franklin leads his team in rushing touchdowns and is second in the Big 12 in rushing yards for quarterbacks with 642.

Frankly, Franklin has made several teams look stupid this year. He is averaging over 300 yards of total offense per game while accounting for 27 of his team's touchdowns on the season.

Tuberville said Franklin's ability makes their offense even more versatile than it was last year.

"It all goes back to that one guy behind the center who is very good," he said. "He can make you look real bad if you don't tackle well."

Tackling. Anyone who has watched Tech over the last few weeks knows Tech's difficulty in wrapping up an opponent's running back. And now, Tech will have to worry about yet another quarterback who can run all over a team, if he is given the opportunity.

Texas Tech has had trouble stopping opponent's offenses, and even more trouble stopping running quarterbacks giving up 482 yards on the ground to five separate mobile quarterbacks.

Tuberville said his team will be watching plenty of film this week from their games against, Nevada, Kansas State and Iowa State to try and prepare for Franklin.

But this week is going to be about what Tech can do, not what Missouri can do, he said. If Tech can stop him, the Red Raiders have a chance. If they can't, we may have another rout on our hands.

"Hopefully we've got enough to dig deep," he said. "Some of the players that haven't played much can step in and play in these positions where we've had injuries and make us better."

They are going to have to find something because Franklin has nearly had as many offensive yards on his own (906), as Tech has had in total (971) over the last three weeks.

Tech will eventually have to stop someone. It will be tough to get back on track against James Franklin.

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