September 25, 2012

Tuesday Tiger Notebook

Though Gary Pinkel defused any talk of a quarterback controversy before it could even begin on Saturday night in Columbia, South Carolina, one thing was clear as the Missouri football team returned to its own Columbia: James Franklin has to play better.

The fans are talking about it, the media is asking about it and Franklin himself knows it.

"That's why a lot of our plays didn't seem like they were clicking or working good," Franklin said. "I was struggling. I need to step my game up.

After sitting out a 24-20 win over Arizona State with an inflammation of the bursa sac in his shoulder, Franklin returned to the Missouri lineup against the Gamecocks. But he accounted for a career-low 98 yards of total offense and was on the sideline in the waning minutes of a blowout before the Tigers scored their first touchdown on Saturday.

"I wasn't really attacking. I was kind of being tentative and I could see it definitely in the film. I could feel it out there, but I didn't realize it was so obvious until I was able to watch the film.

"I think the biggest thing it's doing is it's killing my confidence. In the past, when my shoulder's hurt, when I throw in a game, I don't feel it. With this, it's a little different because I feel it. I think that's really been killing my confidence because I've been not trusting myself to make throws or put something on it, things like that. It does hurt, but the biggest thing it's hurt is my confidence."

Franklin says he'll play this weekend. He hasn't gotten much better since last Monday, but he also said he hasn't gotten worse.

"It hasn't gotten a lot better, so that's a little bit frustrating. It's pretty much the same as last week," Franklin said. "After playing a couple days ago and how it feels today, it doesn't really hurt any worse. I realize that I can potentially make it worse by getting hit or something, but throwing-wise, I think I need to unleash this week in practice. Although it's going to hurt, I know that from what it's shown in the past, it's not going to hurt any worse. That's one thing I need to start at the beginning of this week and not be bothered by it in the game."

Pinkel, once again, stood behind his starting quarterback on Monday.

"I think (Franklin) can play better, but I think he's doing okay," the coach said. "Any time you look at an offense, especially our offense, that is struggling, then you are going to point to the quarterback. What we do is we break everything down. We look at the receivers; we look at the offense line, and all of the other aspects of it. But I believe in him and expect him to get a lot better.

"When you're not moving the ball, you're going to question the play calling, you're going to question the long balls, you're going to question how many carries, you're going to question how well the offensive line's blocking. We all know that, we understand that. We're working hard to fix it."

Of course, the next step is translating the talk on to the field against Central Florida on Saturday night.

"I think it's something we'll have to prepare with in practice," Franklin said. "I know on Saturday, if something wouldn't go our way, on the sideline the offense would kind of, not more of a relaxed mood, but guys you could see were in the zone and they were really thinking about what happened and what they could have done differently instead of just reacting and kind of going out there and playing. I think that's something we'll have to work on in practice and definitely help each other and uplift each other more than we did last week."

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