Springfield, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Mizzou’s offense continued to roll in a 45-28 win over Indiana on Saturday, and much of that is thanks to the play of a healthy senior quarterback in James Franklin.
Franklin’s strong start has him sitting at 11th in the NCAA in total offense through three games at 351.7 yards per game, which included a career-best 404 yards of total offense last Saturday.
The fast start may come as a surprise to some after he suffered through an injury-plagued junior season, but this kind of performance is something head coach Gary Pinkel knew Franklin had in him.
"I thought James was going to be a great quarterback. Coming off shoulder surgery, it all changed a little bit, but it does not surprise me at all. I know it (his start) surprises a lot of people out there,” Pinkel said. “He came off a great sophomore year. We are really consistent with the sophomores we have. But I am going to say it again so it is clear. I had more injuries with James in one year than I did in quarterback injuries combined in my 21 years of coaching. It certainly was not a lack of effort on his part."
Getting healthy has been key for Franklin, but the experience that comes with being a senior has helped immensely this season as well.
"It seems like a lot has slowed down. It is like I needed contacts until now. It just seems like your mind works a lot faster, and more thoughts are going through my head,” Franklin said. “For example, different possibilities on a certain throw. I think things like should I back shoulder this, make it a jump ball, etc. Those are the things that go through my head."
Franklin has also been a threat in Tigers’ 17th ranked rushing attack. Russell Hansbrough and Henry Josey lead the way with 239 and 186 rushing yards, respectively, but Franklin is right there with 182 yards on the ground to go with his 873 through the air.
“I like to see him run. He is a playmaker, and a fun kid to watch,” senior wide receiver Marcus Lucas said. “When he is running and scrambling out, it is fun to try to get into scramble drill mode and things like that."
Whether he is scrambling or passing from the pocket, Franklin’s decision-making this season is improved as well.
"James has taken a lot of time this offseason doing a lot of reads, and not centering or predetermining who he is going to throw to,” Lucas said. “He has done a good job of letting it come to him during the game, and I think that is helping him out. He is really relaxed back there and not overdoing anything."
Mizzou returns home with its eight-ranked scoring offense to take on Arkansas State (2-2) this Saturday.
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