Coach Gary Pinkel stressed after last Saturday’s disappointing loss to No. 7 South Carolina that junior James Franklin would remain his starting quarterback.
During his Monday press conference, Pinkel gave Franklin a vote of confidence.
“I think he can play better but I think he’s doing OK,” Pinkel said. “I believe in him, and I expect him to get better.”
Afterward, the quarterback spoke candidly Monday, opening up about his injury and its impact on his subpar start to the season, noting more so than anything else that his injured right shoulder has lowered his confidence.
“It’s not that I can’t do it — I’m just worried about doing it because the pain’s going to be there, and I doubt that I’ll be able to put something on this throw or be able to make this type of throw,” he said.
Franklin said the inflamed bursa sac in his throwing shoulder is unrelated to the torn labrum in the same shoulder he had surgery on in March.
“When I’m about to make a throw, I know it’s going to come, and I’m worried about hurting it worse,” Franklin said.
The pain is felt every throw, regardless of how deep the toss. The injury has played a part in the offense taking so few shots down the field, Franklin said.
Offensive coordinator David Yost’s play-calling hasn’t disregarded the long ball, Franklin said. The defense has either been taking away that route or Franklin has progressed past that read too quickly.
“I think they’ve been there — it’s just we haven’t been hitting them as much,” Franklin said.
After Corbin Berkstresser filled in for Franklin in Missouri’s 24-20 third-week victory over Arizona State, clamoring by some for the redshirt freshman to replace Franklin began.
But with Franklin feeling better, Berkstresser was once again relegated to the bench, where he watched the Tiger offense struggle mightily against the Gamecocks.
“As any other player would, you want to go out there,” Berkstresser said. “It’s definitely difficult to sit over there and watch our offense struggle like that and be at a stalemate, especially when I know what our offense is capable of.”
Berkstresser leading the Tigers on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in relief of Franklin did nothing to quell desires for a permanent change at the position.
“It was more of the defense than anything,” Berkstresser said. “I knew I was going up against their No. 2 defense, so it was a lot different than what James (Franklin) saw.”