Franklin Hopes to Rebound Against Texas A&M
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- James Franklin is coming off a forgettable game. He gets a chance to do something about it on Saturday.
Missouri's sophomore quarterback threw three interceptions and lost a fumble at the Oklahoma State 4 in a 45-24 loss to the Cowboys last week. Franklin was 14 for 27 for 184 yards, his second-lowest yardage total of the year. He's thrown five interceptions the past two weeks.
Normally jovial and polite, Franklin was upset with himself for missing open receivers and for his footwork. On Monday, he posted an apology to fans on Facebook.
"I'm a big thinker," Franklin said. "I was thinking about it a lot. I know the guys are going to tell me I didn't, but I just feel like I let them down. And to have the record we have now, it just doesn't show how hard the guys have worked."
Missouri (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) hasn't been below .500 this late in a season since 2004. The Tigers travel to No. 16 Texas A&M this weekend to face a defense that leads the nation with an average of four sacks per game.
"Certainly, especially for a young quarterback, you're always concerned about them not taking on too much themselves," coach Gary Pinkel said. "He's the kind of guy that would do that because that's the type of person he is, so we've got to help him through that."
Pinkel pointed out that two of Franklin's interceptions Saturday were tipped at the line of scrimmage, and that he has only had four tipped balls in 216 passing attempts. Pinkel attributed one interception to a lineman not getting his defender's hands down, and that the fumble may have been avoided had the offensive line not missed a block.
"There are breakdowns in other areas, and what we do is we make sure he understands those," Pinkel said.
Franklin said the best way to regain confidence after a loss is to practice well. He said "probably half the team" has given him words of encouragement headed into Saturday's game against the Aggies (5-2, 3-1).
"You don't really see it out on the field," wide receiver T.J. Moe said. "He doesn't really wear his heart on his sleeve out there. He really cares about everybody. So when he feels he's not doing his best, it eats at him."
Midway through his first year as a starter, Franklin is trying to live up to expectations at a position whose three previous occupants -- Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert -- are in the NFL. Despite Missouri's record, Franklin is averaging 302 yards total offense, 15th best in the country, and 63 yards rushing.
Part of Franklin's relative obscurity can be attributed to the conference he plays in. He's sixth best in the Big 12.
"Next year and the year after, I'm always going to be learning," Franklin said. "This is definitely a big experience to learn from, and I think the most important thing is dealing with adversity."
Offensive coordinator Dave Yost, who also coaches quarterbacks, said Franklin needs to concentrate on consistency. The more snaps he takes, the better he'll get.
"I tell him all the time," Yost said. "A bad play does not make a bad player."
Yost doesn't believe Franklin is putting too much pressure on himself, and tells the quarterback he shouldn't think he has to be perfect.
"We're constantly working on building his confidence up, but he knows he's capable of everything we ask him to do," Yost said. "It's just a matter of him going out and doing it and the guys around him helping him as much as they can. It's not a one-man show by any stretch."