Two games in, James Franklin looks very sophomore-esque; now he must continue to play that way
By BEN FREDERICKSONFS Kansas City
This is the James Franklin Mizzou fans remember.
Through two games, the senior quarterback has cruised. So far, one interception -- an incredibly off-target pass that slipped from Franklin's grip and landed in the hands of a Toledo defender Saturday -- has been the only major flaw.
"He's a very talented guy," Pinkel said after the Tigers (2-0) beat Toledo 38-23. "We all know that. Shoot, remember his sophomore year? What a heck of a sophomore year he had for being a first-year starter. It's great to see him play the way he's been playing."
Franklin has completed 42 of 63 passes (66.7 percent) for 530 yards and four touchdowns. His passer rating (155.1) is currently higher than it has ever been at a season's end. And he has already run 23 times for 121 yards -- one yard less than his 2012 rushing total.
So far, so good. The key will be to keep it up, especially in Southeastern Conference play.
Something serious to monitor through Mizzou's bye week will be the status of starting left guard Max Copeland. The senior left Saturday's game with a high ankle sprain. He later returned but was hobbling noticeably before and after plays.
Copeland, a former walk-on, is a tough kid. He scratched out a starting role on a team that didn't know who he was. In doing so, he became a leader.
He will play if he can, but a high ankle sprain can be as painful as a broken leg. And sometimes they take even take longer to heal.
STRUGGLE WITH THE SCREEN
Murray State turned to screen passes for a sizable chunk of its 262 passing yards Saturday. After the game, Pinkel addressed the obvious weakness.
"We weren't covering it very good," he said. "And if I had an answer for it, pal, I would have fixed it a lot quicker than what we did."
"There's no question about it," he continued. "We had a lot of trouble with that perimeter part, what we call perimeter run support. Those screens are like sweeps -- same thing. We had trouble with it."
Mizzou corner E.J. Gaines didn't seem too concerned.
"It's something we still need to work on," he said. "We've worked on it a lot, but we need to get better. ... When we get in SEC play, that's not something SEC teams do."
They will if they know the Tigers can't stop it.
PLAN FOR MAUK
Get used to small doses of Maty Mauk. The backup quarterback has twice started the Tigers' first drive of the second quarter, and Pinkel plans on continuing this, likely for the rest of the season, regardless of the score.
"We decided we are going to put him in in the first series of the second quarter, let him play," Pinkel said. "We will probably do that, and continue to do that. Let him get some playing time. I don't think he got a whole lot of help when he was in there. But it's good for him to get out there and get going."
So far the redshirt freshman has completed 2 of 3 passes for 18 yards. He also was sacked twice for a loss of 15 yards.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Max Copeland, on his injury: "Hell, man. It's tough, but I'm tough. I'm the Montana Madman, baby. That ain't nothing but a thing."