University of Missouri

Mizzou’s Pinkel says Franklin sprained shoulder, will miss three to five weeks

Updated: 2013-10-15T16:30:10Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

— Missouri quarterback James Franklin has a sprained throwing shoulder and will miss three to five weeks, coach Gary Pinkel said Monday during his weekly news conference.

Franklin left in the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ 41-26 victory at No. 7 Georgia on Saturday and initial reports by ESPN and CBS Sports said he had suffered a Grade II shoulder separation and would miss at least six weeks.

ESPN said Franklin’s season was finished, but Pinkel refuted that dire prognosis.

“It’s a sprained shoulder,” Pinkel said. “That was on the injury report today. And I know I was getting injury reports on ESPN, which — where’d they come from? Anybody know?”

Franklin was injured early in the fourth quarter when he threw a ball away awkwardly near the sideline. Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins tackled Franklin after he flung the ball out of bounds, and driving Franklin’s right shoulder into the ground.

“I’ve watched (the hit),” said Franklin, who wore a padded sling as he spoke to reporters for the first time since the injury.

Franklin, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder in March 2012 and injured the same shoulder last year against the Bulldogs, smiled when asked if he thought it was clean: “It doesn’t matter.”

Believing he had only suffered a stinger, Franklin stayed in for one more play, a 4-yard run when he broke into the clear only to dart directly (and uncharacteristically) to the sideline as he realized the injury was more severe than a stinger.

“When we see James with a wide-open field and only two defenders in front of him, but all the sudden he sprints straight toward the sideline, we were drawn back and knew there was something wrong with James,” sophomore center Evan Boehm said.

Franklin’s knee injury last year helped derail the Missouri’s first season in the SEC, but he said he believes the Tigers are better equipped to deal with his absence.

Pinkel believes Missouri dwelled on injuries too much last season and vowed not to let it happen again, while Franklin’s teammates seemed determined to rally around backup quarterback Maty Mauk.

“It’s heartbreaking and we feel for him, but we’ve got a season to play still,” senior left tackle Justin Britt said. “We can’t dwell on it right now.”

That’s especially true for Franklin, who will be asked to mentor Mauk, a redshirt freshman from Kenton, Ohio.

Making his first college start, Mauk will lead No. 14 Missouri against No. 22 Florida, which boasts the Southeastern Conference’s best defense, at 11:21 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.

“James Franklin is a valuable resource,” Tigers associate head coach/quarterback coach Andy Hill said. “James has a great attitude about trying to help this football team. James is still a senior captain, and he’s put a lot of work and invested a lot of time in this football team. He’s going to be all-in trying to help everybody, including Maty.”

It’s not the role Franklin, who is sixth in the SEC with a 156.2 pass efficiency rating, would prefer, but it’s one he will embrace.

“Getting frustrated or sad about it’s not really going to change anything,” Franklin said. “It definitely stinks, especially my senior year, but it’s something I can’t do anything about. I can only help my teammates out … (and) I don’t have any doubt that they can still win.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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