With Missouri’s season opener only days away, coach Gary Pinkel took another opportunity to publicly back senior quarterback James Franklin.
“He’s 100 percent healthy and he really had a great spring,” Pinkel said during the Southeastern Conference football coaches’ teleconference on Wednesday. “We just kept it open because that’s how we handle those things when the quarterback is not established.”
Franklin, of course, had a breakout 2011 season in which he accounted for nearly 4,000 yards and 36 touchdowns his first year as a starter. His junior campaign was much more difficult, however, as he struggled with injuries and saw those numbers plummet.
Pinkel made Franklin earn the job back after the season, and Franklin proceeded to hold off redshirt freshman Maty Mauk and sophomore Corbin Berkstresser throughout the spring and summer to be named Missouri’s starter for the Aug. 31 season opener against Murray State.
“I’m a James Franklin fan,” Pinkel said. “I think he can be a great player and he’s got people around him to help him.”
• Pinkel, 61, also took an opportunity to state how excited he is about the season. He wanted to make it clear that his enthusiasm for the job has not waned, despite being a Division I head coach for the better part of 23 years.
“This is what it’s all about, this is what you work for from the middle of January all the way down (to now),” Pinkel said. “My intensity isn’t down after 23 years. Coming off a difficult year … there’s no question about it, I can’t want to get going this year. I like to win and we’ve got a chance to get out and compete again, so excited about getting going.”