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Who will transform?

9/28/2012

The criticism has come strong and his confidence has been shaken.

Missouri quarterback James Franklin's chips are down right now, but that will all change Saturday -- bum shoulder and all.

After entering the league projected to be one of the most exciting players to watch in the SEC in 2012, Franklin's introduction to his new conference has been pretty rough. In his first two SEC games, he's passed for a combined 361 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He's also carried the ball 35 times for just 31 yards.

For someone who was one of the Big 12's top dual-threat quarterbacks, Franklin has looked far from intimidating running or throwing the football. He looked pretty comfortable through the first three quarters against Georgia, but everything changed when Jarvis Jones hit his throwing arm. He had far too much hesitation in his play last week against South Carolina.

Let's look at the Tigers' next opponent, Central Florida. The Knights have a pretty talented defense, but when they tangled with a run threat at quarterback in Ohio State's Braxton Miller, UCF allowed Miller to run all over its defense for 141 yards and three touchdowns. He also passed for 155 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Franklin has to like that, and it has to give his confidence a major boost.

His right shoulder might be hurting, but Franklin knows how to play through pain. He's done it for most of his Missouri career, and he's ready to prove himself again. He's ready to get back on the field and lead his team.

And he will.

We haven't seen the complete package from Franklin yet. He's extremely mobile and accurate with his passes. He can be a nightmare for defenses, but he has to get his confidence back. Against the Knights, in a tough road game, he'll do just that, which should spark this offense and this team.

The Franklin we saw dazzle at times on the playing field in 2011 should return this weekend, giving Mizzou the jolt it needs as it gears up for a string of SEC games.