Monday, August 19, 2013
Countdown to SEC kickoff: 10 days
By Chris Low
We're 10 days and counting until the SEC kicks it off with a Thursday night doubleheader. The Gamecocks take on North Carolina in the first game on Aug. 29, and then Ole Miss and Vanderbilt follow later that night from Nashville.
Most of the quarterback battles around the league have been settled. One of the more interesting ones was at Missouri, where senior James Franklin successfully re-established himself as the Tigers' starter.
That brings us to today's number: 21.
Franklin enters his senior season with 21 career starts. Only Georgia’s Aaron Murray (41) and Alabama’s AJ McCarron (27) have more at the quarterback position in the SEC. But while Murray and McCarron were firmly entrenched as starters, Franklin had to hold off a challenge from redshirt freshman Maty Mauk this preseason to win back his job. This is the third straight season that Franklin has opened as Missouri’s starting quarterback. But whereas his sophomore season was outstanding with 21 touchdown passes, 15 rushing touchdowns and 3,846 yards of total offense, his junior season a year ago was marred by injuries and inconsistency. Franklin was already coming off surgery to his right throwing shoulder entering last season and then proceeded to take a wicked beating from there. He missed three entire games and was knocked out of two others with a combination of shoulder and knee injuries and finally a concussion. Franklin accounted for just 10 touchdowns (zero rushing) and threw seven interceptions. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel made it known that the quarterback competition was wide open, and a healthy Franklin responded by calmly winning back his old job. The Tigers need him to stay healthy in 2013 and regain that same form that saw him come within 19 rushing yards of passing for 2,800 yards and rushing for 1,000 yards as a sophomore. A year ago, only Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel -- who won the Heisman Trophy -- put up those kind of numbers. Manziel finished with 3,706 passing yards and 1,410 rushing yards.