TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback James Franklin #1 of the Missouri Tigers rushes the football for 18 yards past defensive lineman Bo Moos #61 of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the first quarter of the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 9, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Brighter days are ahead for Missouri football as Franklin gains more experience and confidence along the way.
The immediate emotion for Mizzou fans after the Tigers' 37-30 overtime loss to Arizona State is obviously not going to be a positive one. However, the long-term outlook after witnessing the display sophomore quarterback James Franklin put on against the Sun Devils is a bright one, indeed.
Franklin single-handedly kept the Tigers in a game that seemed to be getting away from them after the Sun Devils pulled up by 14 with just the fourth quarter to go. He led Mizzou on two touchdown drives in the final quarter and then had Missouri in a position to possibly win the game with a last-second field goal before kicker Grant Ressel's effort went wide left. In the end, Franklin had ran for 84 yards and a score and threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns. It was the confident effort Tigers fans needed after seeing his nervous effort last week against Miami (OH).
Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel was also impressed as he told the Associated Press, "I think this guy is going to be pretty special. I said that last week -- that is all I have to say. Are you kidding me? To make some of the plays he did in that game."
Franklin even got the attention of former Mizzou stars. Chase Daniel noted his performance via Twitter when he wrote, "Proud of my Mizzou Tigers regardless of the outcome last night! James Franklin with 403 total yards and 3 TD's...he was an absolute warrior." Basketball star Kim English noted, "Brad Smith.. Chase Daniel.. Blaine Gabbert..and Now James Franklin. I'm proud of the kid. Gonna do special things in Columbia."
Bigger tests are ahead for Franklin with the looming Big 12 schedule, but given the incredible turnout on the road at Arizona State, including the "blackout" in effect, Franklin showed that his in-game instincts are going to keep the Tigers competitive no matter where they go. Better yet, brighter days are ahead for Missouri football as Franklin gains more experience and confidence along the way.