After watching banged-up quarterback James Franklin take the field to finish out Saturday's 33-10 win over Kentucky, a number of Missouri Tigers players spoke of the instant boost the junior quarterback provided at the team's official press conference.
"Just seeing him want to be out there and then the coaches telling him it's OK for him to go out and play," tailback Kendial Lawrence said. "It was a huge lift for our team."
Injured in a game against Vanderbilt back on Oct. 6, Franklin completed 6 of 9 passes for 16 yards in relief of ineffective starter Corbin Berkstresser against the Wildcats on Saturday. Though head coach Gary Pinkel revealed that he hoped all along to use Franklin in a few late-game situations to test out his sprained knee, Berkstresser's mediocre performance made the decision much, much easier on the veteran coach.
Despite the coaching staff's initial plan, some Missouri players did not realize that Franklin would actually be getting on the field against Kentucky until it materialized. "I didn't know," freshman wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham said. "But when he got in it was big for us and for him. It was nice to see what he could do after his injury."
Now that he appears to ready to handle a full workload under center, Franklin will likely be given the keys to the offense as expected heading into a dangerous showdown with the Florida Gators in Week 10. The Tigers could move above .500 overall for the first time in October with an upset victory, but will surely have their hands full with or without Franklin against a stout Florida defense.