A year ago, Missouri took the podium on in Hoover, Alabama for their first SEC Media Days, and clearly were full of confidence, with a chip on their shoulder.
True Son TJ Moe got everyone’s attention last year with fun, bold and even fearless comments, such as:
- “The air is warmer, they say girls are prettier here and the toilet paper is thicker.”
- “The Southeastern Conference isn’t really southeastern. We’re about as Midwestern as it gets. We’re the gateway to the west and we’re hanging out in the Southeast somewhere. This is like the bottom-right fourth conference. That’s what it is when you draw a line? People get confused with directions.”
- “I don’t think we’re 5-year-old kids running around without a helmet. I think we can compete. You’ve got quarterbacks who are always up for Heisman in the Big 12, and that’s not always true about the SEC. Part of that is due to the fact that SEC defenses are better. It’s also due to the fact that Big 12 offenses are quite a bit better.”
And then there was Sheldon Richardson calling Georgia’s style of play, “old-man football.”
Well, maybe Missouri was a little over-confident, as they finished 5-7 – their first losing season in nine years – as the Tigers had won eight games six years in a row (it had been done just six times in 36 years previously) – one of just nine programs to do so – when entering the league.
A year later, the tone has changed for the Tigers. They seemed to be all about business.
“We’re used to winning,” head coach Gary Pinkel said.
But, don’t get confused, the Mizzou contingent of Pinkel and seniors – linebacker Andrew Wilson, wide receiver L’Damian Washington and quarterback James Franklin – walked the walk and talked the talk, displaying lost of confidence.
But, there was a “oh, shit, a foot in the mouth moment,” still, when Franklin, when asked how SEC fans treated him last season, said, “Well actually, the rudest fans that I experienced were Mizzou, my own fans. I really don’t try to pay attention to that stuff, but…I’d say I heard some pretty not-so-nice comments from my own fans.”
He would not comment on what it was that he heard. But, as you can imagine, his comments spread like wildfire amongst Missouri and non-Missouri fans alike. Some fans took his comments as another sign he is just not their guy. Others understand that Franklin reads the message boards and just like every other MU fan and they understand why he would say what he said.
After realizing the stir that he had caused, Franklin clarified, “I don’t know why everyone is freaking out, haha. I said the rudest fans I encountered last year were Mizzou fans because the comments they made at me. I was not complaining, I simply answered the question truthfully. I love Mizzou fans, they’re great! And I understand exactly why they said rude things towards me…I didn’t perform well and that’s frustrating! I’m sorry.”
Let’s face the facts. What Franklin did was tell the truth. Missouri fans who get upset with that, need to get over it. If Franklin plays well there will be feature stories written about how he won back the fans. If he does not play well he will be booed like the rest of the team.
Pinkel taking Franklin with him to Hoover seems to be a very strong indication that Franklin will start Aug. 31 in the season-opener against Murray St (which he will, as I have claimed all along), although Pinkel said its not about that, but indicative of his character and being great representative of the program. Take those words with a grain of salt. He mentioned any other QB besides Franklin and also said, “James is the starter going in. He had a real good spring. We’ll see how it unfolds and make the final decision in the middle of the month sometime. And maybe we won’t have to make a final decision, maybe it will take care of itself. We’ll see what happens.”
Here is a look at the depth chart:
LT — Justin Britt, Sr. (6-6/320)
Anthony Gatti, Jr. (6-6/315)
LG — Max Copeland, Sr. (6-3/295)
Mitch Hall, Soph. (6-5/320)
C — Evan Boehm, Soph. (6-3/315)
Brad McNulty, Soph. (6-4/305)
RG — Connor McGovern, Soph. (6-4/315)
Nick Demien, Jr. (6-6/300)
RT — Mitch Morse, Jr. (6-5/305)
Taylor Chappell, Soph. (6-5/320)
TE — Sean Culkin, Fr. (6-6/240)
Eric Waters, Sr. (6-4/245)
QB — James Franklin, Sr. (6-2/230)
Maty Mauk, Fr. (6-1/200)
Corbin Berkstresser, Soph. (6-3/225)
TB — Henry Josey, Jr. (5-10/190)
Russell Hansbrough, Soph. (5-9/185)
Marcus Murphy, Jr. (5-9/185)
X-WR — Marcus Lucas, Sr. (6-5/220)
Dorial Green-Beckham, Soph. (6-6/220)
H-WR — Bud Sasser, Jr. (6-2/210)
Jimmie Hunt, Jr. (6-1/215)
Z-WR — L’Damian Washington, Sr. (6-4/200)
Jaleel Clark, Sr. (6-4/220)
DE — Michael Sam, Sr. (6-3/255)
Brayden Burnett, Sr. (6-2/245)
DT — Matt Hoch, Jr. (6-5/295)
Marvin Foster, Sr. (6-1/290)
NG — Lucas Vincent, Jr. (6-2/295)
Harold Brantley, Fr. (6-3/300)
DE — Kony Ealy, Jr. (6-5/275)
Shane Ray, Soph. (6-3/245)
WLB — Darvin Ruise, Jr. (6-1/245)
Kentrell Brothers, Soph. (6-1/235)
MLB — Andrew Wilson, Sr. (6-3/235)
Michael Scherer, Fr. (6-3/235)
SLB — Donovan Bonner, Sr. (6-1/240)
Clarence Green, Soph. (6-0/225)
CB — E.J. Gaines, Sr. (5-10/195)
David Johnson, Soph. (5-11/190)
CB — Randy Ponder, Sr. (5-10/190)
John Gibson, Fr. (5-11/185)
SS — Matt White, Sr. (6-0/195)
Ian Simon, Soph. (5-11/195)
FS — Braylon Webb, Jr. (6-0/205)
Cortland Browning, Soph. (6-1/210)
P — Christian Brinser, Jr. (6-1/200)
Blake Owens, Jr. (5-11/200)
PK — Andrew Baggett, Soph. (6-2/220)
Nick Coffman, Fr. (5-11/170)
Franklin, who suffered three injuries last year – a shoulder that he had shoulder surgery on in the offeseason, a MCL sprain and a concussion – forcing him to miss three games (1-2 record) and to get knocked out of two more games (Missouri was winning both and ended up losing both) and played at Florida (where he was great until the redzone, throwing four interceptions in what should have been a huge upset) well below 100%, also coming in to the Kentucky game at about 60% health as Corbin Berkstresser flirted with giving the game away. Now, he is 100% healthy, and Missouri’s offense will be noticeably improved this year, as a result. Remember, in 2011, Franklin led Missouri to an 8-5 record and narrowly missed a 3,000/1,000 season. Now, he is DONE and worthless? He was clearly hurt last year, and that is why Missouri struggled (the good news: If Franklin goes down, the Tigers will be in a much better position to win with Maty Mauk ready to come in, as opposed to Berkstresser, who will be a third-teamer the rest of his career.)
“He’s got an edge to him,” Pinkel said. “He’s a great competitor. He came off a very difficult year. He had more injuries and more things happen to him than any quarterback I’ve ever coached, and I’ve coached a lot of great quarterbacks, a lot of NFL quarterbacks I’ve been fortunate enough to coach. I never saw a guy go through what he did, not even close, not even ten percent of what happened to him, but he battled and battled.”
Pinkel said the decision on the QB competition will be announced by mid-August.
Franklin took the podium sporting a bow-tie – something that is very underrated but something that not everyone can pull off – and was asked about the “new” offense, that is supposed to feature a focus on the tight end, no empty backfields, more “under center” sets and even more use of the “pistol” formation.
“It’s kind of supposed to be a secret,” Franklin said. “We may or may not move the ball faster. I can give you a preview, like they do in the movies. We’re definitely trying to make the offense a little more — less complex. Just simplify things and that way we can get the ball moving a little bit faster, get lined up faster, just for when we need to.”
Said Franklin, “We’re just trying to make sure we get lined up quick enough to where we need to get a play off or hold for a little bit to see what the defense is doing, let Coach Henson do some thinking.”
Washington added that Missouri has five different tempos it can go offensively. Said they had two last year.
Pinkel was a little more coy.
“I don’t really want to talk about it,” Pinkel said. “I just want to let it play itself out, see where it goes. We’re still going to run a spread offense, but there’s a wide variety of spread offenses. I think we’ll look different in a lot of ways and the same in a lot of ways. I’m excited about doing that.”
He did, however (see how I used that Oxford comma), want to talk about Missouri’s “skill players,” “the [skill players], as far as our running backs, receivers, tight ends, are probably are the best group we’ve had, potentially, since 2007-2008,” he said – referencing Missouri’s “Glory Years” with Jeremy Maclin (Eagles), Danario Alexander (Chargers), Chase Coffman (Falcons), Martin Rucker and Tony Temple in what was one of the most dangerous offenses in the NATION.
“We’ve got some guys who can make plays,” Pinkel said. “But we’ve got to distribute the ball. That’s where the quarterback comes in and that’s why it’s so critical in our offense.”
He singed out sophomore receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the top recruit in the nation in last year’s class and a 2013 Bilentikoff (best WR in the nation) Award Watch lister.
DGB is No. 2 on the depth chart behind senior Marcus Lucas, although it likely doesn’t matter. Pinkel is and has always been loyal to veterans in regards to the depth chart. It does not mean that player will play more. DGB will be the leading receiver, just as we has in the spring – where he played primarily with the first team offense despite being listed second on the depth chart.
Pinke; said there’s a magic number of touches they’re hoping to get for Green-Beckham – just as they did with Maclin – this year and when he gets the ball in his hands, Missouri is better
Pinkel told the media that he is not going to have two-a-days to take strides to ensure the team will be healthy entering the season.
“We’re going to adjust our conditioning in August,” Pinkel said. “We’re not going to have any true two-a-days. We only had five before. I’m into recovery now.
“We’re going to back off our hitting. We have very physical practices, but we’re going to back off our hitting. I think there’s a little parallel to some things happening in the NFL, too.”
He continued, “Two years in a row with the most injuries you’ve ever had in 35 years of coaching. I want to do something to try and help that.”
He then singled out Franklin saying he’s “never seen a guy go through” what Franklin did last year physically. “Not even close.”
Pinkel refused to blame the season on the injuries, “If I had done a better job, we’d have won a couple more games.”
He also re-iterated that moving to the SEC was the best thing for the program, despite last season’s negative results.
“In case you have forgotten, we win at Mizzou,” he said. “It’s a great league. I love being in the league – competing against the best. We did the right thing.”
Pinkel added that he knows that his job could be on the line this year, “I love our fans with high expectation levels.”
- A few notes on the depth chart: The biggest changes are on the line, where Evan Boehm shifs over from left guard to center, with Mitch Morse moving to right tackle, Max “Rock-N-Roll” Copeland moving from left guard to right guard and Connor McGovern moving into a starting role – for now – at right guard. And how about Henry Josey being listed No. 1 at running back 20 months after a gruesome knee injury that threatened his career. With Hansbrough and Murphy listed behind him, that will be a very talented position for the Tigers for the years to come. Also, redshirt freshman Sean Culkin has moved passed Eric Waters at tight end.
- Missouri’s season-opener August 31 with Murray St at Faurot will be on pay-per-view (this is the last time this will happen, as the SEC Network debuts in 2014). Week 2’s showdown with Toldeo on Aug. 7 will be at 2:30 on ESPNU. Toledo plays back-to-back road games at Florida and Missouri to start the season.
- Florida’s Jeff Driskel was asked which quarterbacks he liked at the Manning Passing Academy. His first response was James Franklin.
- Had positive things to say about Franklin, Josey, RB/RS Marcus Murphy, Hansbrough and Hoch, in particular.
- Franklin on what he learned in Missouri’s first year in the SEC: “Mentally, we need to get a little bit stronger.”
- Also, when asked about Pinkel’s decision to take him to Hoover, Franklin smiled, saying he sees it as a positive step toward earning the QB job.
Washington has really been singing Franklin’s praises this summer, and he continued that today. He referred to himself as a “James Franklin Fan” multiple times.
Washington also had good things to say about freshmen WR J’Mon Moore and CB Aarion Penton. He said they’ve stood out during 7-on-7.
The Trib: SEC MEDIA DAYS: Notebook
PowerMizzou: Media Day Notebook
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Change coming?
Mizzou Network: Mizzou Players at 2013 SEC Media Day
We Are Mizzou: 2013 SEC Media Day Photos
Al.com: SEC Media Days: Missouri, July 16, 2013
Team Speed Kills: SEC Media Days 2013: Missouri Hopes That a Healthier Season is a Happier Season in the SEC
Team Speed Kills: SEC Media Days 2013: Day 1 Photo Gallery
Mr. SEC: VIDEO: Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel
Mr. SEC: VIDEO: Missouri Quarterback James Franklin
Mr. SEC: VIDEO: Missouri Linebacker Andrew Wilson
Mr. SEC: VIDEO: Missouri Wide Receiver L’Damian Washington
John Clay: VIDEO: Missouri’s James Franklin on disappointing 2012
Saturday Blitz: SEC Media Days: Missouri Seeks Its Place In The SEC
Mizzou Network: Mizzou Coach Pinkel at 2013 SEC Media Days
Al.com: Quick hits: Missouri coach Gary Pinkel at SEC Media Days
KC Star: Missouri’s Gary Pinkel has responded to pressure before
Post-Dispatch (Burwell): Pinkel is feeling the heat of SEC
The Trib: SEC MEDIA DAYS: James Franklin serious about a more successful ’13 for self, Missouri
Post-Dispatch: No funny business for Mizzou’s Franklin
KC Star: Missouri QB James Franklin works to put injury-filled season behind him
KC Star: MU’s James Franklin clarifies answer about rude comments from fans
The Missourian: Missouri’s Pinkel names Franklin starting quarterback at SEC Media Days
PowerMizzou: Reading the Signs
CBS Sports: Pinkel says Franklin enters fall camp as Mizzou’s No. 1 QB
Al.com: Missouri’s second chance at SEC might hinge on James Franklin’s shot at redemption
Post-Dispatch: SEC media days: Tigers don’t view DGB as backup
KC Star: Latest MU football depth chart: Josey to start at running backThe Trib: SEC MEDIA DAYS: Slive’s address full of NCAA questions
Al.com: SEC eyes relationships with about 10 or 11 bowls starting in 2014
Post-Dispatch: Slive urges NCAA to resolve player issues