By the Associated Press
Missouri quarterback James Franklin says there’s a 90 percent chance he’ll start this week at South Carolina.
Franklin sat out the Tigers’ 24-20 victory over Arizona State on Saturday because of inflammation in his right shoulder. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound junior before the game in full uniform and was announced as the starter by the public address announcer, but instead donned a cap and headset at kickoff.
Franklin said it was his decision not to play, and that he told offensive coordinator Dave Yost 10 minutes before the game he didn’t know if he’d be able to throw effectively.
“I felt a little torn about it because I did want to help my teammates out, but at the same time, I just didn’t feel comfortable with it,” he said.
Freshman Corbin Berkstresser learned he would be starting about 5 minutes before kickoff, and threw for 198 yards with an interception on 21-of-41 passing. Franklin has thrown for 400 yards and three touchdowns with an interception in two games this season.
Franklin was injured when Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones hit his arm. Franklin immediately felt pain, but it subsided enough the following day for him to tell coach Gary Pinkel he was OK.
After practicing, however, Franklin realized the inflammation was still severe enough to keep him limited during the week. He didn’t think about sitting out until two days before Saturday’s game.
Offered a cortisone shot to relieve the pain, Franklin refused. Yost wasn’t surprised or bothered by the decision, because Franklin hasn’t taken one in the past.
“When he tells me it’s hurting enough that he doesn’t think he’s able to be effective as a quarterback, I know it must be really painful because otherwise he’d be out there,” Yost said.
Pinkel emphatically refuted Monday speculation that Franklin’s decision to not take the shot and play meant the quarterback wasn’t committed to the team.
“Anybody that questions James Franklin’s toughness, they have to have been in a coma for the last two years,” he said. “He’s one of the toughest athletes I’ve ever been around.”
Franklin started 15 consecutive games before Saturday. The previous time Missouri switched quarterbacks during a season was 2001, Pinkel’s first season with the Tigers. Brad Smith started every game from 2002-05, Chase Daniel followed for three seasons and Blaine Gabbert didn’t miss a start from 2009-10.
Franklin underwent surgery in March to repair a torn labrum, causing him to miss most of spring camp, but said he was fully recovered during August practices. Last week, he echoed those comments, saying that he ran “smarter” against Georgia, but was still healthy.
Yost said the team would likely call fewer running plays involving Franklin should he return, which is predicated upon Franklin’s ability to throw in practice this week.
Linebacker Zaviar Gooden and offensive lineman Jack Meiners are both fully expected back for the Tigers after hamstring and knee injuries, respectively. Meiners played sparingly Saturday in a reserve role.
Receiver Rolandis Woodland is questionable with a hamstring injury. He did not play against Arizona State.
The Tigers face South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday with a scheduled time of 2:30 p.m. CDT.