COLUMBIA — James Franklin showed up to media day Monday with scrapes at the top of his nose and in the outside corner of his left eye.
The scrapes, he said, were from having his helmet ripped off during Saturday's 41-20 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs. His helmet came off twice in the game.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel sarcastically wondered how it happened.
"I don't know how it got off. I'm sure our players didn't take it off. I'm sure he didn't take it off," Pinkel said. "And so, it just happened."
Franklin knows how it happened.
The first time, his shoulder pads got pushed up and popped his helmet off. The second time, he says, it was pulled off by a defender.
Both times, the junior quarterback had to leave the field for one play, as the new NCAA rule requires players to do when their helmet comes off during a play.
"So it's critical, though," Pinkel said. "Obviously, the helmet's getting ripped off in piles. All of a sudden, you put your backup quarterback in."
Pinkel acknowledged Franklin's mistakes but added praise for the quarterback, who completed 25 of his 41 passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Pinkel became impassioned as he spoke about the added challenges for Franklin. In a game in which Franklin was fielding bad snaps and facing pass rushers like Jarvis Jones with a makeshift offensive line, missing plays was the last thing Franklin needed.
"That's not easy. And he would never say that," Pinkel said. "And we're all going to have to live with it. And it doesn't matter, either. But I'm just trying to tell you, the lack of continuity affects that position."
Just as Pinkel predicted, Franklin didn't say anything about how the adjusting offensive line might have affected his play. He says that after senior captain Elvis Fisher went out with an injury, he didn't see much difference when he dropped back to pass, even though there were several changes.
Sophomore Mitch Morse moved to right tackle from center. Junior Justin Britt moved to Fisher's spot at left tackle from right tackle, and redshirt freshman Brad McNulty came in at center.
True freshman Evan Boehm and redshirt junior Max Copeland were the only two lineman who stayed in place.
But Franklin only sees areas where he can improve.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter against Georgia, Franklin dropped back to pass on third and 11 with his team down 24-20.
L'Damian Washington, who had scored a touchdown earlier on a 69-yard pass from Franklin, was open deep again.
Franklin quickly fired a pass, but it was behind Washington and over his head. The quarterback said, based on the coverage, he anticipated that Washington would go further downfield.
"I could have waited a little bit longer, and I did have protection, so that's something I could have seen," he said.
Franklin said if he would have waited, he wouldn't have needed to anticipate where Washington would go to hit him with a pass "because it was so open."
The problem is that Franklin felt like he didn't have the time to wait. The Georgia defense had created enough pressure early in the game to cause Franklin to rush.
"I felt pressure that wasn't there," Franklin said. "And so, then I would try and anticipate to an extent that would be very hard to anticipate, and I would have to be perfect every time."
According to his coach, continuity on the offensive line will help the quarterback settle in. But according to Franklin, it's on him to improve when the Tigers take on the Arizona State Sun Devils at 6 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
"I kind of just hurt myself in the throwing game," Franklin said. "I definitely missed a couple by a little bit."
"I'll get 'em next time."
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.