Originally feared to be lost for the season, Missouri quarterback James Franklin will miss three to five weeks with a grade two shoulder separation, coach Gary Pinkel said at the Tiger Quarterback Club Monday (via The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter).
Franklin’s magnum opus was cut short in the fourth quarter Saturday at Sanford Stadium when he was hit awkwardly by a pair of Georgia defenders. He was forced out of the game — which Mizzou won, 41-26 — and gave way to redshirt freshman Maty Mauk, who will start for the Tigers this Saturday against No. 22 Florida in Columbia.
Losing Franklin no doubt is a massive blow to Missouri’s shot at winning the SEC East, as the senior is third in the SEC in total offense and has accounted for 17 touchdowns (14 passing, three rushing). But if Franklin is able to return in that three-to-five week timetable, he could be back for Mizzou’s Nov. 23 road game at Ole Miss or the Tigers’ regular season finale Nov. 30 vs. Texas A&M in Columbia.
In the meantime, it’ll be Mauk for Mizzou, who rushed for 12 yards on three carries and completed all three pass attempts against Georgia for 23 yards. The key connection there was a 20-yard back-shoulder completion to Dorial Green-Beckham, which set up Henry Josey’s game-sealing touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Plenty has been made about Mauk’s chemistry with Green-Beckham, as the pair came to Columbia in 2012 after setting national prep records for passing and receiving yardage.
The SEC East, all of a sudden, runs through Columbia, Mo., in the next two weeks with the Tigers hosting Florida and South Carolina, both of which have 3-1 SEC records. Just about everyone in the SEC East is banged up — Florida RB Matt Jones is out for the season, while Pinkel said top Tigers CB E.J. Gaines is questionable for Saturday — so the division crown may come down to which team deals with injuries the best.
For Mizzou, that means getting passable performances out of Mauk. No pressure, kid.