Pinkel backs Franklin in good times and bad

Jacob Bogage

Coach said his quarterback, if healthy, would have performed just as well in 2012.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Celebrating his team’s first Southeastern Conference win of the year in a 51-28 drubbing of Vanderbilt, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel conveyed a fiery validation of senior quarterback James Franklin, likening him to the nation’s best passers.

Embattled by injuries his junior season when he only started eight games, Franklin has returned to great acclaim his final year, leading the Tigers’ (5-0, 1-0 SEC) hurry-up offense to average 46.6 points per game.

“If we’d have stayed healthy last year,” Pinkel said, wagging his finger, “he’d have played like this, very close to this a year ago. I really think he would have, so this doesn’t surprise me. Everybody’s going, ‘Wow,’ and all of a sudden, everybody loves James Franklin, but I loved him last year and his sophomore year.”

Pinkel was even more animated…

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