Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

MU Wants Franklin to Avoid the Big Hits; Tigers Are Aware They Will Be Face Some Better Defenses This Season

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

MU Wants Franklin to Avoid the Big Hits; Tigers Are Aware They Will Be Face Some Better Defenses This Season

Article excerpt

Missouri receiver T.J. Moe is withholding comment on the expectation that the Tigers are entering a new world of increased physical abuse when it comes to facing Southeastern Conference defenses.

He wants to see for himself - better yet feel for himself - before rendering a decision. The first test will come soon enough when Mizzou makes its SEC debut against Georgia on Sept. 8.

But when it comes to James Franklin, coach Gary Pinkel will be preaching a different approach when camp opens Thursday in Columbia. When possible, he wants his quarterback to steer clear of one-on- one combat and opt for self preservation.

"We told him at the end of the year, fourth-and-one, third-and- one 'I want you to compete. Go get it,' " Pinkel said. "Other than that, you learn to go down, you learn not to take the big hit.

"They show us that run he had against Texas A&M where he runs over three defenders. That's a great sign of leadership, competitiveness. But that also hurts our football team, OK?"

Recovering from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss most of spring practice, Franklin will be treated with extra care in August. And knowing what awaits, Pinkel's advice seems sound.

Of the eight SEC teams on the Mizzou schedule, four finished 2011 among the top eight in the country in total defense. Six were among the top 30 and all were in the upper 50 percent nationally.

Up first is Georgia and its nine returning defensive starters from a unit that ranked No. 5.

"People say they're more physical, and I can't tell you from experience yet," Moe said of the SEC. "I'll be able to tell you Sept. 8, I guess. I think that it's just a little bit different style of football."

Franklin's progress over the next month will be critical in determining how well the Tigers are able to handle those defenses. If for some reason he is unable to go, Mizzou would turn to redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser, who saw most of the snaps in the spring.

Pinkel said the expectation is for the junior to be 100 percent. …

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