14 Burning Questions for 2012: #10 – Missouri

14 SEC teams and 14 burning questions.  Today’s we take a look at Missouri.

So, just how good is James Franklin and can his success in the Big 12 translate to the SEC?

Take a look at the following statistical lines from last season for two of the returning quarterbacks in the SEC this year:

QB #1 – 238 of 403 passing, 59.1% completion ratio, 3,149 passing yards, 35 TD passes and 14 interceptions.  111 net rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs.
QB #2 – 238 of 376 passing, 63.3% completion ratio, 2,865 passing yards, 21 TD passes and 11 interceptions.  981 net rushing yards and 15 rushing TDs.

QB #1 is Aaron Murray of Georgia and QB #2 is Franklin.  Last year was Murray’s second season as UGA’s starting quarterback, while it was Franklin’s first.

I’ll be honest with you, these numbers surprised me quite a bit.  Murray is generally considered by most to be the second best quarterback in the league behind Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, but Franklin’s stats compare very favorably and, in some cases, are better than Murray’s.

Both completed 238 passes, but Murray need 27 more attempts.  That may not sound like much, but 27 passes represent about a game’s worth of tosses for Murray and accounts for his somewhat average 59.1% completion mark.  Franklin’s 63.3% completion ratio is impressive and even moreso for a first year starter.  Murray did throw for 284 more yards, but Franklin rushed for almost 1,000 yards.  And Murray did toss 35 touchdown passes compared to Franklin’s 21 (both would have been impressive numbers at Alabama), but Franklin also rushed for 15 touchdowns.

All in all, Franklin accounted for almost 600 more yards than Murray and just one less touchdown (37 to 36).

I know Franklin’s numbers were accumulated in the almost defenseless Big 12, but I’m impressed.  There will be a difference in the defenses for Franklin, but with these numbers, I think he’s shown that his play should translate well to the SEC.  A guy that posts these kind of numbers knows how to play and he knows how to run the offense for his team.  Those are the kinds of qualities that I think will translate well to the SEC.  (For example, I don’t think the 2011 quarterbacks for Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Kentucky, etc. would have fared as well in the Big 12 as Franklin did.)

Of course, Franklin is coming back from off season shoulder surgery and how well he heals will definitely affect his play.  But at this point, a full recovery is expected for 2012.

Missouri doesn’t have the toughest schedule in the conference – being assigned to the East sure helped, but they have a full load.  Beginning on September 8th, the Tigers face a stretch of Georgia, Arizona State, South Carolina, Central Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama.  That’s a tough little six game stretch.  In November, the Tigers also face Florida, Tennessee, Syracuse and Texas A&M.  All together, Missouri has a schedule with only one cupcake – Southeast Louisiana.  Like I said, the Tigers have a full load.

But having a healthy quarterback like Franklin back is also a big deal.  Record-wise, I think Missouri will take a step back from last year, but if Franklin continues his upward arc, who knows?