Franklin a problem, but the whole offense the big issue -

Franklin a problem, but the whole offense the big issue

COLUMBIA, Mo. (Missouri Football App) -- Missouri was 15th best in total offensive yards in 2011 , but this year has started out much different. The 2012 version has shown just how lackluster the Tigers’ offense can be and things need to change.

I understand that they’re playing tougher defenses in the Southeastern Conference, but that’s only a small issue to consider.  The bigger problem is how the coaching staff has not adjusted offensive play calling entering the SEC.

So far in 2012, Mizzou is ranked 81st in total yards.  It’s early in the season, but with more and more games against above-average defenses in the SEC, Mizzou could be in for some trouble.

Many critics are blaming junior quarterback James Franklin.  I think Franklin has vastly underperformed this season, but only part of it is his fault.  For one, the offensive line has been nothing less than invisible, allowing defensive lineman to apply pressure at will.  Franklin needs more time in the pocket to make a good throw.

Some people are talking about replacing Franklin with freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser.  Berkstresser played against Arizona State and finished with 198 yards passing and no touchdowns.

Franklin needs to remain the starter because of his skill-set.  He’s an average thrower but is an above-average running quarterback.  Typically, quarterbacks who can throw average and run above average have done well in college football.  Mizzou utilized Franklin’s speed in 2011, but the team’s struggled to produce points in 2012.

What’s really troubling the Tiger offensive is play call.  I know Mizzou’s offense was near the top in the nation in 2011, but things need to change.  Teams in the SEC are usually better than Big 12 teams when it comes to defense.  Mizzou’s spread offense may have worked in the Big 12 but has been shut down against SEC teams.

Mizzou has only two running plays.  I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen Franklin receive the snap and hand the ball off to in-motion senior running back Kendial Lawrence, who gets stopped immediately for either a short loss of yards or a gain of very few.  The other play Mizzou continues to run is the same play, except instead of handing the ball off to Lawrence, Franklin keeps the ball and runs for very few yards.

Those plays were effective in the Big 12, but that will rarely work against SEC defenses.  It’s proven to be ineffective after two games against SEC opponents and could get worse if things don’t change.

I’d like to see more passing plays on first down as opposed to running those same two plays on first and second down, which leaves the team in long third down situations.  Mizzou is underutilizing their wide receivers.  The Tigers have several tall, fast and talented receivers that continue to be overlooked.

So all the people that say Franklin should be benched need to relax. He’s a productive quarterback when the play call is better. So far the coaching staff has been calling very conservative plays and that directly affects how people view Franklin.

I think Franklin’s had a share of his own personal mishaps so far this season, but benching a dual-threat quarterback for freshman Berkstresser is not the answer.  Change the conservative, predictable and ineffective play call and we should see if Franklin is the problem.

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