Missouri Football: Why James Franklin's Production Will Make or Break Tigers

Adam SpencerCorrespondent IJune 11, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 26:  Quarterback James Franklin #1 of the Missouri Tigers passes as he is persued by linebacker Malcolm Walker #44 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the game on November 26, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium  in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Missouri Tigers will be taking their talents to the SEC in 2012, much to the chagrin of many Big 12 members.

But, that's in the past now; it's time to focus on the future. A future in the SEC is going to be much tougher for the Tigers.

However, with solid production from one player in particular, 2012 might not be a lost season. In fact, it could turn into a great season.

That player is quarterback James Franklin, who will be entering his second full year as a starter since taking over for Blaine Gabbert.

Franklin is a quarterback who can do everything on the football field, whether that's running the ball, throwing a short pass or launching a deep bomb.

In 2011, Franklin threw for 2,895 yards and 21 touchdowns, while throwing only 11 interceptions.

He also ran for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns for good measure.

If he can throw for more than 3,000 yards and run for more than 1,000 yards in 2012, the Tigers will be able to beat up on SEC bottom-feeders like Kentucky and Vanderbilt and will be competitive against teams like Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

He's already one of the top three quarterbacks in the SEC, along with Tyler Wilson and Aaron Murray. 2012 will prove whether he's ready to be an elite college quarterback.

If he is, the Tigers will do just fine and will make it to a decent bowl game. If he's not, the Tigers will struggle to become bowl eligible.

He has a great set of running backs to support him and a dynamic group of receivers to utilize. If the linemen can hold up against some ferocious SEC pass rushes, he'll have no excuse not to succeed.

2012 will be a make or break season for the Missouri football team. And, whether it's fair, most of that pressure will be squarely on Franklin's broad shoulders.