Missouri established itself as a legitimate player in the SEC with Saturday's road dismantling of No. 7 Georgia, but it came at an unfortunate price.
Dynamic senior quarterback James Franklin was forced from the game with an injured right shoulder, and according to head coach Gary Pinkel, via Gabe DeArmond at PowerMizzou.com, he is "almost certainly" out for next week's vital tilt with Florida:
Pinkel says Franklin almost certainly not back next week. "May be him for a while" regarding Maty Mauk.— Gabe DeArmond (@GabeDeArmond) October 12, 2013
CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman added this dreary update:
#Mizzou QB James Franklin is expected to be out for at least the next 6 wks, probably longer w a Grade 2 shoulder separation, per source.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) October 12, 2013
Franklin, who struggled with injuries in 2012—including one that required surgery to the same shoulder—has been transcendent in 2013. After Saturday's 41-26 win over Georgia, he has completed 67.5 percent of his throws for 1,576 yards, 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He has also run for another 290 and three scores.
His calm-yet-explosive presence under center has been a major part of Mizzou's going undefeated thus far, and as such, his injury really couldn't have come at a worse time.
Assuming Franklin is sidelined, how will next Saturday's important SEC contest play out?
That's because Florida is on tap.
The Gators boast one of the most ferocious defenses in the country. They entered Saturday second in America in yards per game allowed (217.0) and gave up just 17 points and 327 total yards to Cam Cameron's dynamic LSU offense.
And these Tigers—without Franklin, at least—aren't those Tigers offensively.
The weapons at the skill positions will still be there in Henry Josey, Dorial Green-Beckham and L'Damian Washington (just to name a few), but with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk under center, Missouri's offense takes a significant step back.
Mauk has talent, but a matchup with the aggressive Gators isn't ideal for his first-ever collegiate start.
Missouri's 2012 season was derailed by a countless number of injuries, and Pinkel's 2013 squad, off to an incredible start, now has a very tall task if it wants to avoid that happening again this year.