Franklin looking to bounce back from 4-INT loss


Franklin looking to bounce back from 4-INT loss

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) James Franklin could hardly muster a smile following Missouri's loss at Florida, his normally jovial personality subdued by the feeling he had cost his team a chance to knock off the seventh-ranked Gators.

Days later, the junior quarterback still struggled to put the game, and his four interceptions, behind him. Franklin completed 24 of 51 passes, citing bad footwork and rushed passes for overthrowing several receivers.

Franklin says he needs to build up confidence after missing most of the Tigers' previous three games recovering from a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He dealt with similar issues after sitting out a game earlier this season with an inflamed bursa sac in his throwing shoulder.

``He takes a lot on himself,'' Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said. ``That's just the way he is, the way his personality is. He's like a football coach. There's enough people beating you up out there without beating yourself up.''

What's perhaps most frustrating for Franklin is that the offense had one of its best overall performances this season, running 86 plays and gaining 23 first downs against the nation's fifth-stingiest defense. Missouri (4-5, 1-5) was the first Southeastern Conference opponent to reach the end zone at Florida in 2012 and held the ball for nearly 34 minutes.

But despite their final six drives ending in Gators territory, the Tigers couldn't score and lost 14-7. Franklin led the team 59 yards down the field with less than two minutes remaining to set up a game-tying score, but overthrew receivers near the goal line on consecutive plays to end the threat.

``In the game, I feel like I have less time than I actually do, and so that's why I think I end up rushing at the end,'' Franklin said.

Several players consoled him afterward, telling him to keep his head up and that football's a team game - no one player can be fully responsible.

``Anytime you prepare for something so hard, and you go out there and you spend all the time that we do, in the offseason, in conditioning, in lifting, in practicing, in the hours that we put in here, you go out there and you lose a game and you feel like maybe you let the team down,'' offensive lineman Elvis Fisher said. ``If it doesn't hurt, there might be something wrong with you.''

Coaches fully believe in Franklin after watching him throw for 2,865 yards and run for another 981 during the 2011 season. Expectations rose this season as Missouri entered the SEC, but Franklin didn't start throwing until August after having surgery in the spring to repair a torn labrum.

``I don't care if people are tired of hearing it, but the guy's been through an awful lot,'' Pinkel said.

Franklin looks to recover against Tennessee, which gives up the most yards per game (483) and has recorded the fewest sacks (12) in the SEC. The defense has been vulnerable against mobile quarterbacks, and coordinator Sal Sunseri thinks Franklin brings the same threat.

``If you go with this kid's history and what he's done, he's a very, very good football player,'' he said. ``He's got great legs. He can deliver the ball. They've got a great system. He just had a bad day.''

Missouri needs to win two of its final three games to become bowl-eligible for the eighth consecutive season. But at least one of those must come on the road, where the Tigers have yet to win a conference game this season.

Franklin will likely start the rest of the way provided he remains healthy, as backup redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser has struggled to gain any traction in relief appearances and third-stringer Maty Mauk is redshirting.

``The best way to kind of get your confidence back is to get out there and play football and throw the ball and throw completions,'' offensive coordinator Dave Yost said.

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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs


Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

The Capitals found out who their opponent will be for the home opener on Oct. 3 and it's not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And you know what? That's OK. Winning the Stanley Cup was awesome and the banner raising will be an incredible scene regardless. 

Plus, the Penguins need that night off because they have to get ready for their own home opener on Oct. 4 against...the Caps?

Wait, what?

In 2016, the Capitals were in attendance as the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner. That had to sting considering Pittsburgh eliminated Washington in the playoffs.

It has not become a tradition to make rivals watch as teams raise banners and there's nothing that said the NHL had to schedule the Penguins for Washington's home opener. But it does seem odd that the NHL is going to make the defending Stanley Cup champions play a back-to-back right out of the gate with the second end coming against their archrivals in Pittsburgh.

Hey Caps, it's the NHL here. Congrats again. Vegas is a hell of a city, am I right? So, listen...we thought about it and decided you won't get to raise your banner against your rivals. Sorry about that. We tried and we couldn't get them for your first game. Good news though, we moved it all the way up to the second game, we just couldn't get it any sooner than that. You'll be playing them the second game of the season...the night after your home Pittsburgh...for their home opener. Anyway, good luck on the repeat.

Makes sense.

Look, if Washington can't have Pittsburgh for the home opener fine. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal. Raising the banner will be special regardless of who the opponent will be. But don't turn around and make the Caps play in the Penguins' home opener the very next day.

The schedule makers did the Caps no favors with this one.


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Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Jaguars. 

Week 15 December 16, TIAA Bank Field

2017 Jaguars: 10-6, First in AFC South, lost AFC championship game 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 9

Early line: Redskins +8

Key additions: G Andrew Norwell, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Donte Moncrief, 

Key losses:WR Allen Hurns, WR Allen Robinson

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Blake Bortles was very inconsistent during the season and there was talk of the team looking for a replacement for him prior to their run in the playoffs. Does he have what it takes to get the team back into serious contention. 
  • The team also got an inconsistent season out of RB Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 pick in the draft. Can he put together the monster season that would justify his draft status and help elevate the Jaguars to elite status. 
  • The Jaguars went from 25thin scoring defense in 2016 to second last year. Will they fall back to the pack this year?

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 5-1. The Jaguars only win against them came in 2002.

Series notables

The first time: September 28, 1997, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium—In the second game ever played at the Redskins’ new stadium, Jacksonville took a 9-0 lead in the second quarter, but then-Jags QB Mark Brunell threw a pair of interceptions that set up two Washington touchdowns and the Redskins won 24-12. Gus Frerotte threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns and Terry Allen gained 122 yards on 36 carries. 

The last time: November 14, 2012, FedEx Field—Jay Gruden got his first win as the Redskins’ head coach in this one. Robert Griffin III went out of this game early with an injury and Kirk Cousins passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in his place. It was the defense that dominated this game, racking up 10 sacks, tying the team record set in 1977. Ryan Kerrigan got four of those sacks, tying the team individual record for sacks in a game. The Redskins won 41-10.

The best time: October 1, 2006, FedEx Field—A taught, exciting game came to an explosive end when Santana Moss snared a pass that Mark Brunell perhaps should not have thrown and streaked to the end zone, giving the Redskins a 36-30 overtime win over Jacksonville.

The reason the throw was risky was that two defenders were near Moss as Brunell fired it to the speedy receiver. Somehow both of them missed it. Moss grabbed it, spun around and bolted the rest of the way to complete the 68-yard game winner.

It was Moss’ third touchdown reception of the day. In the first quarter, he caught a long pass from Brunell and executed a nifty spin move near the goal line to complete the 55-yard touchdown play. An eight-yard Moss TD catch early in the third quarter put the Redskins up by 10 but the Jags battled back to tie it with six seconds left. That set up Moss’ overtime heroics. 

The worst time: November 10, 2002, Alltel Stadium—The Redskins came into the game riding a two-game winning streak and at 4-4 they were squarely in playoff contention. A strong running game had been their best asset during their surge to .500 and, with the Jaguars sporting the worst run defense in the NFL, there was every reason to believe that the Redskins would take the land route to another win.

But coach Steve Spurrier had different ideas. "I was dumb enough to think we could throw it up and down the field," Spurrier said. "We ran a little bit here and there. We had a little success there early, and I got away from it too much. The second quarter, I kept thinking at midfield, we could throw the ball from there. But we didn't do it very well. So, looking back, I called a lousy game."

His defense didn’t play very well either. The Redskins scored first but the Jaguars scored 26 unanswered points and came out with a 26-7 win.

Redskins schedule series

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,  and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS  and on Instagram @RichTandler