Franklin returns in road win

FRANKLIN BACK IN THE SADDLE: James Franklin returned as Missouri's starting quarterback for the first time since Oct. 12. The first play showed that the rust wasn't too bad.
Franklin eluded a sack, rolled to his right and connected with Marcus Lucas for 19-yards on the game's first snap. The Tigers' offense looked fine-tuned, going 72 yards in eight plays and scoring on a four-yard run by Henry Josey.
Franklin completed his first seven passes for 89 yards, but slowed in the second half. He finished 12-for-19 for 142 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass, and in the third quarter, he threw his first interception since the Indiana game. Franklin felt pressure after a play-action fake and rushed a throw downfield to Dorial Green-Beckham in triple coverage. Mississippi defensive back Cody Prewitt registered the pick.
"I definitely wasn't the happiest with how I played," Franklin said. "I think I was thinking more of not doing bad and trying to do good rather than just going out there and playing.  It definitely feels good to be back and I'll try to learn from this game and apply it to next week's game."
"I thought James did a really good job," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said.
Pinkel added that some of Franklin's reads may have been off, but overall, he played well.
"A lot of pressure on him to play well, because Maty (Mauk) has been playing well," Pinkel said.
Mauk played one series in the game, leading the offense to a field goal in the second quarter. He completed a 60-yard pass to Bud Sasser, and finished 3-for-7 for 83 yards.
The decision to play Mauk was made during the week, and ideally, he would have had a series in the second half. However, because of the flow of the game -- which wasn't completely put away until a dominating eight-minute drive to run the clock out -- Mauk stayed on the bench in the second half.
"He's been here for four years," Mauk said about Franklin. "You knew he was going to come out ready to go.  I could tell the last two weeks, he's had two full weeks of practice and he's looked good both of those weeks.  He came out and executed."
While his passing numbers won't cause much excitement, Franklin didn't show much hesitation on the ground. He finished with eight carries for 42 yards, including key runs in the final drive of the game.
"At times, I thought he looked like the old James," offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. "He improvised. He threw on-target passes down the field. When things weren't there, he pulled it down and made plays with his feet. Really pleased with how he played."
"It definitely felt fresh to be out there," Franklin said. "It seemed like I hadn't been out there in a long time and six weeks is kind of a long time."
PONDER COMES UP BIG: Missouri cornerback Randy Ponder was tested early and often against Mississippi, as Bo Wallace challenged his side of the field throughout the first half. Ponder intercepted a pass on Mississippi's first drive, extending the Tigers' turnover streak to 41 consecutive games.
Ponder said there was a shift in how the cornerbacks played this game that helped them hold Wallace to 244 yards passing and no touchdowns.
"Usually, we play off (the receivers)," Ponder said. "This game we decided to press a little bit more and jam them up.
"We switched it up on them."
Wallace's passer rating was 105.9, his second-lowest rating of the season. Alabama held Wallace to a 97.92 rating earlier this season.
BRANTLEY'S IMPACT: Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Harold Brantley didn't start on Saturday, but he made an impact on both sides of the ball.
After Missouri forced a short field goal attempt by Mississippi to start the second quarter, Brantley blocked the kick and kept the Rebels from cutting into Missouri's 7-3 lead.
In the third quarter, Missouri lined up to punt from its own 20. The snap went to Brantley, however, who is part of the Tigers' blocking shield in front of Christian Brinser. Brantley ran the ball to the left sideline and gained 26 yards. While Franklin threw an interception on the next snap, Brantley's athleticism was noticed.
"I don't think they were ready for me to be as fast as I was," Brantley said. "When they saw me get the ball, their reaction was really slow, which surprised me. I ran as fast as I could to the outside."
Brantley said he's supposed to take the snap "vertical as soon as possible." On this play, he saw two defenders over Missouri's long snapper so he took it toward the sideline instead.
"Brantley, we should play him in short-yardage offense now," Pinkel said. "He came up to me on the field and told me that, when the game was over. We probably will. He weighs 280 pounds. You see him run the way he does."
"I've been saying that since I was a redshirt freshman," Brantley said. "A lot of people don't know I used to run the ball in high school, so I was ready for it. I was begging him to call it."
QUICK HITS: Henry Josey ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns on fifteen carries. He has 12 touchdowns on the season ... Marcus Murphy set a career-high with 16 carries. He had 67 yards and a touchdown ... Missouri's lone sack of the game came from Markus Golden. He has 5.5 sacks on the season ... Gary Pinkel won his 100th game at Missouri, and is one win away from tying Don Faurot atop Missouri's record book.