James Franklin admits there were times last year that he “bumped heads” with quarterback Jordan Rodgers.
Things boiled over on New Year’s Eve when Vanderbilt's football coach pulled Rodgers during the third quarter of the Commodores' loss to Cincinnati at the Liberty Bowl.
Completing just 4-of-14 passes for 24 yards with an interception was not the finish Rodgers envisioned for his junior season.
Afterwards he was visibly upset at Franklin’s decision, which didn’t appear to help the quarterback-coach relationship. Franklin approached it from a different perspective.
“I think when you have some opportunities like that for growth and you can go back and reflect on some of the choices, some of the situations we’re all in, including myself, I think it turned out to be a real positive,” Franklin said during Tuesday’s SEC coaches spring football teleconference call. “We’ve had some really good discussions — me and him — where I think we’re going to be much more on the same page this year than we were last year.”
After a productive spring, Rodgers heads into the summer as the obvious frontrunner for the starting job. Franklin eagerly awaits fall camp to see if Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels pushes Rodgers after gaining familiarity with the plays and personnel during the spring.
Rodgers played in all 13 games in 2011 and started the last seven. His presence had a positive impact on the Commodores' scoring.
Though the dual-threat quarterback brought another dimension to the position he did sputter at times. This spring, he focused on fine-tuning his passes under 10 yards — an area that plagued him in 2011, especially in the Liberty Bowl.
“I feel like I am setting myself up to be where I want to be,” he said after the spring game. “I didn’t perform how I wanted to last year although we did some good things. I have a standard for myself and I’m getting there. It is going to be a work in process.”
It appears to be a good step in mending fences with Franklin.
The second-year coach understands how important the position is. After all, he’s a former Division II quarterback.
“Whether it is Pop Warner, little league, high school, college or the NFL, if you have a guy at that position, you have a chance,” he said. “I’m not one of these guys that believes that the quarterback is untouchable. I believe that everybody has got to pull their weight, whether it’s a DB, a lineman or a quarterback. Everybody’s got to pull their weight on a consistent basis and probably for the quarterback position, probably need to be more consistent than anybody.”