It would be easy (and naive) to say that we will see today the beginning of the Feleipe Franks Era at the University of Florida.
Or that his performance today will say a lot about the rest of this season.
We know better. We know that today’s starters can be on tomorrow’s training tables. We know that yesterday’s heroes can be humbled before they do their first sit-down interview.
So, really, we know nothing. Except this.
When Franks was named the starter before the Michigan game it was almost by default. Malik Zaire hadn’t shown much in camp and Luke Del Rio’s health and possible future health was a concern.
So when Franks took the first snaps in Arlington, Texas, he was renting. He didn’t own it, but he could drive it as long as he returned it full of gas. Unfortunately, he had to turn it in before he finished his trip.
Franks now owns the job. There is nothing behind him when he looks over his shoulder that is a threat to his job. Oh, he doesn’t mind letting Kadarius Toney drive once in awhile, but it’s his car.
Try not to wreck it.
Don’t be distracted by texts or the radio presets.
Stay focused on the task at hand and watch out for bad drivers.
Obviously, the biggest thing for the rest of this season is winning games, no matter the score. This coaching staff is hamstrung by the loss of 12 scholarship players, but nobody is going to feel sorry for the Gators or lend them players. You can’t trade for anyone or sign a free agent off the street. This is your club and all you can do is go to work.
But as Franks tries to navigate this crippled ship through the treacherous waters that are the remainder of the schedule, we’re also going to keep a watchful eye on his progress.
We don’t know if Franks is the future at UF, but the rest of this season might tell us if he is not.
He needs to get better every day and that’s not just coach speak. There are many ways he needs to improve for Florida to cobble through this strange season and have a shot at Atlanta and he needs to get better for what lies in the more distant future.
“I think his command,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said when asked about the area Franks needs to show improvement. “I thought we played with a little more tempo when he was in there (against Vanderbilt). We’ve got to continue to do that. Just keep growing with it and let’s get a little bit better at all positions each week.”
Franks has grown. There’s no question about that. He was better against Vandy than he was against Kentucky and better against Tennessee than he was against Michigan. And he didn’t have the luxury of a payday opponent to pad his stats or build his confidence.
Nobody is expecting a sudden growth spurt, but you’d like to see him gradually get better.
“Feleipe has been growing ever since the first game ’till now,” said tackle Jawaan Taylor. “I feel like he’s going to get even better and better each week as the games go by. The way he practices and the hard work he puts in, he’s just going to keep growing.
“He’s gotten more comfortable in the offense and every day he just practices hard and prepares very well, so he’s getting better every week.”
That’s the goal.
And don’t be afraid to speak up.
You own this car.
“I think the biggest thing would just probably be taking on more of a leadership role in the huddle and forcing guys to get on the ball fast and line up quicker so we don’t take those unforced penalties or delay of games or the stupid penalties that we’ve had in the past that really have hurt us,” said receiver Josh Hammond. “I think those are the things that he’ll get with game experience and game reps that he’ll excel in the future once he gets a lot more game snaps.”
That’s the plan.
Be a leader.
It’s your team.
Drive it home.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.