Mullen still evaluating his quarterbacks ahead of South Carolina game

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Florida quarterback Kyle Trask looks to throw Saturday against Missouri at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Trask came in for an ineffective Feleipe Franks and provided a brief spark. [Brad McClenny/ The Gainesville Sun]

Nothing has changed with Florida’s quarterback situation since Saturday night.

Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and true freshman Emory Jones are going to have a chance to compete in practice this week and at some point UF coach Dan Mullen will decide who’s going to start against South Carolina on Saturday, and how the other two might be involved in the game, Mullen said Monday.

“I’ve always said we’ll look and see how practice goes,” Mullen said. “We might play two quarterbacks, might play three. We’re still putting the game plan together. I want to just see, as we put the game plan together, we go out and practice it, who gives us the best chance to win. That’s kind of how we’ve done it all along throughout the whole year.”

Franks has been the starter since preseason camp and had been showing steady progress in the first seven games of the season. But he struggled in the loss to Georgia and then had a difficult time making anything happen in Saturday’s loss to Missouri.

After the offense had two consecutive three-and-outs to start the third quarter, Mullen pulled Franks and went with Trask, who provided an early spark, leading the Gators on a touchdown drive that culminated with his touchdown pass to Josh Hammond.

But like Franks, Trask also struggled to consistently move the offense.

Mullen said the two basically graded out the same in the game.

“Neither of them graded a champion,” Mullen said. “Their grades were about the same, about 71 or 72 percent. So, we’ll see how the week goes.”

In the 38-17 loss, Franks completed just nine of 22 passes for only 84 yards, while Trask completed 10 of 18 for 126 yards and a touchdown.

Mullen said the poor overall offensive performance is not all on the quarterbacks. They didn’t get much help, especially from the offensive line.

“We weren’t moving the ball well as a whole offense,” he said. “There were a lot of problems beside the quarterback. With that, we put in a young running back as well. We rotated some linemen and we put in a different quarterback.

“But, also, Kyle had a good week of practice, so you felt comfortable in doing that last week. So, we’ll see how this week’s practice goes.”

Jones, who had a chance to run a package of plays in the Georgia game, is also in the mix this week in practice, but the plan is still to redshirt him this season. He can play two of the last four games and still do that.

Mullen said he has to be cautious about how he uses Jones because he’s still early in his development and playing him as the starter too early could have a negative effect on his growth as a QB

Mullen said Franks probably became a starter too soon last season as a redshirt freshman.

“You’ve got to look at Emory and within his development,” Mullen said. “There’s an injustice to put guys on the field before they are completely ready to go play. Now, if I think Emory is completely ready to go play, we can go play him. If he gives us the best chance to win, we’ll go do that.

“But there’s also a lot of discussion you have to have with his overall development. It’s fair to say Feleipe probably played before he was ready to play. I think that’s hurt his development.

“Last year, seeing him, he played as a redshirt freshman. I haven’t played many redshirt freshman quarterbacks, as the starter. I don’t know that I have.”

Given the short time Jones has been in the offense, the starting nod Saturday likely will go to either Franks or Trask. But there is a chance Jones could be used similar to the way he was in the Georgia game.

Hammond said the players have confidence in all three quarterbacks.

“They just do a good job of propelling the offense and getting guys going and making the right decisions and the right reads at the right time,” Hammond said. “Not just Kyle, not just Feleipe, not just Emory. I think all of them collectively work together well and all of them want to try to get better each and every day, and they push each other to be better every day.

“They all do things well and I think they all are still competing for that spot.”

47 COMMENTS

  1. Graded out about the same? Who is doing the grading–Madoff? Trask hasn’t started a game in his career. He has hardly played. He was on the bench and then told to come in with 5 minutes left in the 3d Quarter with Mizz’s starters still on the field. He had all the adversity in the world against him. His grade cannot be measured the same as Franks, unless someone is rigging the system for Franks. Trask made passes , with touch, that Franks doesn’t make. They are both great kids, and I love Franks’ love for being a Gator. But there are players on that team who thought Trask would start at the beginning of the year and they are at practice every day. Franks has had a lot of chances, time and opportunity. Coach knows best and I will root for whoever he decides on, but this article is full of coachspeak BS. KT should get a chance to see what he can do.

    • I’m with you. 55% completions to 41%, 12.6 yards per completion to 9.5, and 1 TD pass to no TD passes, yet the grade is the same? Why…because Franks made a couple of runs that the running backs could’ve made? I’m pretty sure the Gators don’t have a running back who could’ve thrown that TD pass to Hammond. I’m sure the grading is more complicated than I’m trying to make it, but this sounds like pulling grades out of the air to cover for Franks. According to the ESPN box score, KT had a QBR of 64.5 to 27.3 for FF. BTW, Lock’s QBR was 88.0.

    • Agree. I am a solid CDM backer, but he has got to stop treating the fans like idiots, and start talking the unvarnished truth, or he is going to lose the Swamp crowd. He can have his players backs and still tell the truth. First we were told that Franks was not pulled because he was “terrible”, and now we are informed (I assume with a straight face) that Franks and Trask graded-out the same. C’mon coach! We know what we saw on the field and so do you. If you expect the fans to fill the Swamp and support you and the team like the “good old days”, you are going to have to show some respect for our football savvy and quit the BS. We have been winning despite Franks, not because of him, but we have most certainly lost because of his poor performances. Sure, defend him. No doubt he is a good guy. But don’t take us for granted and keep blowing the same smoke. Tell it like it is, or your credibility will suffer, and folks will just stop listening.

        • Apparently. I just read the piece that insinuates the team loss is owned by the fans and the Swamp. I could have sworn we “graded-out” higher than the visiting team’s fans, but I guess not. At least now we know that it wasn’t that Franks was awful, or that the O and D lines got pushed around like a bunch of ballerinas – it was the fans that blew it. So now the coaches and the team have nothing left to fix, it is up to the fans…

    • mkfgator I don’t agree that Trask came in with all the adversity in the world against him. I think it was quite the opposite and he came in with no pressure at all against a team that was already up 25 and a defense that was playing bend but don’t break prevent, who had no idea what his strengths and weaknesses were without having watched any film on him. I don’t think anyone in their right mind, Trask included, expected them to come back from 25 down at that point in the game. That was a perfect situation for a player to come into with no pressure and the fans going crazy for him to build up his confidence. Had he been put in earlier like he should’ve been, then it would’ve been a different story. He was able to capitalize on his first series against a defense that didn’t know what to expect from him and then after that he made a few good throws, but didn’t really move the offense much. On the one TD drive he had 59 yards. On the next series they got a first down with a 15 yard run by Scarlett, but then he basically had a 3 and out with 2 passes for 0 yards. On his final series, he completed a pass to Toney, who did most of the work for 45 yards and a few other passes which upped his yardage total when looking at the final stats, but unfortunately he took multiple sacks for -20 yards. It’s not surprising to me that they graded out similar, cause one good series can’t possibly change the numbers that much. Grading is more than just passing the eye test. Even though he completed some intermediate passes, if he misses some explosive plays that were there to be made, then it lowers the grade. I think we definitely need to see more of Trask, but it’s not surprising why Mullen isn’t just outright naming him the starter. I’m sure he’s a little hesitant knowing what he sees in practice and that it’s a completely different story when the defense can game plan for him, and you can bet for sure that Muschamp will be.

      • As always, Joe, you make valid, rational points. I would point out that a couple of the sacks came when they were in 5-wide and the defense blitzed. Not much he could do unless there was an audible he should’ve made in anticipation of the blitz, but my point is the play call set him up for failure in those situations. The O line has enough trouble protecting when there’s a back or tight-end to help them. Your take is fair, and I think most fans on here acknowledge that Trask’s performance isn’t enough to proclaim him better than Franks, yet, just that it warrants giving him a longer look.

    • The o-line plays like they have something to play for, the running backs run like they mean it, and the receivers get open like they do in practice? Trask, if he starts, will have a great time showing what he can do.

      If the defense also plays like they have a collective pair.

  2. In the interview CDM talked about being gun shy. Hit a guy every time he does something he tends to duck to avoid the hit. FF may be that but he also may have a processing problem. Arm strength A, Accuracy b-, Touch pass accuracy c-, Decision making b-, understanding the flow of the play c. Trask Arm Strength B, accuracy b, Touch accuracy maybe B+, Decision Making ?, Flow of the play ? unknowns as he hasn’t played enough. Jones has these skills but is a bit raw and needs maturity. I would not want to ruin Jones to get him on the field.

  3. I’ve met Feleipe Franks, and he is truly a nice young man. He has some skills and talent as a football player, but I don’t think that his football intellect is sufficient to be an elite SEC QB. He rarely sees the whole field and only focuses on where the play is designed to go. I have no idea if Kyle Trask is any better at that because we haven’t seen him for an extended period of time in any game.

    But in judging the passes that he made during the second half of the Missouri game; I’d say that Trask’s football IQ is above Franks’ by quite a bit.

    I think the bottom line is this. We haven’t “won” games because Franks was the QB, we have won in spite of his being the quarterback.

  4. Trask. ‘Nuff said. Franks is not the answer. Dude flashes that NFL arm strength and size on one play but cancels it out with 6 overthrows and bone head decision making on others. He has had more than enough chances and it’s time to sit him. As soon as Trask came in there was a noticeable pep in the players’ step. He looked calm, knew his reads and was steady in the pocket. Going forward I think he’s the best option. I think that had he been in the game from the start that UF may have been in the lead going into the locker room at the half. Don’t know why CDM is saving this dude’s feelings-cut the umbilical cord now while the can still salvage a good season. GO GATORS! A.K.A BRGF

      • LOL! What’s up Gator6! It’s still me-had to create a new account and couldn’t use my moniker so I place it at the end to let you all know that I’m still here! Great game by The Tide over the weekend. Absolutely loved the goose egg hung up in ‘death valley’. Anyhoo-on to the next game against Chump’s chumps. Another noon game and another scary game IMO. This one has the making’s of an L all over it. Chump coming back, QB chaos, sluggish early starts, and sc’s ability to ruin games UF is supposed to win. I’m kindy shaky on this one right now. Hopefully I’ll have a better feeling later in the week. GO GATORS!! BRGF

  5. I have supported Coach Mullen all season with his decision to start Franks.
    In the last few big games, however, I have seen Franks top out or reverse on his growth.
    I believe we have seen enough. Trask came in and threw for more yards in one quarter than Franks did in nearly three quarters. Trasks’ accuracy and touch on the ball is superior. Trask also sparked the offense and put some spring back in their step. Trask should start the next three games and Jones should have packages in two of them and be red shirted. Next year Trask and Jones should get most of the snaps. Kelly Bryant from Clemson might be available and a compelling addition also.

  6. Everything I’m reading is nothing more than pure assumption. Trask came in with 5 mins left in the 3rd quarter and made one drive that resulted in a TD. OK, what else did he do ? He did better than Franks did but nothing really special. Just an average QB that made better throws because? yep, they were playing soft defense . Considering BOTH QB’s have only been in this system for 8 games and yet here we go again with these great expectations and assumptions. You do know what happens when you assume ? CDM stated clearly Franks was started too early and his development has been damaged. This falls back to the coach who threw him to the wolves plain and simple!! Tua is a good example, Wasn’t started at all his first year because?? DEVELOPMENT!! He came into a NCG and smoked the pups! Regardless of what you want, PATIENCE is the best friend we could have right now or we could screw up yet another QB! Did anyone actually listen to what CDM said in his news conference? We are still along way away from being the team YOU expect them to be. They are still learning and to be honest, EVERYONE is expecting way too much from this team atm! I just hope there is improvement of some type on both sides of the ball. Granted they took a step back as a team but that’s part of learning to be great. Urban Meyer didn’t fare well in his first year here either, until he recruited players he NEEDED for his system. Same thing CDM is going through. Come on Gators, I know I’m not the only one who keep’s their mind in reality and not fantasy. Stop expecting way too much !! It would have been nice to make the SECCG, but that’s not happening. Would be great to have Emory or Trask walk out and run up and down the field scoring at will , but that’s not happening either. These guys need something your not will to concede to, TIME! Apologize if I offended anyone

    • Wisconsin Gator that’s a lie and you know it, Saban has some loyalty to his veteran players, the reason Tua got the start this season is he’s flat out no questions asked a better QB than Hurts and Hurts almost cost them a championship. As far as Frank’s and Trask what I saw Saturday was close to what I saw in the spring game. Mullen say what he said because he doesn’t want to have Frank’s loose the confidence he has left., Take Jeff Driskel, was about as broken as a quarterback can get, I’m shock he made a NFL roster. Last but not least, if the players lost faith in Frank’s taking the team anywhere, that has an effect on their play also, using Driskel as another situation, that team dragged tail until he was injured and Tyler Murphy came in, we all know he wasn’t a super star, but it energized the team offense and defense they were playing better until he got hurt. My belief they left it on the field after loosing to Ga.

    • Franks was started too early? Well, exactly who was Mac supposed to start last season, Clarabelle? LDR wasn’t fully recovered by the Michigan game, Trask was hurt, and Jake Allen was a true freshman. Franks was the only option. You can say MO was playing soft defense as the reason for Trask’s success, but I doubt they were playing soft when the Gators were in the red zone at the 7 yard line. You may be right that Trask is only average, but average QB play would’ve beaten UGA and might’ve beaten MO as well.

    • What else did he do? What he did was superior to Franks at at that point in the game with them being so behind they had to pass to catch up and MO knew it and shut down the passing lanes. Let him play when he can have a balanced offense and see what he can do!

  7. Watching Trask (albeit in limited play) he looks to be a better passer. I agree that our pass blocking needs to improve just as it has done with its run blocking. When watching on TV it is hard to see if part of the problem is that our receivers are not doing enough to get open. If that is the case then responsibility also falls on them.

  8. My impression of Franks and Trask following the Mizzou game was that Trask looked much better. But I’m not an expert and don’t feel qualified to challenge the coaches’ assessment of their play. Franks has had a very poor two-game stretch, but we also need to remember that he has been the QB during the six wins this year, including wins over Miss. St. and LSU. I agree that he did not carry the team in any of these games, but he did make positive contributions to those wins. Given that history, it is not hard for me to understand why the coaches would be hesitant to replace him as the starter. Having said all of that, I would not be unhappy if Mullen named Trask the starter agains USCe.

  9. I don’t know the big picture of how coaches grade qb game performance, so I’m befuddled at how Franks and Trask graded out the same. That’s a head scratcher. To many of us who just watch football for fun, It looked like the coaches waited too late to insert Trask in the game Saturday. Franks look befuddled and overchallenged for a lot of the game and a lot of fans wondered if the hook would ever come. When Trask entered the game, he looked poised, could read and showed that he could go through his progressions, and could pass with good timing to reach the open man with a catchable ball. It looked like he had the ability to throw accurately to different spots on the field. He may not have Franks’ arm strength, but he has a decent arm, and it looks like he has a pretty good football IQ. But the coaches get big bucks for evaluating and developing talent, so we’ll just have to wait and hope their grading produces results.

    • Franks reminds me of Blake Bortles. You just need him to manage the game and not commit stupid turnovers. If he can’t do that, we lose. Look at all the The defense didn’t help the cause any. This was a game where we needed Franks to step it up but he’s just not capable of carrying the team.

  10. I am just disappointed in the play of the last 2 weeks. In both games the players just quit. Need a better effort from all phases of the game. Like most fans I would like to see Trask start this week, and hopefully have a long leash as Franks has had. We could still have a 9 win season and that isn’t bad. 10 with a bowl win. Still with a couple of good recruiting years, we could be great team again. I truly believe Coach Mullen is the man to lead us back better times. Good Day…………….

  11. CDM doesn’t know what to do with a drop back passer like Trask. That’s part of the problem. He didn’t know what to do with Leak. He really doesn’t alter his system. Franks and Trask are both drop back passers. Franks has physical gifts and Trask is more cerebral. CDM with drop back passers is Square peg round hole.

    Unfortunately, CDM has gone totally conservative with the offense because he doesn’t trust Franks. Franks always has an outlet pass within 2 yards of the LOS(sometimes 2 or 3 of those options) and he almost always takes it. I think the Tennessee game was key to the season and the way we’ve performed. In that game Tennessee kept giving us the ball and Frank’s job was essentially not to turn it back over. For all the games since he’s played very conservative trying not to make a mistake instead of trying to make plays. If CDM designed plays where there weren’t any pass options shorter than 8 yards pass the LOS; then Franks would be force to throw downfield, take a sack or throw the ball away. It would also stretch the field giving our rbs more room so it would be harder for linebackers to fill gaps. Right now the defenses have 10-11 guys within 5 yards of the LOS at the start of the play. CDM is scared that Franks will turn it over. Franks is scared he’ll turn it over. It’s like tell a 3 point shooter to stop shooting 3 pointers because there is a greater chance he’ll miss them than a 2 pointer.

    If anybody listened to Gator radio, it was interesting how excited Lee McGriff was when Trask came in. He talked him up big time before he even threw the ball. He crowed after each completion. He was essentially saying, “This is the guy that should have been starting from day 1 and that he’s special.” While these guys are supposed to talk up substitutes, it was interesting that he essentially thought the guy was cheated from not playing earlier in the year.

        • I’m in a philosophic mood, prairie, so let me just ask…..in this subliminal world, what is “cocky”? 😀

          All seriousness aside tho, I can’t think of anything more miserable than losing to Champ in the Swamp. Not even losing to FSU, although that would be pretty damn miserable of and by itself. Maybe losing to Idaho would be more miserable? But it won’t come to that — I’ve gotta believe we’ll get our mojo back before Saturday.

          • Well, OK, I’m nervous too. But I do think we’ll snap out of it!

            Great screen photo, by the way. If I could get my grandkids to sit still long enough, I’d use a picture of them in full Gator regalia…..alas, not to be this year anyway.

  12. It’s a rebuilding process everywhere, including the fan support. Mullen is right that we need to have a packed house every week, but it has taken years to dismantle what had been a very loyal and relentless fan base and UAA needs to look at some of its practices and attitudes that have led to alienating so many fans from the live game experience.

    Of course, the ultimate thing is to put an entertaining product on the field and win games. I am sure more than a few fans who made the effort to come to the game saw the team of soulless zombies we fielded sleep walking through the game and wondered why they had bothered to come down to support a team that clearly didn’t care. If the team is going to take a dump on the field and flip the fans off with a terrible lack of effort, the fans are going to stay home.

    Loyalty is a two way street, and when the players spit in the faces of the fans with their zero pride performances, they can’t expect the fans to respond with love and applause.

  13. You know Muschamp would love to kick the Gators when they are down. If Florida starts slow once again and is down by 10 or more, I’m hoping that Trask gets his shot early enough to make a difference. I’m still hoping the lights click on for Felipe. However, it appeared the team gave up on him in the second half. That can’t happen again. It really needs to be a short leash for a lot of players, not just Franks. I’m also hoping Florida uses the Idaho game to give Jones a start or at least significant playing time.

    • Hey Mexi — I’m with you on getting Trask in sooner than later if things go south. Also, expanding Toney’s plays. Let me ask a question, tho. Since Jones can play in two more games without burning his redshirt, which two would you play him in? S. Carolina, Idaho, FSU, or the bowl game?

      • Definitely not Idaho, even though it might be an easier game for him to build confidence. My initial thought was South Carolina (might as well get used to SEC speed) and FSU (because even though FSU stinks this year and the Gators are struggling, it is still a BIG game and he needs to get that experience). But you could also make an argument that 15 or so bowl game practices will prepare him to take meaningful snaps in a bowl game.

        So all that said….I’d probably go with FSU and the Bowl game. I’d let Trask start the SC game and if a change is needed, go with Franks.

        • I would either start Trask or put Franks on a choke collar with a short leash for USC. I disagree about not playing Jones for the Idaho game. If Trask comes in for USC and lights it up, I would start him for Idaho. If he comes into USC and plays poorly, I would start Jones at Idaho. Regardless of how Trask (or Felipe) plays at USC, I would let Jones play as soon as the game is blown open. I think that fits with Mullen’s strategy of building confidence. As bad as FSU is playing, they still have elite players and will throw everything at the Gators to keep their win streak alive for recruiting. We need that game desperately. It isn’t a game for true freshman to get on the job experience. Jones would then get a lot of snaps if not the majority for the bowl game.

          • I was not sold on the need to redshirt Jones at the beginning of the season It is late in the season to play him, but I was hoping they would have used Jones more in wildcat and RPO packages during the course of the year similar to what Mullen did with Tebow as a freshman. You have two QBs that do not fit your system and a freshman that does fit. You have two more QB commits that fit your system lined up for the next 2 years. I would think a little more separation in class years wouldn’t be a bad thing. Either Jones is the real deal and stays only 3 years or he isn’t and Jalón Jones or Richardson will surpass him.

      • What’s up Gator 6? I’d play Emory in the Idaho game and the bowl game. My logic being that against Idaho he would have a better chance to play longer and work on some things whereas against the semis he would be under some intense pressure at times with it being a rivalry game. I would much rather see him play well against a lesser foe and have him geared up and ready for the start of spring ball. Then he could play a bit in the bowl game. Just like last week this game scares me. Franks just seems broken. I want him to do well but it seems that his first 5-6 passes of the game are always high and off the mark. GO GATORS!!

  14. We should start Trask since he gives us the best chance of winning and igniting the team and the fans.
    We should also run Jones in package plays and red shirt him.
    We have seen enough of Frank’s development to know that 9 games in, we are not seeing discernable
    progress in passing efficiency, converting third downs and scoring in the red zone. His continual INT’s and fumbles have been costly. The D is on the field too long and needs a rest. Yes, the O Line hasn’t helped, but even when it was clicking, Franks was Franks.
    Let’s look ahead now to the future and to 2019. Let’s finish the year strong at 9-3, win a quality bowl game and attract our fair share of top recruits. Trask gives us the best chance on all of the above.

  15. Trask has seemed to perform with that same O-line that we all think of as not the best., so let’s not keep blaming the O-line for Felipe’s performances. His Failures should be his own, the O-line is NOT over throwing the passes, fumbling the ball or throwing poorly thrown int.