Notebook: Mullen seeing QBs developing as they should in Year 2

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks has more confidence in his game this spring. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

After last week’s scrimmage, Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks said he has really been focusing in on improving his accuracy this offseason and spring.

The work apparently is paying off.

“He’s gotten a lot better (with his accuracy),” UF coach Dan Mullen said Thursday. “I think he’s done a good job of working off his frustration. If he makes a bad throw he doesn’t make three bad throws. If he makes a bad throw, say all right, that was a bad throw, it’s not real hard to see that was a terrible throw. Don’t worry about that one, worry about the next one. I think he probably used to get frustrated with it.”

Mullen said it’s evident Franks and the other returning quarterbacks — Kyle Trask and Emory Jones — have grown comfortable in the offense now that they’ve been in it for a year.

“I think so,” he said. “You can coach and you can teach a lot more and you can worry about teaching other bits of technique and fundamentals when you understand the offense.

“If you’re spending the whole time just trying to learn the offense your mind is not thinking about decisions. It obviously helps with accuracy and in decision-making and quickness — how fast you can do it.

“That helps when you know what you’re doing offensively instead of worrying about the scheme and the first time learning it all. I think that’s obviously a big help.”

Mullen said Franks, in particular, is making much quicker decisions on where to go with the football as he goes through his progressions.

“Understanding the offense helps so you can get to your decisions quicker and you’re on time,” Mullen said. “If I know where I’m going with the ball it’s a lot easier to figure where I want to place it then I’m just trying where to go with it.

“He’s done a much better job than that. I think he’s tightened up his delivery since we’ve gotten here, which is hard for a taller guy. By tightening it up you have less moving parts and the less chance of a mistake.”

A positive start

The Gators made a favorable impression on their head coach with their overall performance in the first spring scrimmage last Thursday.

“I was somewhat pleased how they went after the day,” Mullen said. “I want to see you perform at a high level and compete every day to be your best and to push yourself. But when you do step into the stadium, there’s got to be a step up of intensity.

“It’s like, ‘Hey, if I go on my morning run and then I got in a race, it’s a little more intense because you are trying to beat other people.’ Just that slight step up once you hit the stadium. So, I was pleased with that.”

Mullen said he’s looking for some of the young players to step up this spring and show they’re ready to take some game snaps in the fall. Several of those young players are on the offensive line, where four starters must be replaced.

“We’re still really, really young and inexperienced on the offensive line,” he said. “But we still have a long time until we have to play a game. You see guys that are not ready to play but are making big strides.”

‘Dogs playing catch-up?

Georgia made a bit of a splash earlier this week when it announced the school has scheduled future home-and-home series with Florida State and Clemson.

Mullen was asked if UF is looking to be more aggressive in its future non-conference scheduling.

“We play Florida State, so people are trying to catch up to us, with how tough our schedule is,” Mullen said. “We play Florida State every year, right? Georgia is playing them. They’re trying to catch up to us, I guess. Toughen their schedule.

“We play one of the toughest schedules. It would be hard-pressed to find somebody’s non-conference (schedule) next season tougher than ours. We’re playing Miami and Florida State.”

36 COMMENTS

  1. What a difference a year makes. Last year, many of us were sure, sure that franks wasnt going to be a successful quarterback in the SEC. It took an act of immaturity of Jones to open my eyes that Franks was underappreciated and deserving of our full support. now, if jones plays, its either mopup, injury, or really something special. same with trask. this is a wonderful situation, we have waited a while.

      • Perhaps it was like Pat Dooley and Gatorpsorts.com, re-tweeting the ”F-WORD” (in all its original glory) about the movie, ”Caddyshack” and ”Rotten Tomatoes” on their site. A site that a little 8 yr. old kid can see and read while riding on their school bus on their way to school. Just maybe, it was kinda’ like that…

          • Gator-6, this what I recently posted on my page, and I am ”just saying.”
            (Coach Mullen’s Dad) Robert Mullen, was also big on family values, another trait he’s obviously passed on to his son. Dan Mullen is always stressing the importance of family to his coaching staff and players, of always remembering to put family first. And it’s not just talk. His most recent family-first move came this week, when he scheduled only one practice so he and his assistants could spend time with their families while their school-age children are on spring break.” -Robbie Andreu article on April 4th, 2019.

            Then Pat Dooley re-tweeted on Gatorpsorts.com for everyone to read, from God’s Throne to Hell’s gate, on April 4th -5th, 2019,
            ”Caddyshack has a 74% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. To the other 26%, I say fuc# you, you didn’t deserve Ted Knight.”

            And I inserted the #. And it was out of respect for Dan Mullen’s little girl, his wife, and Dan Mullen’s late father, too. And while I am not throwing stones ( I can cuss, too, it doesn’t make me ”tough” or soft) I’m only pointing this out, whether or not you’re a true believer, this is some very wise advice: ”Out of the same mouth come praises and cursings. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” -James 3:10.
            And to just think that the SPORTS HEADLINES for today, on April 5th, 2019 are, ”Pelicans star Anthony Davis fined $15K for flipping off a fan in New Orleans.” And remember, a ”flip-off” is the physical form of the same ”Fu#k you” that Gatorpsorts.com recently re-tweeted.
            ”Things that make you go, hmmm.”

          • ”Out of the same mouth come praises and cursings. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” -James 3:10.

            I’m more of a Leviticus 15 man myself.

      • the immature act for jones was, last summer, when
        “WR Tyrie Cleveland, WR Rick Wells, TE Kemore Gamble and QB Emory Jones all were referred to the same department for lying to university”
        in an airsoft gun incident. it just signaled to me that jones wasnt ready in the leadership dept. last year. so, for this and other reasons i thought it was time to support franks, which turned out to be the way things went. now, its a new season, all indications are that franks is playing at a very high level and will be the qb again. Im not down on emory jones this season.
        Im even comfortable with stewart at defensive back even though he had some sort of immature choice that resulted in his not playing against georgia. id prefer no immature choices, but like injuries they happen. after a while, most guys recover, not always.
        i come from a generation that set a world record for some pretty not so perfect choices and the world is paying the price for it. didnt mean to condemn anyone, just hoping the new generation will do better than mine did, and i guess i got too enthusiastic when i saw one of the kids do some things like an older generation did.

  2. My best guess regarding the immature act: taking a shot at Jones for no good reason. The article was about Franks’ progress. Is it necessary to take a shot at Jones to recognize Franks’ progress? Unfair to Franks considering the work he’s put in, and to Jones.

  3. I’m from Missouri. Franks is going to have to “show me” he’s really learned to consistently go through his progressions quickly and throw the ball accurately to receivers wearing the Gator colors in real games.

    Here’s to hoping he succeeds.

    GO GATORS!!!

      • Thank you Daz. It is beautiful country up here. I’ve only missed Florida during football seasons, and the 3 cold, cloudy months that follow… every year… for nearly 40 years!

        As for Franks, I KNOW what we have in him is a “game manager” AT BEST. I’ve followed Gator football long enough to remember the miserable failures that were Terry Dean, Doug (the Slug) Johnson and Jeff (Dismal) Driskel.

        To those who claim that CDM can FIX what ails Franks I say, remember that the HBC, the best QB coach the Gators have ever known, coached two of the three guys I named above and he couldn’t FIX them. All three bounced around the NFL for a few years after leaving UF and despite their unquestioned physical talents, none of the them have EVER played in a Pro Bowl, and Dismal Driskel is in no danger of making one any time soon.

        • What type of season would Franks need to have in order for you to stop questioning his abilities and classify it as a successful turnaround for him, and that Mullen has “fixed” what ails him? He’s already gone from throwing for 1438 yards with 9 tds and 8 ints and rushing for 20 yards with 0 tds and only 4 wins, to throwing for 2457 yards 24 tds and 6 ints and rushing for 350 yards and 7 tds and winning 10 games and a New Years 6 bowl, all the while learning a new offense. I mean the last 4 games alone he was a completely different QB leading an offense that was averaging 45 pts and over 500 yards a game. They were one of the most potent teams in the country. That type of one season turnaround was something we never saw Spurrier come even close to doing with those QBs you named. One can only imagine what Mullen would’ve been able to get out of Driskel, considering what he was able to accomplish in one season at Louisiana Tech. It seems to me like the only way you’d be happy with Franks is if he wins a Heisman and a national title. Personally I don’t see how he won’t progress even more now that he can focus more on his mechanics and less on learning a new offense.

          • Joe, if you read my posts on the 2019 Predictions forum topic, you’ll see I have a very optimistic outlook for the Gators’ upcoming season. That said, to go beyond 10-2 or 11-1 AND make some noise in the CFP, the Gators will need a star QB that can CARRY the team in pressure situation against top opponents like Clemson, Alabama and UGA. Franks will NEVER be THAT GUY. He lacks the mental agility and discipline required to read defenses, look away from his primary receivers, find open receivers and get the ball to them quickly and accurately, while they’re still open.

            Franks is NOT a freshman, or a sophomore any more. He’s now a 4-year junior. This season, he should be at least as good as Rex Grossman, or Jesse Palmer, or Will Grier were IF the Gators are to be serious contenders for an SEC championship and/or a spot in the CFP Final 4.

            Physically, Franks most resembles Tim Tebow and Cam Newton. If he performs (run/pass) anywhere close to where those two performed in their 4th seasons, it would be good enough for the Gators to win a NC.

          • It’s just StL’s opinion, Joe — both of you are entitled to them in light of your respective insights as demonstrated on these pages. I don’t fully agree about Franks either, but having laid out my own reasons for at least some of his difficulties, I’m in a position of holding my breath and seeing how he does this fall. One thing for sure tho: He’s no Driskel, Dean, or Johnson — those men being used for reference only, I hope.

          • STL I agree he’s a 4th year junior and should be expected to perform like one, but technically he only has one year of legit coaching. Lets just hope you’re wrong that he’ll “never be that guy” and he surprises you. 6 I fully agree that everyone’s entitled to an opinion, I was simply asking what he was looking for this season for Franks to accomplish what he thinks is impossible. To be so sure that his progression has reached its peak after the remarkable jump he made his first season in a new offense, especially for a guy that looked like he had no business playing QB the year before, is a little confusing to me that’s all.

          • I’m with STL on this. And to be clear, I REALLY hope I’m wrong. Franks definitely made big strides last year. No doubt. BUT, I feel like a lot of that has to do with Mullen game-managing him into situations where he has easy reads. When he does that, Franks throws a great ball and that’s fantastic. Thing is, for every 5 good throws, he’s making a pass where you are just left scratching your head. And for every 10 good throws, he’s throwing a pass that is just a back breaker from a momentum perspective. For the most part, that’s ok. We can survive a bad interception against most of the teams on our schedule. But against UGA, and against LSU, and in an SEC Championship game or a bowl game, we can’t. That’s the difference right there. 10-2 seasons are welcome, and I think Franks can be the guy that brings us 10-2 seasons. Cool. But is he the guy that could bring us an 11-1 or 12-0 season? Man, I don’t know.

          • Joe, I will preface what I’m about to say by hoping I’m dead wrong about Franks and he turns out to be the next coming of Tim Tebow in 2019. That will translate into 2019 being a truly special season for our Gators.

            That said, Will Grier was a true freshman in 2015 and was coached by the same McElwhiner geniuses that supposedly retarded Franks’ development for 2 years. Still, Grier had a completion percentage of 65.6% over the 6 games he played before being suspended. He also personally CARRIED the Gators to a scintillating win vs. favored Tennessee with 2 TD passes and an ass kicking of then #3 Mississippi the following week with 4 TD passes. He went on to become a spectacular QB at WVU and it wouldn’t surprise me if he makes it big in the NFL.

            Franks’ completion percentage in his 3rd season, coached by QB guru CDM, was just 58.4% and only 56.1% with 1 TD pass in his heralded performance vs. Michigan in the Peach Bowl. He has yet to personally carry the Gators to ANY wins and I DON’T count that lucky Hail Mary completion vs. Tennessee in 2017 as “carrying the team.”

            CDM IS a QB guru and Franks IS now an imposing 245 pound beast. If Franks commits to really becoming a spread option QB, his running will make up for his deficient passing the way Tim Tebow’s running did. That, coupled with an overall strong running game, experienced receivers and a kick-ass defense might be enough to get the Gators into the CFP, which would be excellent progress in CDM’s 2nd season.

          • CMS — I don’t either, but I sure hope so. One thing for sure: If he is the starter, we’ll find out for sure this fall. We really need to be 11-2 or better by next January 1st, to keep the progression going for the ultimate prize!

          • 6 — No doubt in my mind that, barring injury, Franks will be the starting QB in Orlando on August 24th. E Jones isn’t ready to beat him out in practice and J Jones is too raw to see the field this season, except in mopup duty. Trask won’t be a factor, except if both Franks and E Jones can’t go.

            The only question on my mind is whether Franks will have another meltdown, like he did over the UGA-Mizzou stretch last season. If THAT happens this season, E Jones may take the job from him and never give it back.

          • StL — I say “if” only to acknowledge that the competition is still open, and to express confidence in Dan Mullen’s ability to judge who gives us the best opportunity to win. But I agree c you 100% pardner, it will be Franks this year. I also agree on the Franks – Tebow compensation, that’s exactly what I’ve been hoping for myself!

          • Cali, we shouldn’t lower our standards of excellence in order to boost our players’ self esteem. We do way too much of that to our young people in real life today, to their long term detriment.

            Let’s look at Franks’ performance in the 2018 USCe game played in the Swamp. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 161 yards and 1 TD. He also had 16 rushing attempts for 36 yards with 2 TDs. That performance was good, but NOT what I would call “game carrying” in light of the 468 total rushing yards and 5 TDs the Gators had in that game.

            Let’s compare Franks’ 2018 performance to Tim Tebow’s Heisman clinching performance AT USCe in 2007. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 304 yards and 2 TDs. He also had 26 rushing attempts for 120 yards and 5 TDs. Now THAT performance is what I call “game carrying!”

            When Franks has a performance resembling THAT ONE, against ANY Power-5 team, write me back and I’ll agree with you that he “carried the Gators” that day.

          • Don’t you just hate it when somebody actually has the unmitigated temerity to actually back up their opinions with actual facts, as opposed to just stating “FACT” at the end of each statement? The nerve of that StL guy! Get a rope, boys! 😁

            As for me, I’ll continue to hold my breath and, as StL says, hope he’s wrong.

          • This thread is so long (that’s a good thing) I don’t really know where to type this comment. At any rate, StL, we can only hope that Franks will be “at least as good” as Rex Grossman. Grossman’s 2001 performance was worthy of a Heisman, but he was “rewarded” with a second place finish. He was probably the most talented QB in Gator history, so if Franks is at least as good, I’ll be ecstatic.

          • STL if we could have a Tebow like player again to augment a offense that is coming together… Tebow had everything but the mechanics (according to the NFL) but had the intangibles that made a winner. They had weapons around him and if I remember correctly the first time Ohio was supposed to overwhelm us with the size of their team. The second time Ok was supposed to overwhelm our defense with the high scoring crap. Tebow had many great qualities that helped here. #1 leadership, intangibles, perseverance, mechanics. FF has the mechanics but to date has seemed to lack the intangibles, some guys have it when the world is crashing down to make the decisions under pressure and some don’t. I am giving him into this year to see what he has as the start wasn’t fair to him under MAC. If he can’t get it done then I think CDM who is the commander of the ship will do what needs done to keep the Gators on track. Gut says he’s got some room to improve but the ceiling isn’t that far off. Which in hindsight is what most here say. Hope we are wrong. I hope our QB room slays it this year.

  4. Immature act. We forget these are young men to most of us on here. At that age they all handle their frustrations on the field and off for that matter differently. Franks has spoken last year of his lowest point. With a lot of people on and off the field doubting him. Will he be a Heisman contender? Don’t know, but he doesn’t need to be to be a stand out Gator. Every QB we’ve had has had coaching some great some not so. Even SOS could have had QB’s that he couldn’t work with that someone else could have done better. BUT SOS and CDM seem to have a knack of getting the most of what they have in front of them. Different ways about it but their system works for their program. STL I am with you 100% in that for FF to make another move forward he needs to show us he has left some of those habits (not looking at the receiver) behind and can make some of the decisions (progressions) that seemed to elude him. I think for FF the coaching he had prior to CDM really hurt his development and maybe going back to HS he didn’t have the coaching at critical points in development. There is no question his performance was better last year but as fans we saw a lot of missed opportunity (points) on the field. Jones reactions to misses, failure are likely why there was some comment of immaturity. But this is where CDM excels. He will coach and teach his guys how to handle situations and how to react. Get beat once > reaction> choices a,b,c,d where d is act immaturely, a is do the some thing again in case it was a fluke, b do the same thing over and over, C learn what happened in the development of the situation and turn the situation into a positive one and make the play. The QB room is full and they are competing. This is the best thing we have had in some time. Full and competing. FEEL THE CHOMP!! GO GATORS!!!

    • That pretty well captures it, 65. I don’t know that Franks was ever a silk purse, but somebody did a pretty good job of making a sow’s ear out of him for a while. He’s certainly coming back now, within the length of his cable tow, and you’re right: The QB room is full and competing. What we do know is this: CDM will choose whoever has the best chance of winning games, period. The way it should be, and if that’s not the best thing we have had in some time, I’ll be a suck-egg mule. FEEL THE CHOMP!

      • 6 We were suffering from coaching issues for so long 8+ years seemed like an eternity didn’t it? Fans were disgruntled with players yet I think we now know the players weren’t the crux of the problem. If 3-5* players are elite talent. (they are) and the coaches end up with 4 win seasons I feel that may strongly suggest the coaches are not capable in this environment. CDM has been in this pressure cooker before as an AC and knew what he was getting into when he came here. Muschamp (I liked his fire) let his passion surpass his abilities and wasn’t capable of seeing what was happening in front of him. Kinda like a QB who doesn’t have that ‘vision’. MAC fed some line of BS that was bought hook line and sinker that got him hired and well we all know the result. This article is about QB’s but I think it is as much about coaching. I wonder how many good players were wasted in those 8 years.

    • Spot on 65. I agree Franks still needs to improve on certain things. The things he needs to improve on are things that he can really focus on fixing now, instead of being so focused on learning the x’s and o’s of a new offense. He would have to be a QB prodigy for anyone to expect him to correct every issue he’s ever had in one season and not make some of the same mistakes after only having a few months to learn the system. Mullen has said repeatedly that as long as they’re wiling to put in the work, his QB’s make the biggest jump from year one to year two, so I find it a little hard to believe that he’s maxed out his potential. I actually think he’s going to not only be one of the best QB’s in the SEC, but in the nation. I think some fans need to be more worried about the o-line than still doubting him, but that’s just my opinion. I think too many fans have PTSCD (Post Traumatic Sh$$y Coaching Disorder) and won’t fully accept that this program is in great hands and they can have confidence going into a season for a change, until they see one successful season followed by another. This program has been down so long that it might take 3 or more in a row to change the negative mindset.

      • Joe, the staff will call plays that help the OL just like they did to help FF. My concern with FF is that he may not have the intangibles we would all like to see. That does not mean he cannot “getter done” for our purposes. The OL will be fine. Better than most think. And the QB jump this year will be even better. FEEL THE CHOMP!!!

    • Jaws – I agree completely with your remarks. Regardless of our own personal opinions, CDM knows these players better than any of us do. I trust CDM and his staff as they have earned it from what they accomplished last year. How Franks plays this year depends an awful lot on how our O-line plays. We will all find out once the games count and our opinions will mean just as much then as they do now…lol. GO GATORS!!!

  5. That’s good to hear. The qbs will need to be efficient making reads and getting the ball off if the O-line remains a question mark. Franks getting the ball off quicker and tighter is a fascinating image. Love to see that is real action. I think Joe presented a pretty good argument on Frank’s behalf. He was hung out to dry by the previous coaching staff and he started last year having to overcome a lot of negatives from inept coaching from them, but he benefitted from the coaching change. After seeing the improvement he made last year, who knows what he can ultimately accomplish under Mullen’s guidance and plans. Fun to imagine.

  6. CDM is doing with Franks what every competing athlete needs to do to be successful on the next play: Forget the last play, no matter how good or bad it was, especially if it was bad. Put it behind you. CDM, Franks and apparently the entire team is focusing on the now to make the future better and only look at the past for landmarks showing how far the team has come since CDM took over the program. We can post that Franks will win the Heisman and NC this year, we can post that he will lose his job by the Tennessee game, or we can post something in between. It’s all guessing and what one guesses is indicative of their of their hopefulness, cynicism, or pessimism. As for the University of Florida’s Fightin’ Gator football program, there is an optimism for the now that I would hope make every Gator fan excited about the upcoming season and stop worrying about what the QBs have done or how young and inexperienced the O-line will probably be. None of that matters because the coaches are coaching them up and putting them in situations where their strengths lie so they can be successful at their jobs on and off the field. Go Gators!