Florida’s Jones in position for more playing time

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Florida freshman quarterback Emory Jones tries to avoid a tackle attempt Saturday against Idaho at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field. [Lauren Bacho/Staff Photographer]

By Zach Abolverdi, Correspondent 

Florida coach Dan Mullen did not want to go into the regular-season finale at Florida State without getting more game experience for freshman quarterback Emory Jones.

The Gators’ 63-10 win over Idaho on Saturday afforded Mullen that opportunity. Starting QB Feleipe Franks put up points early and UF jumped out to a huge lead against the Vandals, paving the way for Jones to take over in the second quarter.

“I wanted to get him in the game as soon as possible,” Mullen said Saturday. “Our decision is if we’re going to get him in, we want to get him in as soon as possible. … I think it was 42-0 (when Jones replaced Franks). And as soon as it hit that, I said, ‘You’re going.’ ”

Jones threw for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-16 passing. He also rushed seven times for 19 net yards, including a 15-yard run on third-and-8, but was sacked once for a loss of five yards.

Prior to Saturday, the former top-100 recruit had seen limited action against Charleston Southern and Georgia. The injury to backup quarterback Kyle Trask (foot fracture) elevated Jones to the No. 2 role for South Carolina game, but he did not play against the Gamecocks.

With the road trip to FSU looming, Mullen felt it was important to use the Idaho game as a chance to get Jones prepared for the possibility of playing in Tallahassee.

“I was really pleased to get him in as early as we did and get him as many reps as we could,” Mullen said. “He is one play away from being in the game next week. He can be in the second play of the game. And now he’s got a little bit more experience on gameday, in there, running the show by himself. Not just with a small package — having to run the whole offense.”

With a six-touchdown lead, Jones also didn’t have to worry about drowning while getting his feet wet. He was able to try new things and work out the kinks — such as his red-zone fumble — without the game on the line.

Franks didn’t enjoy that luxury as a redshirt freshman in 2017. His first time playing was against Michigan in AT&T Stadium, and Florida’s home game the following week was cancelled because of Hurricane Irma.

“They changed the redshirt rule where you can get playing time, and I think that’s gonna help (Jones) out tremendously,” Franks said. “That’s one of the things I never had. I never got to get like game-time experience and go into the next year. That’s something I never got.”

Jones now has three games under his belt and can play one more time this season without burning his redshirt. Mullen isn’t revealing when that will be, but Trask is expected to be available for the bowl game.

If Jones does see the field at Florida State, his coach is comfortable with him running the offense.

“Over the last couple weeks, obviously now you’re getting even more reps in practice. I think (that) has helped him,” Mullen said. “But he’s a guy that has been very confident the whole season. With the new rule, the ability to get on the field and play a little bit here and there, it’s perfect for someone like him.

“He’s got the experience to be the backup without potentially burning the redshirt here. He’s got one more game to play in, possibly. We’ll see. You never know how things are going to play out for the rest of the year for him.”

9 COMMENTS

      • if one of them earns it, thats fine with me. i do suggest for consideration, since jones and franks (according to luke del rio) are somewhat different at the third option (run is the third option for jones, checkdown is the third option for franks), maybe we can go with a third choice of rotation next year and do some damage that way.

        • Jones may well be the starter, he strikes me as a “slippery” runner ala Toney and he sure throws a beautiful ball/seems to make good reads. I think, however, if Franks continues to demonstrate “power” running ala Tebow +/- there will be a place for both of them. Even tho Mullen is not really known for playing two QBs….well, we’ll see. Just a thought that won’t go away.

          • I understand the idea of “a thought that won’t go away”. Here’s mine: if we (the Gators) select our QB’s based on who’s the best runner, we might as well take the face masks off the helmets, or better yet, just go back to leather ones. Unless all of college football regresses to that style of play, we won’t win a championship against a team with a good passer (see Bama v. Clemson and Bama v. UGA pre-Tua). It’s great to have a mobile QB who can extend plays and even gain yards when needed, but counting on the QB for a significant portion of your running game exposes him to unnecessary risk, imo. Sooner or later he’s likely to end up like Nick Fitzgerald did last season with his foot dangling from the end of his leg. Some have speculated that Fitzgerald’s struggles this season are due to missing CDM as his coach. Maybe, but it could also be due to missing a fully functional foot.

  1. I’ve got no idea why Mullen is so worried about his redshirt here. If Emory Jones is still on this roster at age 23, then he hasn’t panned out and Jalon Jones will be the starting QB. Also, as a running/mobile QB, you may want to save that redshirt year for the potential of an injury in the first 4 weeks that could knock him out for the rest of the year. Not saying he should start vs FSU, but the only mobile QB FSU has seen all year has been Eric Dungey and he got hurt and exited early. Wimbush to an extent too, but all ND had to do was run up the middle to gash FSU. And those are more ‘willing, designed play runners’ than Emory’s escapability. If Emory comes in and does well, then he should start the bowl game too. If we take a nice comfy lead w/ Franks, then just leave Franks in there the whole game and let Emory practice for the bowl. Either way, there really is no need to be concerned w/ the redshirt.

  2. Franks, may again start spring practice as the No 1 QB, but he will have a very short lease…I think Trask will be the starting QB on opening day…with Jones being the back up, who will have package of plays in all the games…The new QB Jalen Jones coming into this next group of freshmen will get a shot also, but will probably be red shirted and Franks at some point will be switched over to a RW or TE…Trask is by far, the most accurate of all the QB’s and has the same arm strength throwing the ball, as franks…there is not a nickles worth of difference in their two arm. Trask will be a much better 3rd down QB than Franks…Franks is an awful 3rd down QB…when he either runs or throws the ball on 3rd down and 3-10 yds.. he is only about 20% successful… when the RB’s run on 3rd down and short they are about 70% successful…should be a very interest spring and fall practice. I can’t wait to watch these battles…

    I thought Jones played very well…he actually threw the ball better than he has been throwing in practice…and his running style was impressive as well, he will certainly get his chance next year if his accuracy improves…

    I think Del Rio was correct in his tweet…and that’s exactly what happened in the SC game…I must admit I was somewhat disappointed with Franks and his behavior towards the fans against SC…A one yard run for a TD is not that spectacular…anyone of our RB’s could have made that play…the fans were booing him because he could hit open receivers and not being able to make 1st downs on 3rd down plays….the 9 yd TD he did show great effort and I was proud of him…but, then again any of RB’s could have done the same… he still just doesn’t get it…

    • Hey Cody — glad you took the time, interesting comment about Trask. Seems a lot of the “conventional” wisdom on here is that he will transfer, but I kind of think not. As far as Franks switching over to tight end, we discussed that for a few weeks then pretty much dropped it. What makes you sure he’d go along with that option, in particular?

      • I think Franks is more likely to transfer Trask…Trask is a better QB than Franks…Mullen is a smart man and will talk with Franks and explain why his future is not at QB if he wants to get to the next level (NFL)…it certainly will not be at QB…he is, just too inconsistent at QB , especially against top quality teams… Chis Collingsworth had the same problem…he was an all world QB coming out of High school …after the first few games the hand writing was on the wall… They made him a RW and he he became an all pro and had many years of great success…Franks biggest problem is he thinks he is a much better player than he actually is…we will just have to wait and see what materializes… I would actually like to see him develop into a great QB…but, I just don’t see that happening.