Upperclassmen expecting bigger things from Franks in Mullen Year 2

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks runs into Michigan defensive back Tyree Kinnel during the first half of the Peach Bowl on Dec. 29, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks’ comments after the Chick-fil-A Bowl win about losing his confidence during a troubled 4-7 season in 2017 did not come as much of a revelation.

Because everyone who watched him over that difficult time saw it happening.

The body language (head bowed, shoulders stooped). The indecision. The negative plays that only led to more negative plays. The turnovers. And then there was that final act — a four-turnover meltdown in a 38-22 loss to Florida State that included a pick-six and lost fumble returned for a touchdown.

So, yes, it’s obvious his confidence was shot by the end of the 2017 season.

Franks finally felt comfortable talking about that after the win in Atlanta because, well, he’s obviously a much different quarterback than he was under Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier.

“He’s got his swag back, his confidence back,” rising senior linebacker David Reese said. “I’m happy to see that.”

As are Gators everywhere.

In what was a huge turnaround season for the Gators (going 10-3 and finishing in the top 10 in the nation), the biggest turnaround of all probably belonged to Franks. In one year under Dan Mullen’s tutelage, he went from dysfunctional to functional, even highly functional at times, especially coming down the stretch.

After throwing for just 1,438 yards and nine touchdowns with eight interceptions in 2017, Franks threw for 2,457 yards and 24 touchdowns with only six picks. He also rushed for six touchdowns.

“I wasn’t here on Coach Mac’s team, so I don’t know what he was,” rising senior wide receiver Van Jefferson said. “But from what people have told me, I can see the change that he’s made and the work he’s put in to get better and accomplish his goals.

“He wanted to improve on what he did last year. You can see that he did that. He had an amazing season and led his team all the way to a New Year’s Six bowl game.”

Franks never seemed comfortable in McElwain’s offense and what he was asked to try and do in it. If anything, he appeared lost and out of sorts most of the time. It’s been a completely different story in Mullen’s offense and with the coaching he’s been getting (and accepting) from Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson.

“It’s crazy how Coach Mullen came in and turned him around in one year,” rising senior running back La’ Mical Perine said. “Coach Mullen had a big impact on him.”

His teammates say Franks has grown a lot as a player and a person over the past year under the new coaching staff.

“He’s matured a lot. He’s gotten more confident,” Reese said. “A lot of things have changed about him. He’s always been a competitor, but he’s started to mature and become more serious, become a leader of men.

“It’s good to see that in your quarterback.”

Perine and Franks were part of the same recruiting class and have grown close over the last three years. Perine said Franks is no longer the quiet, unassuming kid he was when he first arrived on campus.

“He was more of a quiet guy when he first came in,” Perine said. “He’s a leader now. You’ve got to be a leader if you’re the quarterback. He’s a vocal guy. He’s more of a vet now. He knows he has to speak up to the young guys and keep them ready at all times.

“He’s a great guy, a great leader.”

As a player, Franks made a big jump in Year One under Mullen. His teammates seem excited about the possibilities in Year Two.

“The sky is the limit for him,” Jefferson said. “He can go beyond what he’s done. He’s going to excel more this upcoming season because he’ll be in his second year in the offense.

“He has the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. As he puts the time and effort in, the hard work, there’s no doubt he can be one of the best.”

Said Perine: “He should be ready to make that next step to being a great quarterback.”

Franks’ first priority this spring will be retaining his starting role. Even though he seems to have already established himself as the guy at quarterback, Mullen has said the competition at the position will be wide open.

So, Emory Jones, Jalon Jones and Kyle Trask are going to be coming after him.

That’s a good thing for everyone, Reese said.

“Feleipe is on the up,” Reese said. “He’s going to put in the work and continue to get better. Emory is going to continue putting in the work. He’s going to continue getting better. He’s going to be great competition for Feleipe. That will motivate those guys to get better every day.

“It’s only up for both of them.”

 

32 COMMENTS

  1. With the way players, especially QBs, transfer now, it will be interesting to see what Mullen says about the starter at the end of spring practice. If he names Franks the starter, Emory may think about the transfer portal. I hope not, but that seems to be the norm nowadays.

  2. Franks was lost in McElwain’s system because he had a total an complete clown like Nussmeier coaching him.

    Nussmeier should not even be allowed in Alachua County again after what he did to our program, needless to say ever be allowed a football field again. My hanging fern on my front porch knows more about offense and coaching QB’s than Nuss did.

  3. I’m one who believes that Franks will get beat out Emory before the Gators host Tennessee. Franks will stick around the rest of the season and transfer out as a grad student for his 5th season.

    I agree with Sparky that Trask will stick around next season to finish his degree, then transfer out as a grad student too.

  4. Last season Q.B. Franks finally became a ”willing runner” (as Coach Mullen likes to say), as opposed to looking like a baby giraffe being chased by a lion, like he did his freshman year at U.F. But in 2018, Franks ran with ”an attitude” and determination. 2 things ANY player in contact sports must have, in my opinion. As for the future, let the best man win! Go Gators!

    • Absolutely. Let the best man win.

      Wouldn’t it be something tho, if Franks came back with a spectacular season, all deficiencies and liabilities corrected, and led the Gators to an SEC title? These are the things dreams are made of, and while it may be a long shot I ………

    • gatori70x7 – I believe a lot of Franks attitude came from what most everyone was saying about him. But, instead of putting his head down and remaining quiet, he took it out on opposing defenses and that is what makes a successful QB – a QB with an attitude! He now knows what it takes and whatever happens in 2019, I am sure CDM will have the right men ready for the season. GO GATORS!!!

  5. I would say that I will wait and see what Franks does, except he has already shown what he can do. I was there at Florida field to see the 2nd half comeback against South Carolina. I, like the rest of the Gator nation, want to see Franks rise to the challenge and become an elite QB – he is capable, but must become much more consistent with his execution, and must broaden his vision of the playing field (who is open, like Toney was in the endzone during the bowl game). Nobody is perfect – perfection is what you work so very hard and long to achieve. I also want to see how the other QBs develop – do not rule out Trask, who is one injury away from being the starter (unless Emory Jones can beat him out for the backup QB position). GO GATORS!!!

    • I’ve also ben a big fan of wanting to see Trask get a shot as starter, or to even be given a couple quarters to show what he can do in game situations, as I think he’s the best passer and reader of defenses on the team. But have to admit, the injuries may be showing some vulnerability, or a lack of physical toughness. Maybe he needs to get on the Savage S&C program bigtime this offseason, if he really wants to make a run for the starting job. At this point I think it’s really up to him, he’s gotta really want it.

  6. Franks will start the next two years and excel. Emory’s decision will come after next season, provided Franks doesn’t opt out early for the NFL. Trask may as well become a nuclear physicist as a football coach for all we know about his academics and future plans. If anyone might transfer out I would guess Trask. Think of his value to Vanderbilt or even USF. Big fella, strong arm, an even keel personality, and also a willing runner.

    • LGN – I don’t realistically believe that any of our QB’s will pass for 3000+ due to the stable of running backs we have on the roster. I could be proven wrong as I am not privy to what calls will be made during a game. Franks will have a better receiving corps to include the TE’s and even the RB’s. Maybe the O-line will dictate how the game plan is drawn up as we don’t know how good or bad they may be. We can only hope that the starting QB throws for over 3000 with two 1000 yard rushers. That would be an awesome season. GO GATORS!!!

      • Ed – another factor is game planning. CDM has exhibited greatness when it comes to game planning against what the opponent’s defense will best allow him to do. So if the opponent is weak in pass defense..he exploits it… and so on. Ideally balance is good and in the SEC it is ALWAYS great to have great RB’s. If Franks improves at all (very likely) upon his 2018 numbers, the passing game, which should include TE’s finally, will provide great balance.

        • Rog – it will be interesting to say the least. This is the worst time of the year for me waiting for the next football season. The only pro sport I watch is NASCAR, so the Daytona 500 is not too far away. We all know that we have CDM, so we can rest easier knowing that we are in great hands. GO GATORS!!!

  7. All these comments make me realize how much better our QB’s appear to be than when Greir got in trouble with the over the counter drug and we had no decent backups. The Gator QB room has come a long way up.
    GO GATORS – really looking forward to the season. I’m so glad Frost and that other guy turned us down and Strickland brought in Dan the Man.

  8. Franks impressed last year, but every team we played is going to have worn out the tape (doubt it’s really tape any more, probably digital something or another) looking for holes in Frank’s game. So I think this is the crossroads in improvement. What I saw last year was a huge step forward in all areas of his game save one. The one area was the glaring one the year before and that is seeing beyond the intended target. CDM did a fantastic job at making it simple for him but I think defenses are going to press the issue and force decisions. If he hasn’t improved here one of the others will take the helm. The touch pass needs improvement but I started to see some of that at the end. Trask’s durability is a concern and he may be like Del Rio and coach. the Jones’s are the future whether this year or next with the kid from Gainesville on their heels. EJ was rusty when in but showed some potential. After a year of CDM and co. the 3 that where here last year should be ready to have a real QB competition between now and spring camp. Add the JJ who I think is on campus and it could get very interesting. While I wish we were settled at QB I think the team is in the best place it has been since 2008. While I want all these guys to be great the reality is that won’t happen. CDM will put the best man on the field, the guy he feels gives us the best chance to win. If Clemson can win NC with a true freshman then so can we (if needed). Savage is building them up now. Mullen’s crew will get them soon and I hope the guys that report for GS will share what they are allowed to with us on these pages. The practice balloon goes up soon and these guys will be hooked up and standing in the door, they need to land and hit the ground running.

  9. I can see Franks taking the next step, which, in my mind, is pocket presence. His physical tools — size and arm strength — are NFL-quality. Now he just needs to read defenses better and feel more comfortable in the pocket, both of which should improve in his second year in Mullen’s offense (assuming the O-line jells). That said, Jones looks more like the proto-typical Mullen qb. Should be an interesting 2019. Whatever happens, the Gator qb situation has gone from the cupboards are bare to well-stocked. Well done, CDM and Brian Johnson.

    • I agree with the need for pocket presence. Franks needs to be able to make a decision to counter a blitz, for example, or to throw a guy open better–which he improved upon this year. He needs to know better what the defense is doing before the play. I would also hope that he does a lot of jump roping. The one thing Emory has on Franks and Trask is quick feet. A QB with quick feet , like Murray, makes the QB’s role in the spread more dangerous. Given Franks’ size and upper body strength, together with a good stride once he gets going, he needs to get going quicker.

        • That one is one of those things that biologically relates to processing latency, which directly relates to how rapidly the brain handles incoming sensory data, arrives at an accurate solution, and transmits an impulse to the muscle group responsible for enacting that solution. It’s one of those “it” factor factors that might be improved but at enormous expense in time and money — but probably not, so what you see there is no doubt what you get.

          However, if he can continue to improve in other areas, he can certainly compensate even more for that particular liability. It goes to the question of whether or not Franks has a “ceiling” to his development. Everyone has one, but a lot depends on how much more, if anything, the Jones are going to bring to the table this year.