Summer job: Franks continues to work on his game, being Florida team leader

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks runs for a touchdown during the Orange & Blue Game on April 13 at Florida Field. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun/File]

The consensus among the college football preseason magazines, talk radio and social media is that Florida has a chance to be good in 2019 if steadily-improving quarterback Feleipe Franks takes the next step under Dan Mullen in year two.

And what exactly is the next step?

Franks has a clear idea what he expects it to be.

“I want to hopefully be one of the best quarterbacks in college football next year,” Franks said. “I do feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

“Coach Mullen and coach (Brian) Johnson are doing a great job of paving the way for me and helping show me what to expect and how to do things. I follow them and soak it all up. Being under their wing has been the best thing for me.”

Mullen and Johnson do appear to have Franks on the right path, a path that eventually could lead Franks to elite status among college quarterbacks (and perhaps pro QB prospects).

Since his arrival on campus three years ago, Franks has always been viewed as a player with limitless potential because of his great size, strong arm and athletic ability.

But following a two-year struggle under Jim McElwain and his offensive staff, many were beginning to wonder if Franks would ever turn his potential into production.

Then Mullen, with his excellent track record for developing quarterbacks, came along and everything started changing for Franks. His mechanics improved. He gained a better feel for reading defenses and where to go with the football. He emerged as a leader. His confidence grew.

Then he went out and had an impressive first season under Mullen, improving from week to week and helping lead the Gators to a 10-win season and a top-10 final ranking. Along the way, he threw for 2,457 yards and 24 touchdowns with only six interceptions. He also rushed for 350 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Once he started to learn the offense toward the end of the season, he took the leadership role of the offense and drove the ship,” senior wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “He’s a competitor. He wants to win. He’s a guy that’s going to fight until he can’t fight anymore. That’s what I admire about him.

“He’s gotten so much better from a mental standpoint, dealing with social media, fans, things of that nature. Just growing up and being the guy to drive the ship for us. He’s been really good for us and he’s going to continue to be that way.”

 The way Franks closed out the season — 862 yards passing and 12 overall touchdowns over the final four games —  has many thinking that if Franks can take the next step under Mullen, he has a chance to become one of college football’s top quarterbacks this fall.

He’s spending this summer working on that next step.

“It’s an important summer coming off a 10-3 season, not to get complacent, to keep working and getting ready for what’s awaiting us in the fall,” he said. “Me and the other quarterbacks are always out there keeping chemistry with the receivers every day. We’re always in the indoor (practice facility) throwing and getting our timing down.

“For me, (taking the next step) is becoming more of a leader and more of a personable guy. That starts with putting the team first, never being selfish. And continuing to work on my aspects of the game, just the quarterback being the leader, helping my teammates when they need me the most.”

Back in the spring, Franks made improving his accuracy a priority, and that has carried over to the summer during player-run practices and pitch-and-catch opportunities with the receivers.

“You want to be as accurate as possible,” he said. “It starts with other parts of your body, like where your feet are, where your arm angle is. It comes with practice. I continue to work on it with game-type situations.

“The pocket is not always going to be clean, you’re going to have to throw balls kind of sidearm, over this way, over that way. It’s one of those things I continue to work on. And I’ve been watching a lot of tape, most just self-reflection tape.”

This is the time of the year when the players can have little contact with the coaches. But when Franks does have an opportunity to talk with Mullen and Johnson, he takes it, and he listens to their advice and applies it to what he’s working on to get better this summer.
Franks said being developed by Mullen and Johnson is “the best thing that’s ever happened to me at the quarterback position.”

His development is an ongoing process.

“They continue to help me grow as a person, as a leader, as a football player and a quarterback,” Franks said. “Every day, it’s something new. I try to learn from them. I’m going to continue to learn and to grow.

“I think I’ve come a long way. It’s always a scary thing a player goes through when there’s a coaching change because you never know how things are going to play out.

“Since they got here, they’ve helped me out a lot. It’s been something different. The whole program has changed. They continue to help everybody grow as a person.”

Franks has clearly grown as a player under Mullen and Johnson, and the process will continue. Pretty soon, it will be time to see if he’s ready to take that much-anticipated next step.

36 COMMENTS

  1. As hungry as I am for news, I hate to say it: “Generalisimo Franco remains dead”.

    At any rate, I for one am glad Franks is building his confidence — a true break-out season would go a long way to quell the naysayers. And who knows? If that were to happen, how about Atlanta?

    • Ok 6 – lets be Frank(s), the way he came on last year should be a starting point at a minimum this year. The O-line will be the pass/fail of the offense as I also believe that we will be doing more than our share of running the ball this year. So will the O-line be better pass blockers or run blockers? I imaging that they will call plays to the strengths of the O and how the O-line shows their abilities when the season starts. CDM and crew will have these young men as prepared as they can be, so let’s hope the chemistry is there from the jump. GO GATORS!!!

    • @LA – You remind of the type of person that could win the Powerball lottery and get sad because of the taxes you would have to pay. We are allowed some optimism with Franks and the offense after dealing with McYelllowTooth for years on end.

      Just sayin…

    • I expect the oline to play well. Last year’s line had experience before Mullen got here– all bad. They were, to be blunt, fat and lazy, low speed high-drag slackers who did not play with any passion at all. They didn’t care about their team mates, constantly gold bricking, letting the QB get hammered, the running backs battered for no gains, all the time just thinking about beer and pizza.

      Yet, in one season the coaching staff coached the fat right out of them and turned them into a team strength as we rushed for 300 plus yards repeatedly– and not just against junk teams. Those same fat slobs became men.

      Now, we have guys who don’t come here with the Fat and Lazy mentality. They are hungry and ready to work. Savage will Savage them. Hevesy will teach technique. But the biggest thing the staff will do is bring out their nasty– mean and nasty goes a long way to offensive line success, and I predict we will see it all season long.

      • Jaws CDM will have plays that take the pressure off the OL until they find their feet. But an OL playing with an attitude the right “you’re not gonna beat us” attitude can do wonders for the offense as a whole. If they can execute and back it up… Assuming they are working on off season stuff that the coaches gave them and assuming (a lot to do with youth) they are getting better w/o coaching their maturation will happen faster. We’ll know in a few weeks when they have team functions. They looked good physically at the end of season compared to Mac. They were executing like a team under CDM. I think we see a similar start this season with one exception. The coaches have a much better feel for what they have as players and what they can do as a cohesive unit and team. Of course we won’t know until the game(s) is/are played. Hope to see a functional OL with RB, TE, WR doing their thing with skill and a QB who knows/trusts his abilities and his targets. On the other side of the rock a DL that strikes fear in the opposing OL, DE that have strength and speed, DB’s from DBU making WR, Receiving RB’s miss their routes and going to the old days of SOS and UM that if a QB lets it go they have just as much right to the ball as the intended target. LB that don’t give up big plays in clutch downs (never would be good) of course as ROG said below take off the glasses.
        We have some teams coming in that have something to prove. UK wanting to maintain their streak (pun intended) Tenn under 2nd year coach and Auburn under a coach on the perpetual hot seat. LSU, S Car, will be all in after the way they lost last year and then there is Missou which seems to be a thorn in our heel. UGA well is UGA and they are riding the high of their recent notoriety and superior draft classes. FSU well WT has his hands full fixing that train wreck but you never know because of the hatred between the two teams. If all our opponents play up over last year we will have a MF of a schedule. By Rankings Auburn isn’t in the top 25 but we were not either last year. UK @ 14, LSU @ 11, UGA is @ 5 (I am sure that is to stir the pot), Missou @23. So 4 ranked teams that by the time we get to them will have earned their ranking and possibly one or two more. Cant’s wait for the first game. GO GATORS!!!! 🐊🐊🏈🏈🐊🐊🏈🏈🐊🐊🏈🏈

        • Jaws and 65, you are spot on. Melody, you are too but c the exception that I think you read La Gator wrong! He’s spot on as well, and that point is what a lot of us are worried about. That said, I tend to be in agreement with the camp that says the OL will gel before we really get into SEC play — maybe even long before that — but I would hasten to say that it’s still at the level of a concern. Just not outright anxiety. ❤🐊🏈

          Since the topic has surfaced again tho, maybe StL will weigh in c his current thoughts on the matter?

          • There is a chance Auburn will be ranked by the time we play. Tenn probably not because of who they play before us. Which would be 4 ranked SEC opponents assuming no one falls off the list. A lot of moving parts. Auburn and LSU back to back (both ranked). S Car the following week means back to back road games. Bye week and UGA (whose toughest game will be ND 6 weeks earlier will be fresh) Brutal 4 game stretch. This will be the litmus test of what the team is made of. I think these are all winnable games I am not sure we will be ready for that kind of pressure yet.

          • You speak the truth 65……yet, I’m confident we’ll be “Savages” by then. If you take my meaning. So I’m pretty sure the OL won’t be out-muscled at any point. The litmus test you refer to is, I think, one of mental preparation — know the plays, beat the other SOB to the punch, take no quarter, and most of all……believe.

            “They had no right to win, but win they did”.
            — Gator65
            c. 2018

        • I totally concur with you Jaws, and you too 65, but dadgum, it seems like it took me 15 minutes to read your post lol. So, here is my (bold?) prediction for Franks, assuming no injury, transfer, or arrest (seems ya never know!). Over 3,200 yards, 30 or more touchdowns, and less than 10 interceptions (allowing for a few for potential pressure in the pocket, especially early in the season), and at least 62% completion percentage in the passing game. And at least 500 yards (see pocket pressure comment, above) and 7 touchdowns rushing. If this comes to fruition, I believe UF will have a very solid season.

      • jaws of truth, I do like your comment about last years offensive line, certainly you didn’t hold anything back! I hope this years line is able to be better. it baffles me how coach mac, and all of the credentialed people we had then, did not have a successful conditioning program. considering that, with the invention of Gatorade, maybe UF didn’t invent conditioning, but it sure is in our branding. conditioning is huge, but you cant condition experience, so I am still a little uncertain about the offensive line coming up.

        im hoping, probably wrong, but still hoping that cdm borrows a little from the air raid playbook, and puts up 100 on Georgia this year, and that we make the leap all the way to the top. If so, franks is going to make a whole lot of money off of his first nfl contract! I know, its the offseason, and since generalissimo franco hasn’t come back to life yet, you gotta think in other terms.

  2. Leading into last season there was lots of speculation in these parts about what kind of team we’d have and what impact CDM would have in his first season. And overall we’d all agree that the season was much better than expected. And Franks had a lot to do with that ….. especially as the season went on.

    I sense that same level of anticipation and speculation about the coming season. I was thinking 8 wins last year was where we’d end up, so 10 wins easily surpassed my expectations. I don’t know yet where I think we’ll end up this year but here’s how the scales are balancing out for me right now: On the minus side our OL will be very inexperienced. And that is a BIG minus. Since the SEC is a line of scrimmage league ….. let’s just say that Coach Hevesy has his work cut out for him. IF he gets the big uglies to come together then the scales may tip to …… the plus side. Feleipe Franks showed great progress last year and he certainly has the confidence needed. He looks to have the total confidence of the team and appears to be a great team leader. The Gators have missed that aspect a lot since Timmy left. But, even with the question marks about Franks’ on field decision making, I’d still put the QB position on the plus side. CDM and Coach Gonzales have obviously fixed the problems with the skill positions at RB and WR so I’m feeling pretty confident about continued growth from the offense.

    I’ll have to ponder the defense a bit before I can come up with a projected win total in 2019. Gotta take off my orange and blue glasses.

      • I have believed, Austin, that an 11-2 season was a must in order to maintain the progression and momentum we need to get back to elite status. However, based on taking into consideration the input of some of the guys, like 65, StL and a whole bunch of others, I’ve come to believe in light of the unique challenges this year and the tougher schedule, a repeat of 10-3 with a good bowl win would indeed represent that progression and momentum. I still think 11-2 would nail down some great recruiting, but you never know.

        When are you headed out for that Dallas project?

  3. It’s refreshing to read positives regarding Franks for a change. He definitely has the tools to be a game changer at QB. I’m certain Hevesy will develop the O-line and run schemes to their strengths. I bet the RBs are going to catch a lot of passes this season and look for misdirection with an occasional razzle dazzle play. Hopes are higher than they’ve been since Timmy, and it feels good! Go Gators!

  4. I like what I’m at least hearing about Franks. More importantly, I like the work he is putting in. His problem has been his vision. Just didn’t see open receivers. I’m optimistic that will improve this year. As for the line, sure it is inexperienced. But, some our best linemen over the years have been freshmen and some of our worst have been seniors. You never know with these guys. I like our O line coach though and I am really confident in Mullen’s ability to camouflage our weaknesses and play to our strengths.

    • The scheme will help a lot. I loved the way we attacked all parts of the field last year and had the defense running side to side a lot, getting tired. As he said, he wants their heads spinning, and he proved a master of that last year.

      As for the vision thing, the one thing the article didn’t mention, which I hope is happening, is FILM STUDY. If Franks can learn to read defenses and our receivers run precision routes, he should know right where to go with the ball when he takes the snap in a lot of cases.

      • Yeah I think a lot of people who question his vision aren’t factoring in the learning a completely new offense aspect of the scenario. it’s understandable for a player learning a new offense to be confused and miss open players. With a year under his belt and a lot of film study this offseason, I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a much more confident player who knows where everyone is on the field.

        • I still think this issue is biological and organic guys — that’s just my particular bias — but nowhere does that mean there isn’t room for improvement. That is to say, a mere 20% improvement will pay huge dividends…….and with all the above in play, that is certainly possible. I’d love to see it!

          • Not to ride both sides of the fence Joe and G-6, but I agree with both of you. Franks physical tools appear to be much stronger than his instinctive strengths. But with a commitment to improving the intellectual/ instinctive aspect, I believe he can be an extremely successful college quarterback, and perhaps even an NFL prospect. He seems to understand that. On a side note (speaking of instinctive aspect), is anyone aware that one EJ Smith out of Dallas Jesuit is a potential UF recruit. Yes, that would be Emmit’s son. Stanford seems to be currently leading the pack, but UF has offered and is recruiting him.

        • AG I have been following EJ for some time in the news and hoping he comes here. If he does and that is a big IF he has huge shoes to fill and at times that seems too much on the young guys. 247 Sports has him cool on the Gators the OS and Stanford leading the pack. There is some great tape on him there making chicken salad out of chicken s–t. Would be a another great Gator. Looks like he has good vision, intellect and feel for the game. Have a feeling he goes west coast.
          As for FF and his intellectual/instinctive aspects.. There are ceiling limits there that seem pretty firm once reached. I am deferring to 6 on the psych stuff. Of course there is a physical ceiling as well. The only thing one can always do is keep learning. Then the key is applying the knowledge effectively.

          • Dang G65, I really want to disagree, but don’t know where I can make a legit argument. From my brief experience on this site, I am not surprised you have been following this young man. Other sites do have a slightly different take than 247. That is, in fact, where I got the information that The Cardinal is in the lead, but further reading raises eyebrows, at least mine. Last three sentences, dead on for all athletes. And G-6, I too am on your couch in great expectation.

  5. Good to know that Franks and company are working hard. Franks had his work cut out for him last year– it was harder than being a rookie in that he had to unlearn the bad habits he’d picked up from Uncle Yellow Teeth and his freakish idiot of an offensive coordinator. Not just the physical stuff, which is hard enough, but the Failure Mindset instilled by the previous staff which actually celebrated half-azzed inconsistency, constantly bragging they were, in their words, “showing flashes,” as if that were a good thing.

    Now, he’s gotten improved mechanics and developed a championship mindset, and that wii go a long way as he and the WRs work on precision in the passing game rather than “good enough.” I do hope to see much better accuracy and execution, especially in the long passing game. I still have nightmares about that missed flea flicker in the UGA game! Meanwhile, he started running like a beast as the season progressed, and that means a lot in this offense.

  6. Let me say this…If our OL doesn’t show the improvement against Miami we will be behind the eight ball. As the OL last year started to understand the way you play and allowed the runs that happened late in the season which if you see the stats of the explosive plays, None over 50 yards until FSU by a RB. If you can run the ball Franks will be ok. If we show up like we did against Kentucky last year where the OL was beaten time and time again with nowhere to run. It is now put back on Franks to throw and you can’t be one dimensional. The OL is the key for every team…You have to be able to run the ball!

  7. I agree if Franks runs like he did at the end of last year he will be OK, even if he still looks down receivers. A running QB threat changes a defense immensely, especially if they regularly take a step then throw. It freezes the LB’s so they cant close on the WR’s. Tim did that alot. I do like the changes the coaches have made in him. I remember how it was everybody elses fault his 1st year. Now he takes ownership. He may never be an NFL QB but he sure seems like he will be a very good college one. I wish him and thus the team, a very successful year!