The Back Nine: Franks still most ready at QB

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) leads the Gators into Saturday's contest against Miami in Orlando. [Gainesville Sun file]

The Back Nine comes at you after the first weekend that required a second layer. I think that was our winter. Spring will start tomorrow.

10. Dan Mullen wouldn’t say who will start at quarterback Saturday, but here’s what I heard him saying Monday — Feleipe Franks will start because he is the most ready, but Franks will have the shortest leash since Mullen named him starter for the opener. The bottom line is still the bottom line it was back in the spring — I’m not sure Florida has a big-time quarterback on the roster. Emory Jones might be, but he’s not right now. Of course, the fans know more than the coaches because of all that video they’ve watched and practices they’ve been to, right? Look, I was right there with you in that game Saturday that it was pretty clear early in the third quarter that Franks needed to sit down and give someone else a try because it couldn’t get any worse. Kyle Trask did fine, but Florida also converted two fourth-down plays it would not have gone for if the game was on the line and the Tigers played a pretty soft defense at times. Either you trust your coach or you don’t. And if you don’t after nine games, you probably never will.

11. I beat up the defense pretty good in my column after the game and here’s why — offense is 75 percent execution and defense is 75 percent effort. And missed tackles are a lack of effort. Maybe that’s just my opinion, but I’m sticking to it. Today I am going to blister the offense for that showing Saturday because of the first five drives of the game. We talked all week about how important it was to get on top of Missouri and get the crowd into it. Here are the first five Florida drives of the game:

• Seven plays, two first downs (one by penalty), punt.

• Four plays, one first down, field goal.

• Three plays, 8 yards, punt.

• Three plays, no yards, punt.

• Four plays, one first down, punt.

By then, Missouri was up 21-3. There wasn’t a soul on this team who was blameless for the disinterested performance, but that adds up to 21 plays in five possessions and 37 yards gained. One thing that I believe is lacking on this offense is speed. Those old Mullen offenses at Florida had little scatbacks who could break explosive plays. Florida ranks 111th in the country in offensive plays of over 20 yards.

12. Most people think these Gators were way ahead of schedule and got distracted by the attention and ran off the rails. People who keep emailing me about how talented this team is must be watching something else. There are some talented players, but this constant changing of coaches has made it difficult to build depth and put 22 quality players on the field at a time. And especially on the offensive line. “We’ve got a long way to go with development,” Mullen said. As we said a long time ago, the current Florida football program is a dish that cannot be microwaved. It needs time on the smoker. I told a lot of people that the best part of 6-1 was that the floor was 7-5. Two losses later and the floor is rushing up to meet this team. I also believe that during the course of a season with a first-year coach, there comes a point where the same message goes in one ear and out the other. The head coach admitted Monday that he could use some true leaders, that he sees potential leaders who have struggled to emerge with what is still a new staff.

13. The Alabama beatdown of LSU reminded me of one of my mantras — home-field advantage is only as good as your players. And Alabama has better players than anyone. Everyone who was at that game said they had never seen a more lit crowd than the one in Baton Rouge. That’s great. And the Tigers still haven’t scored. It was almost as if Alabama said, “Hey, you know what we haven’t done all year? Just embarrass a team with our defense.” So they did. LSU ran the same old stuff and fell flat on its face. The most amazing thing to me is the way Nick Saban’s teams are so consistent not only within a season, but year to year. Different coaches, different players, same dude at the controls of the Death Star.

14. So ESPN issued an apology after political pundit James Carville’s rambling conspiracy theory comments and T-shirt that said “Greg Sankey (hearts) Alabama” because of the targeting foul that kept linebacker Devin White out of the first half of the game. I know there is a financial reason for not ticking off the conference’s commissioner and certainly respect for the man. But nobody who is anything but a maniacal LSU fan took Carville seriously. LSU fans, and Carville is an over-the-top one, are as passionate as any fan base in America and sometimes the lunatic fringe is the most vocal. But last time I checked, Devin White didn’t play offense.

15. I kinda felt bad for Kentucky with all the hype surrounding its game and then Georgia just did what Georgia does. The Bulldogs are doing pretty well in their rebuilding season with a young team, wouldn’t you say? It’s rough for the rest of this conference to know that two of the three or four best football programs in the country are in this league and aren’t going away. It certainly makes the climb to the top of the mountain more difficult.

16. So Kansas, which is still suffering from the colossal mistake of hiring Charlie Weis in 2012, fired David Beaty and his 6-39 record and there is a lot of talk of hiring Les Miles. That would make a splash, but if you think it’s going to take Mullen a long time to build the Florida program, Kansas is light years away. I have an idea. Nick Saban to Kansas. We all know he is the best coach in college football and maybe the best of all time. You want to really do something? Go turn around that program. I dare you. No? Urban Meyer? Dabo Swinney? It was worth a try.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Tim Bourret, a former SID at Clemson and author — “If Clemson beats Boston College next Saturday, Dabo Swinney will have a higher winning percentage as Clemson football coach than Coach K has as Duke basketball coach.” That’s crazy. In a way, Dabo reminds me of Phil Mickelson to the Tiger Woods that is Nick Saban. If Saban doesn’t come along, who knows how many titles Swinney would have won?

18. Ok, so I found my thingy for my headphones and I’m back in business. No excuses now. I’ve received a lot of feedback to my playlists lately and I know there are a lot of people who have never heard of some of the groups. So I went mainstream for this one:

• “Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

• “She’s A Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones.

• “Tell Me Why” by the Beatles.

• “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight” by R.E.M.

• “Inside Out” by the Traveling Wilburys.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. Felipe Franks may be the most ready in practice and may have the most experience but neither automatically make you great on Saturday. The team needed a spark and Trask provided it. Franks may have hit the plateau where he just won’t get any better. In order to win you need to provide someone that isn’t a liability. Too many missed receivers, now poorly thrown balls. Give Trask or Jones a chance. Only the bowl game and pride are left to play for.

    • half agree with you. definitely would like to get EJ as much experience as possible without burning redshirt. still don’t think trask is the answer, just based on the coaches’ opinion. don’t agree that franks has necessarily hit a plateau. i think the coaching changes have a lot to do with where franks is now compared to where he could be. definitely do think the timer on him is about to run out though . he is in the going to be a senior next year, and i don’t know if there’s enough time to wait for him anymore. as far as only the bowl game and pride are left to play for, i’ve got to disagree with that. beating FSU this year is about more than pride. it’s also about recruiting. i don’t know how much more winning UCF will have to do to get a conference upgrade, or if it’s even possible, but they are the most talented team in the state right now, and that gives pause. if florida wants to return to the top of the heap, it’s going to start with recruiting. there is a huge void right now in the state of florida, and if uf wants to fill that void, they need to make their case over the course of these last three games. some of these guys at uf want to play pro ball. they need to make their case, and i didn’t see any nfl players last saturday. these players and these coaches have a whole lot more at stake than a bowl game and pride.

      • Weregator, you are absolutely correct. From this point forward, it is all about RECRUITING. The necessary pieces to that puzzle are (a) finishing strong at 9-3 or 8-4, (b) securing a good bowl game and winning, or at least being very competitive, and (c) finding the gumption, drive, or character they had in their first 6 wins. If they care as much about the future of the program as Dan Mullen and staff do, it’s all achievable.

        Sparky — Franks has been here since 2016 and has been a headliner since the day he first set foot on campus…..lately for the wrong reason…….but I think that’s why it seems he has been here a day or two longer the the dirt.

  2. What have you got to lose by putting in Trask, Toney or Jones when you’re not scoring? Franks is another John Brantley/Jeff Driskol, just not getting it done. The play calling sucks too, I thought Mullen would mix it up more, get the TE involved. He’s got his work cut out for him, can the defense play any worse, guess we’ll find out in the next three weeks, don’t be surprised to see SC and FSU pull out a win.

  3. Pat, you’re going to tick off a lot of the commenters on here with the trust your coach attitude. Some posters here can obviously see what Mullen can’t. Trask throw “with more touch”, “can see the entire field”, etc. Posters know that and Mullen is clueless 😁

  4. I’m still saying something changed in the locker room. Where was the aggressive defensive front Saturday? Something changed after the two week layoff. Guys, it should be clear to all, the regression has a big underlining reason. Its not simply “it will take more time”, that’s a cop out. My theory:
    (1) After the second half of GA, the WHOLE team realizes, when given open receivers 4 of 5 times, poor Franks “can’t hit the side of a barn”. That’s enough to demoralize any team, when you know the offense will not get it done.
    (2) The big guys have “mailed it in”. I want somebody to ask Dan what happened? After UT/MS/LSU, we were a different team! What changed during he layoff and in the second half of GA?
    PS: UK was never better than a C+ team. Unless Bama has massive injuries, the payoff story is over…can’t wait till they pound the media darling ND.

    • What changed in the second half at UGA was Smart got Smart and realized how depleted the secondary was and decided to start exploiting it. Once they lost that game, they realized their main goals were out the window and the give up selfish attitude they’ve had for years kicked in. You know the one where they’ve basically given up on the season after the UGA game the last 3 years? Mullen has done some great things with this team the first 6 games and showed what he’s capable of, but changing the culture and the attitude that was instilled in these players for the last 3 years, is going to take a lot longer than a year. It may not even happen till most of Mac’s players are gone and Mullen fills the roster with his players. One thing we never saw his teams at MSU do, was give up on seasons, they always played hard no matter the situation.

      • Joe…well stated. Guys just were not prepared especially on defense, and I am not sure that can be on the coaches. I thought Del Rio (if you listen to his podcast) was spot on as guys did some of the worst plays one can do…primarily the safeties. Things that you have played enough football to know. Were they asleep in film study or did Mizzou break out all new formations? I was very disappointed in that…and the effort with the oline…that was as bad a performance as they have had this year.

  5. I love the analogy, “it takes time.” Muschamp was handed 4 years. His quote, “don’t let anyone tell you there’s not good football players in that locker room.” Dooley’s response: “yes there are! You just didn’t know what to do with them.” So how much time is required?

    But I digress. Look, I wouldn’t want to be in Mullen’s shoes this week for $10 million. (Well, maybe..half up front in cash?) If you start Trask, and he takes off and leads Florida to a win, right or wrong, the perception is Mullen has no clue what he’s doing. If he starts Franks, the boo birds will be out from play one. Those are the fans that have seen 2017 and 2018 Feleipe. Their mouths are so sour with bad taste they could drink 2 week out of date milk and not know it. So there’s the conundrum. But, if Trask comes out and doesn’t perform, the only thing accomplished is showing the fans first hand, what your coach may already know. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Talk all you want about the personnel on this team; offense, defense, and special teams. But tell me, honestly tell me, would you rather have the roster from 1990 (young healthy and fresh) your first year of coaching a program, or this roster? Ask the same question vs the 2005 roster as well.

    You can blister the team and players all you want. If players are not hustling and not putting out the effort, the bench is the coaches’ best friend. There’s an old fable out there about Bear Bryant. Apparently he showed up to a game with only half the team on the bus. When asked about it, he replied, “this is all that wanted to play.” How interesting it would be to see the faces of players when they go to get on the team bus Friday, and be told, “you get to go home and watch. We’re only taking the players who have shown they want to play in practice.” That’s how you motivate or weed out your athletes based on want to.

    Kadarius Toney has touched the ball well over 60% fewer times than he should have this year. He is a weapon that is not being utilized. Let’s see what happens on Saturday.

  6. On #10…hmmm.

    Again…nothing personal, but we have seen this movie before when the live bullets are going. He may be Marino with the red jersey on in practice…but as Luke Del Rio said on his podcast…who gives you the best chance to win NOW. You can’t put Felipe back out there…and let’s not minimize the 4th down conversions. Those plays were made by young Kyle.

  7. Franks has lost the fans and his team. That is obvious. Having played on a team with an inept QB (his Dad was a big $ booster) I can tell you the results after a couple of games of pure frustration:
    *The offense gets tired of the embarrassment and the blunders and gradually stops giving the “relentless effort” needed to succeed – e.g. hustle downfield for extra blocks, running through tacklers on the sidelines vs. stepping gingerly out of bounds, sacrificial catches over the middle with a world of hurt waiting, concentrating on snap counts and blocking assignments (false starts anyone? failure to pick-up blitz? sound familiar?)
    * The defense sits on the sidelines sucking wind because they already know they are going back in after a 3 and out, probably with worse field position, and highly likely after a bonehead turn-over. Over time they get slower to the ball, fail to wrap-up, lose concentration and intensity and blow coverages and fail to give the effort needed for QB sacks (seen any in the last couple of games?).
    *Special teams mail it in (usually with the exception of the kicker, who may actually get frustrated enough to want to kick a little butt and play like a strong safety). You can see that blocks are held for a shorter time, downfield pursuit slows noticeably, and on the receiving end the return guys wave for fair catch or run out of bounds, while the blockers grab whatever they can take hold of or start nailing guys in the back.
    *The fans, knowing what they see on the field does not reflect what they are hearing from the coaching staff and the players begin to lose intensity and interest. They sit forlornly, or leave early, or don’t show-up at all. They honestly don’t want to boo, but after a couple of bumbling, fumbling, stumbling games, they just can’t hold back.
    *There is no belief in the possibility of win without the hope of a win.
    If all this sounds familiar, then no, we have not been watching film and practices, but we have been watching the games, and we are not hallucinating. If Franks is indeed our best shot at winning, then we have next to no shot at all, unless far inferior teams start showing-up in the SEC. This rebuild isn’t even ready for the smoker. We have yet to scout the deer and unpack the guns. We will need an SEC level QB and an O line that can actually block, then we will need a couple of years at least to develop them help them grow from boys to men.

  8. Coach Mullen said it himsel after losing to Mizzou; it’s crazy to keep doing the same thing over and over if it’s not working. The fans don’t have to attend practices or watch film to agree with him. They want a change. Try something new.

    • Not so fast, my Polynesian pal! Mac benched Franks when LDR was healthy enough to return and only went back to Franks when the fragile LDR experienced yet another season ending injury. So, close but no cigar. Thanks for playing, and enjoy the lovely parting gifts.

  9. saban going to kansas is about like spurrier going to south carolina.

    other teams are daring our qb to beat them again! franks doesnt like a pass rush, among all of the other faults that have been pointed out. its worse for guys like franks at the next level though, not that i care anymore with them, except gators in the pros of course.

    dont forget, we have a nice basketball program and a lot of other good sports too.

  10. Mullen’s playing the cards he was dealt, and to this point he’s played them pretty well. I’m going to sit back and try to enjoy what looks like a positive climb back to SEC championship territory. As Aaron Rodgers said, R-E-L-A-X.

  11. These articles and the comments from the coaches are starting to look like the college version of the Jacksonville Jaguars and their love affair with Blake Bortles. I trust Coach Mullen, and he was dealt a hand he is trying to make the most of. He is doing a good job dealing with it. But this is also a pretty transparent game, given TV, articles, instant replay, former pro and college players commenting on the same things we see with our own eyes. I have never seen an interception overturned after the coaches looked at film after the game. Felipe is a great kid and Gator. I hope he gets better. But given Trask was not playing at all, my vision of him was that he must be horrible. It’s not like Felipe was playing like a a Heisman candidate. He might look better in front of a mirror but he still has to play in front of a team. Trask wasn’t horrible the other day. In fact, he made some throws with touch that FF would have thrown against a radar gun. And if Trask is not a great runner, well, FF doesn’t exactly have the quickest feet in the world either. And quick feet are more important for option type plays than straight running most of the time. FF runs like he has weights tied to his shoes, and he isn’t even running much anyway. So, at worst, they are even in the running dept. Production is more important than potential, and I understand and appreciate you still have to test potential. FF’s potential has been tested. And I am still waiting on the production. If coach thinks he gives us the best shot, then I am behind our coach all the way. Our fear as fans is a repeat of the past into the future. We know the potential of this team and our coach when armed with a great QB. Team first.

  12. Here’s the problem. As a fan or a good coach you want to see progress, you don’t want to see your team crawl and limp to the finish. As a parent you want your baby to grow. You want that baby to crawl, walk then run. If your baby starts running, then can barely walk and finally can only crawl. Would you think there is something wrong?

    What is the future with our program right now with the way things are? Who is going to be the difference maker next year? Franks? Trask? Perine? Scarlett? I just named the 2 deep for qb and rb right now. Who’s going to blossom into a star? Chances are, if you haven’t shown it by your sophomore year then your aren’t going to be a star. Our cbs Henderson, Wilson and now Dean all showed they were going to be good players for us as freshmen. Reese showed it as a freshman and now he’s the player the defense players look to for leadership. There ain’t none of that on offense. No freshman is getting any playing time besides Pierce who we’ve heard great things about and seen him do more with less than the 3 leading ball carriers(Perine, Scarlett and Franks). We have a pretty bad offense yet we keep putting the same people on the field each week and think our results are going to change. Franks is a 3rd year player, Scarlett is a 4th year player, Perinne is a 3rd year player. They are what they are. The olinemen are what they are (Ivey, Johnson, Buchanan, Taylor). You are ignoring history if you thing they are going to all the sudden dominate or be really good players.

    Example BAMA is widely considered to have the best receiving corp right now, All those guys are freshmen or sophomores. The problem they had was their qb couldn’t throw very well(but better than ours) and wasn’t getting them the ball much. Now they have a qb who can throw after Saban got tired of watching his offense sputter yet win games and went to a true freshmen qb. Clemson also canned their veteran starting qb who had an amazing win-loss record for a true freshman. I just names the 2 best teams in the football right now and both of them canned a proven winning qb(each of whom was completely better than our qb) for a true freshman. We can’t do that even though our freshman was considered the future. The present isn’t good .

    When Spurrier took over he shelved the starting qb(Morris) for an unproven nobody in Shane Matthews. He elevate a nobody TE to best catching TE in UF history. Wuerffel who played as a freshman,got canned a few times for Terry Dean, because he was playing poorly. When Meyer took over he put Tebow(freshman) in to make up for a 4 year starter’s deficiencies and through the season Tebow got better. His second year he won the the Heisman. That wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t played extensively as a true freshman. We wouldn’t have won the SEC title much less the National title without playing a ton of true freshmen. The only reason we didn’t win it the next year is because our defense was full of freshmen. We were in rebuilding mode. The following year we won the National title mainly with an incredible defense full of 2nd and 3rd year players who were starters and had played a ton the year before.

    None of those changes have been made. We are playing with same players that we did last year except 1 true freshman cb, who is starting because of injuries, and 2 transfer WRs, neither freshmen, who have a combined 38 catches for 470 yards.

    If you think next year is going to be a much better year, you are kidding yourself. We are going to be playing the same players we did this year other than the players who graduated and you’ll be expecting different results with players that have already reached their ceiling or we will be playing true freshmen and will fairly consistently being picked on like Dean is right now. Who’s going to beat Reese out-Nobody. Who’s going to beat Joseph out-Nobody. Nobody is getting unseated. Just like nobody got unseated this year. The only reason Dean is playing so much is because Wilson is out for the season and dbs are SO depleted.

    Jones should have been worked into the offense 3 or 4 games ago even if it was for 5-10 plays a game. Great skill players with big time NFL futures don’t stay for 4 years unless your name is Manning.

    Insanity-doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

    • I think you’re giving up all hope a little prematurely. First of all, most of those examples you gave are teams that had generational QBs already on the roster. This QB room was far from that when Mullen took over. The team Meyer took over had multiple top 5 classes recruited the previous 2 years, including the #1 overall class the year before. This team had way less talent than that. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that Jones will be the starter next season, and the fact that he hasn’t played much this season shouldn’t be cause for concern. I’ll give 2 recent examples of players who didn’t play a down as freshmen and lit it up as redshirt freshmen. Jameis Winston stepped in and not only won a Heisman, but a national title. Johnny Manziel didn’t win a title, but won the Heisman and brought A&M into national prominence. I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen with Jones, I’m just saying that not playing as a freshman isn’t an indictment of a players skills. They were 6-1 till the last 2 games, so there was no need to force a true freshman into action. Mullen has never in his entire career started a true freshman, and he’s had some pretty damn good ones he could’ve started. He has is way of developing QBs and it seems to have worked pretty well up to this point. No reason to start questioning it now.

  13. If Spurrier was the coach, Trask would be starting this week no doubt.
    If Meyer was the coach, Jones would be starting this week no doubt.
    If Zook was the coach, Jones would have started week 1 or at least been co-starter. Once he got his qb, Leak, got more offensive plays than any other qb except in the very first game.

  14. Sorry. You have to be pretty ignorant to blame The situation Kansas is in on Charlie Weis. Kansas won 5 games total in the two years before Weis got there. They were awful before he got there and they were awful when he left 2 1/2 seasons later.

  15. Until we start recruiting 5 star players this is where we will be. We just don’t have the talent. But look we’re on track, we have I think a solid coaching staff. We just need a couple of years of outstanding recruiting and then we WILL be back on top. Hang in there Gator Nation!!