Florida redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks is back as the starting quarterback this week after getting benched early in the second half of the Gators’ loss to Michigan last Saturday.
“Yeah, we’ll go back with Feleipe,” UF coach Jim McElwain said Monday. “That was kind of the plan and I think both guys (Franks and Malik Zaire) did some things, some things they’d like back. Like I said after the game, we talked about (playing both) and that was kind of part of what we wanted to do. But we’ll take a look at (Franks) going this week.”
Franks, who was named the starter last Wednesday, was benched after losing a fumble early in the third quarter and replaced by Zaire, who played the remainder of the game.
Both struggled playing behind an offensive line that was overwhelmed by the Michigan defensive front.
Franks’ first pass of the game was a 34-yard strike to Josh Hammond and he led the Gators to a field goal on the first possession of the game. He also had a 16-yard run to convert a third down later in the quarter. But the offense stalled the rest of the time he was in and he was pulled after losing the fumble on UF’s first possession of the second half.
He finished with five completions in only nine attempts for 75 yards. He also tripped and fell twice, once in the red zone when offensive guard Fred Johnson stepped on his foot.
“Feleipe obviously did exactly as he was supposed to do on the first (pass) play,” McElwain said. “He did give us a big first down on a third-down scramble. Ball security is an issue on the next one. We missed on one of the play-actions when we moved the pocket. We probably put it downfield when we shouldn’t have. Those things happen.
“The right guard took the wrong step, stepped on his foot down in the red area. Hitting in on one of the other ones, the running back’s path wasn’t right, which forced him down on one of the play-actions as well. Those are obviously technical things that hurt his performance that were actually caused by others.”
McElwain pulled Franks in favor of Zaire hoping the dual-threat quarterback would give the offense a better chance against the aggressive Michigan defensive front.
But Zaire had major problems moving the offense. He completed nine of 17 passes for 106 yards, but was sacked five times and lost a fumble in his own end zone that was recovered for a Michigan touchdown.
“I thought Malik was looking probably to get out of the pocket first before delivering the ball,” McElwain said. “You can see that from the standpoint of the comfort piece. It’s something he’s got to get better at.”
Zaire may get another chance, but for now, Franks is the starting quarterback.
McElwain said he was pleased with how Franks handled himself in his first start.
“Yeah, no doubt about it (his demeanor is one of his strengths),” he said. “Even going in only playing a little bit, I thought he handled it well and he’s going to be a good player.”
McElwain would not say whether he’ll be sticking with Franks for the long term.
“Yeah, we’ll look at that,” he said. “We’ve got this week of practice and then the game and then we’ll evaluate after that.”
Also, McElwain said defensive back Chauncey Gardner and tight end DeAndre Goolsby had MRIs. And added that fourth-team QB Kyle Trask was injured in practice last week and many need a pin in his foot.
McElwain didn’t give an update on the nine suspended players for the alleged card scam. Freshman receiver James Robinson (cited for marijuana) will return this week, he said.
“I haven’t heard anything,” the UF coach said.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.