With less than a minute remaining in regulation, Florida looked to set up a drive that would at least put Eddy Pineiro in position to kick a game-winning field goal.
It was a scenario that UF has been in before this season – wins over Tennessee and Kentucky came on fourth-quarter rallies – but this time there would be no rally. In fact, the Gators would need just one play to seal their fate.
Feleipe Franks’ pass was bobbled and intercepted by Texas A&M linebacker Tyrel Dodson, handing Florida its second consecutive home defeat under Jim McElwain and giving UF its worst start since 2003.
While Franks, who accounted for just 129 yards passing on 17 completions, could have avoided taking accountability for the offensive futility, the redshirt freshman owned up to his mistakes and shortcomings in the 19-17 loss to the Aggies.
“There’s obviously little things that we can work on. I can do a better job in a lot of aspects. Ultimately it’s my job to get the offense moving,” Franks said. “There’s some series’ here and there where you want that to happen, but I didn’t make that happen. Ultimately it’s on me and something to improve on.”
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Crawfordville native making just his fifth collegiate start.
With Florida looking to pull ahead late in the third quarter, Franks escaped a collapsing pocket and took off for a 79-yard dash to put the Gators in scoring distance. Dre Massey would capitalize from the Wildcat formation to put Florida in front 17-10, but the rest is history.
To Franks and the UF fanbase that watched a lead slip away, however, the missed plays stood out the most.
Franks appeared to have senior wide receiver Brandon Powell alone downfield on a critical third down, yet he threw it underneath to tight end DeAndre Goolsby. The pass led to another stalled drive and another Johnny Townsend punt, one of his nine punts on the night. After the drive, Powell appeared frustrated and addressed his quarterback directly.
“It’s just one of those things. I mean, I can’t see the whole field,” Franks said. “Just one of the things I missed.”
Despite the offensive mediocrity and the missed opportunities, Franks is adamant the UF locker room is focused on improving as a unit rather than pointing fingers and casting blame. With two weeks to prepare before facing SEC East-rival Georgia in Jacksonville, the Gators seemingly can’t afford to be divided.
“I don’t think motivation is a problem for us. We have a bunch of great leaders in the locker room,” Franks said. “People are going to say what they want to say. Nobody is really in the locker room with us. That’s the big thing. You can’t listen to the outside sources. Nobody is in the locker room with us. People actually don’t know. We have a bunch of great leaders in the locker room and we’re going to be just fine.”
Who: Florida (3-3, 3-2 SEC) vs. No. 3 Georgia (7-0, 4-0)
When: 3:30 p.m. Oct. 28
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850