Florida quarterbacks’ solid spring start

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Florida coach Dan Mullen slaps quarterback Feleipe Franks with a foam block as part of a drill during practice last month at the Sanders Practice Fields on the UF campus. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Only three practices into the spring, it’s far too early to declare a leader in the quarterback competition. But it’s apparently easy to spot the one who is the most comfortable at the moment.

That would be Feleipe Franks, last year’s starter.

“I think just his comfort being on the field,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said Wednesday. “You look at him. Kyle (Trask) has a good understanding of the game as well. But you can see with Feleipe his experience, having been out there and playing and being in the huddle and being in there with pass rushers and having played a little bit more college football. You can see that with him in his comfort out there on the field.”

Overall, the quarterbacks seem to be off to a solid if not spectacular start this spring. They’re learning a new offense and going through the installation process, so there is a learning curve for everybody.

Mullen says he’s got some talent to work with.

“I like the work ethic they have,” he said. “They have some arm talent. Watching those guys throw the ball, they definitely have some arm talent and ability to make a lot of different throws, which is fun to coach. You can put some more things in. You can do things, you can do it around their ability to throw the ball.

“Accuracy, though, is the most important thing. I’d rather take a very, very accurate quarterback over a guy that throws it 80, 70-80 yards and just explaining that to them and understanding that.”

Mullen and the offensive coaches will continue to install more of the offense as the spring progresses. They haven’t put in a whole lot yet, but what they have has been handled well by the quarterbacks, Mullen said.

“I’ve been pleased with how they’ve picked things up within the offense,” Mullen said. “It’s going to take a lot of reps before they get comfortable. But I haven’t seen the confused looks out of any of them yet. But it’s through three days.

“We’ve got another installation tomorrow. Eventually what you want to see is when it catches up to them and they eventually give you the deer-in-the-headlight look where kind of, ‘OK, my brain is now like maxed with all the stuff you’re throwing at me.’ ”

So far, it appears true freshman quarterback Emory Jones is keeping up with the more experienced quarterbacks. He’s the one true dual-threat QB in the group, and obviously the most comfortable when the situation calls for him to run the ball.

Jones also showed some arm strength and accuracy in last Saturday’s open practice.

“He’s a high school kid coming in cool and collected a little bit, not panicking,” co-offensive coordinator John Hevesy said. “You see him in there trying to make his reads, trying to do things. Everything is a little slower than it is for the two older guys that have been around for at least college football. But to me, just impressed with how he’s handled his mannerisms in the huddle. On the line of scrimmage, he’s done a very good job.”

Perhaps the forgotten player in the quarterback race is Kyle Trask, who emerged as a contender for the starting role last spring, but injured his knee early in the 2017 season and wasn’t heard from again.

The redshirt sophomore is back, zipping the ball around the practice field. He’s also shown he can make some things happen with his legs.

“He’s got a live arm,” Mullen said. “Throws the ball really well. He’s got a lot of talent. Watching him, I think he’s bought in to what we want to do.

“I tell (the quarterbacks) that running aspect, I just want you to be a willing runner. If the defense gives you the opportunity to run, go run and go do it. He’s shown a decent bit of athleticism to be able to run the ball as well.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. I like the comment that “I just want the qb to be willing to run”. After watching Chris Leak attempt to run this offense in 05 and 06, I hope whomever wins the job will run with a purpose. Chris was a great qb, but it was painful watching his rushing attempts at times.

    • Few people perform well under pressure, thats why there are so few elite QB’s. But there’s no way to tell except to be put in a game, and to be playing from behind! Who knows which QB actually has the best ability to play under pressure. Apparently it doesnt translate from Highschool, I guess the higher level of competition negates that. Even Tebow didnt perform well until he got hit. I remember so many games where he struggled until he got hit. It seemed to make him mad and he quit thinking and started reacting. I used to hope he got hit early every game. I used to wish someone would assign another player just to slap him early every game just to get him in the right mindset, beast mode!

      • i’m getting old , can not recall his name.
        The kid from charlotte that beat very good ols miss team.
        He went to play at west vir i think.

        anyway he threw the 100,000 times in HS

        he was ready to be throwing QB in collage.
        he saw the field / made quick decisions and throw the ball before linemen got to him.
        so he was only QB that saw success.
        His quick decisions negated poor offensive line that got QB injured.

        i still hate that he left.

        In hind site, UF would have been better off guaranteeing him starting QB when he returned from suspension. UF had lots of injured QB after him.
        He might have won a number of games that UF lost.

        he is only QB that was productive since tebow.

  2. I want brain talent first and foremost. No matter how good your arm if you don’t choose the right target and adjustments you won’t be as successful as we need to be at that position. We have several options which is good since one might get injured and need a good backup.

    • @vulcan – Exactly, and that is why I love the fact that Coach Mullen just stated that he will take accuracy always over arm strength (hint: Not Felipe Franks last year). It takes intelligence for the QB to be accurate always, not every time, but always looking to be accurate. Not sure if Franks actually has that in him, but we will see.

  3. Is it true that every time he throws an interception in practice Felipe Franks pounds his chest and screams “I’m Tom Brady, mofos!!! I throw interceptions and that makes me just like Tom Brady!!!”

  4. Nice article Robbie. Please don’t post the article again this year about how the offensive line “will be a team strength”. It hasn’t been true the last 5 years y’all have posted that same article, and I’m sure it won’t be true this year. Or, if you are contractually obligated to post it, maybe title the article “Will the offensive line be a flaming pile of garbage this year?” just to change things up.

  5. The garbage still resides in DC. 19 year old.kids who work their asses off in 80% humidity….sun and rain then study at night are strong giving kids back to team and school. Choose your words for another school.

  6. The only reason the o-line would look good is no one is on the other side. Unless Mullen’s changes the o-line I don’t care if Tom Brady is back there, he won’t be accurate with DL’s in his face the entire game.

  7. you never know who will prove out to be the best, a few times weve had no names turn out to be really good, like kerwin bell, bob hewko, and shane matthews . I still think kadarius toney has the proven vision, brain talent, intent to run, etc., but he isn’t even out there at qb. life is funny about who gets the chances sometimes, maybe its due to the uncertainties about whether the transfer guys get a shot or not at wr. anyway it isn’t good news for me to hear franks is the best looking one, although I can accept being proven wrong if we get results out of it.