Mullen: UF’s quarterbacks going through learning curve

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]

At the moment, Florida’s quarterbacks are all pretty much in the same situation.

They’re young, learning a new offense, struggling.

And coach Dan Mullen has some advice for Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask, Emory Jones and Jake Allen coming off of last Friday’s scrimmage.

Relax, go play and focus on the next play rather than worrying about the previous one.

“I think they were OK,” Mullen said Monday when asked to evaluate the QBs in the scrimmage. “One of the things they have to do is — all of them — just learn how to act. You are always judged on the next play. Too much, I think, they were worried about the last play or trying to force or make a big play on the next play.

“Just manage the game and take it one snap at a time. No matter if your last play was a touchdown or your last play was an interception, no one really cares. You are always going to be judged on the next play. As soon as you start thinking and grasping that concept, you are going to start performing at a higher level.”

All the quarterbacks had difficult stretches during the scrimmage, struggling with consistency and turnovers. It was an especially tough day for Franks, who seemed to start pressing after some early errant throws and interceptions. He did not seem to find his comfort zone until throwing two touchdowns passes late in the scrimmage.

Overall, his numbers reflect a wildly inconsistent scrimmage: seven completions in 22 attempts for 127 yards and two touchdowns to go along with three interceptions.

Franks stopped by the coaches’ office between classes Monday to watch some of the tape of the scrimmage.

“He’s very, very hungry to learn everything about the quarterback position,” Mullen said. “We’ll get him smiling a little bit more at times and lighten up some. We’ll just go out and play some ball.

“He’s a guy that he’s got to learn the situations.”

Mullen told a story about having a quarterback who was a Heisman Trophy candidate a couple years ago having problems coping with the pressure. He found a way to relieve that pressure.

“Go out there and throw a couple picks and you won’t be a Heisman Trophy candidate any more,” Mullen said. “Then he started to laugh. Once he started realizing it really is just about the next play, his performance took off.”

At this early stage, Mullen said the most important thing for Franks and the other quarterbacks is to learn how to manage the game, and a big part of that is just focusing on the next play.

Mullen helped them out in the scrimmage, calling some audibles for them to get the offense in better plays against the defensive look. The QBs will be expected to do it for themselves in the fall.

“Your job is to manage the game and put the offense in the best position to go be successful on every single play,” Mullen said. “Take what the defense gives you, get us into the right play, get us into the right check, know when you want to take a shot down the field, know when you don’t want to take a shot down the field, and manage.”

Mullen said the QBs are struggling with the management part because in many cases they’re focusing too much on the last play instead of the next one.

“If I make a mistake on first down, human nature says on second down I’m going to go make up for that mistake,” Mullen said. “Nope, manage the game. Take what the defense gives you. Put us in the best position to be successful.

“That’s the learning curve they’re going through. They’re fighting through the human nature part of being out there on the field and trying to make things happen or not understanding how to manage the course of the game.”



  1. It’s refreshing having a HC telling the truth about his players (they’re learning) instead of blowing smoke about how great they are (they’re ready) and how they have such a firm grasp of the playbook. It’s easy to have a firm grasp of the playbook when you only have two plays, one a running play that the player doesn’t know which way to run and the other a two yard pass. Coach Mullen may never win a NC here but he is a breath of fresh air after 10 years of second hand smoke. I think his teams will be more exciting than what we’re used to.