Franks ready to take next step at Florida

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks runs a drill during the first practice of the spring at the outdoor practice field on the UF campus on Feb. 28, 2017. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is still in the early stages of his development under coach Dan Mullen, so being named the starter for the Saturday’s opener is, well, just a start.

He still has a long way to go to become the quarterback he and others expect him to be, and he knows it.

“I’ve got a lot of ways to go growing as a player, a quarterback,” Franks said after Tuesday’s practice. “But I think Coach Mullen and Coach Johnson are doing a good job of moving it along a little quicker than what I was doing myself. It’s going good. I’ve just got to keep continuing to grow.

“The determination I’ve had all summer and all fall camp has just led up to this moment now. I have to continue to keep on growing. It’s not over yet. Just winning this spot, it’s not over. You have to keep on going and continuing to keep growing to get wins.”

After competing with Kyle Trask and Emory Jones throughout the spring and preseason camp, Franks, who started eight games last season, was named the starter Monday.

He knows the doubters are out there after the difficult year he and the staggering offense went through last season. He’s embracing the fact that he’s won the job and will have a chance to show how much he — and the offense — has improved.

“It was good (being named the starter),” he said. “Just a lot of people out there who are doubting me, doubting our team. Just overcoming some of that adversity is just a good thing. Just to get that feeling and getting the flow back, getting back to going with the offense just getting things moving again.

“I think this is a good thing. We have a good thing going at Florida and we’re going to get the offense back going.”

Franks seems confident that he and the offense will start showing Saturday night that he is a different quarterback — and this is a better offense — than last fall.

“The first game we just want to show how much our offense has improved,” he said. “We’ve all worked super hard this summer and this fall camp. So just to go back out there and kind of get things where we can stay on the field on third downs, when we get in the red zone putting points up, not settling for field goals.

“Little things like that we have to improve on from last season, just kind of like the main things we’ve focused on.”

Last season was a huge struggle for Franks, who had problems making the right reads, finding the open receivers and then delivering the ball on target. It didn’t help that he was sacked so often and the offense was missing its best running back (Jordan Scarlett) and best wide receiver (Antonio Callaway) due to a season-long suspension.

Scarlett said Franks is now in an offense that’s a better fit for his skill set and there are more playmakers around him to help him succeed.

“I think it’s a lot better,” Scarlett said of Mullen’s offense. “A lot of people don’t realize Feleipe is a really good athlete. He can make a lot of guys miss. He’s actually pretty fast. I feel Coach Mullen is making the system work really well for him.

“He definitely has a lot more weapons this year, a lot more to choose from, from the receiving corps to the running backs. There’s definitely a lot more guys out there that are talented. He won’t have a problem.”

Franks, of course, will be called on to run at times in Mullen’s offense. One of the reasons he won the starting role, Mullen said Monday, is his ability to scramble and make plays with his legs.

Franks seems OK with the running role he’ll be asked to fill.

“I’m pretty confident,” he said. “I can run the ball. I can throw the ball. It doesn’t really matter to me. Whatever they ask of me I’m willing to do.”

Franks knows there will be many fans who show up for Saturday night’s game still doubting his ability. But he said he doesn’t necessarily feel he has something to prove.

“I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody,” he said. “It’s just going out there and build the confidence back up for the team so we can win. That’s what it’s all about — winning.”

64 COMMENTS

    • There has been a lot of blame on Franks and deservedly so, but let’s not forget our line was High School last year. If those guys have not improved, Coach can use all thre QB’s at the same time and it wouldn’t make a difference. Those guy’s seem to have gotten a pass on their POOR performance. Let’ wait 3 – 4 weeks and give them all the benefit of the doubt and see where their performances are during the first 4 weeks. GO GATORS!!!!

  1. Hopefully they got a vodoo priestess to go through that locker room to get rid of all the bad mojo from the last regime. Hell the last 2 regimes plus anything Meyer may have left in there.

    Not often in life do you get the chance to hit the reset button so completely. Frank’s was given that opportunity with the coaching change. He took the first step by winning the starting job. I am very excited to see him take the next by managing the game and hitting open receivers.

    Exciting times!

  2. I know that fans are just fans and coaches are the ones who really know what’s what, but show me a team or player that the fans were down on who really produced. Then I will show you players who coaches were down on who really produced. Say, Fran Tarkenton (who Van Brocklin hated) and Tim Tebow in the NFL who the coaches hated and did not give a real try (they would not have used him in Denver the year he took them to the playoffs, except they didn’t have a choice) and Doug Flutie who coaches never gave a chance to except when the number one got injured and then Flutie did nothing but win. So, when fans altogether think Franks won’t make it, believe them and not the coaches who are sometimes a little wishful (see Jacoby Brissett vs. what’s his name, Driscoll). I would love for Franks to prove me wrong, but I would give odds of over 5-1 that he won’t, nor will he be starting the 3d game.

  3. It’s a much simpler offense (at the line), which benefits Franks. And this type of ‘O’ leans on the Q.B.’s athletic abilities more (see: Tim Tebow). And I am just so ready for the whole damn team (except transfers Jefferson & Grimes and the freshman, who had NOTHING to do with last year: WLECOME FELLAS!) to wipe away the memories of the last 8-9 years of ”ineffective offense” (at U.F., that’s a straight up enigma).
    And in ‘1’ season too, no doubt. No pressure! But seriously, I’m very hopeful, and definitely expecting more from Mullen’s Gators. Just do it, Gators! Just do it!

  4. I know the Missouri QB went from the out house to the pent house. Peyton Manning had a god awful first year in the NFL. 4 times the bucs sent QB s packing only to see them turn out to be elite some where else.
    I know the fans would prefer will Grier but somehow Mac messed up. And mac is now an assistant coach. I think Franks is good enough to win and that’s a good start.
    Look even the tua guy at Alabama had some non highlight real moments last year. I give Franks credit..he has tolerated his share of the blame and done it without anything but a first class heart. No he’s not Tim tebow but I say he becomes an all sec QB before he leaves here.

    Did anyone think Shane Matthews would do that in the beginning? Kerwin bell? Even Danny had trouble holding the starting job his first year. Have a little faith in Mullen and Franks i say.

  5. Regardless of what one thinks of his performances last season, we absolutely have to feed him nothing but positive “vibes” while he and the offense are out on the field, just as we usually do with the defense. The team will feed off our support. The last thing we need is to build resentment and a “we’ll show them” attitude and “bunker mentality” on the team. Nothing good ever came from constant negative criticism. Really, as fans there will be times when we have to help carry the team with our own versions of fight and hustle. I know it is not easy, especially after the last few years, but if we stay upbeat and positive “in all kinds of weather” it can easily make a difference between going 6/6 or 10/2 (or, gasp! 12/0?). If Gator Nation is to become #1 again, we all have a part to play!

    • Well said Trooper. I think it’d be terrible to hear the boo birds come out first time we have to punt. I want this offense to put up points as bad as anyone. It’s naive to think that there won’t be a few bumps and hiccups along the way.

      • Expectations are sky high, SoCal, and Dan Mullen hasn’t done a damn thing to promote the hype except do his job. So if we don’t lay 50 on Chas Southern, and that’s somehow considered a failure, it is much later than we all think, for all the wrong reasons. If that starts, I swear, I’ll turn off the TV.

        OK, I’ll turn it off after the game is over, but you know what I mean. 😉

    • Amen brother!

      Remember how bad Chris Leak looked in Meyer’s system the first year? Then boom, unexpected national,championship the next. I’m not saying or expecting the same result but it helps to have a little,perspective at times. Look at at Kirby’s first and second years as well. In the wise words of Aaron Roger, “Reeeelaaaaaaaaaaaaaaax.”

  6. A couple of things:
    1) with all the baggage of last year’s crappy performance (the offense was terrible and so was Franks), ingive the kid credit for coming out on top this year. Not sure how it’s gonna work out, but I firmly trust that Mullen is in the best position to make the best decision.
    2) disagree with Scarlett. I think most knowledgeable fans think Franks is an absolute beast athletically. Can he wrap his brain around the game? I guess we’ll find out together.
    3) agree with trooper. There is a lot of queasiness and negativity in the fan base because of the pain associated with the past 9 years. Somehow we have to collectively find the ability to support the team if all signs point in the right direction, even if the win/loss record isn’t where we want it from the get go.

    • Winning cures everything. And I’ll add progress to the equation too.

      The bar has been set extremely low for Franks. The majority of the fan base expects him to lay an egg this season. If he just goes out there, manages the game, and doesn’t look like a deer in the headlights that will be a vast improvement over last year. Nobody questions Franks ability from the neck down. What goes on from the neck up has been a liability to this point.

      CDM has watched enough film on Franks from last year, and seen enough in practice this year, to know what he is working with. He’ll work the offense around what Franks can and can’t do. I wouldn’t expect Franks to be the focal point of the team. CDM, at least early on in the season, will make Franks a game manager. And if Franks can prove to CDM that he is an asset and not a liability I expect CDM to open up the playbook a little more each week. This year, in my opinion, will be a run first offense. Spread the offense out and get the ball in the hands of the play makers. I wouldn’t expect to see Franks to throw for 400+ yards anytime soon.

      Go Gators!

  7. Trooper, totally agree! Whether we like the starter or not, Gator Nation has to be positive and supportive. That includes NO BOOING! The fans can have an enormous impact on the players–what we say here and our responses in the Swamp.

  8. Prove me and GATOR NATION Wrong Franks. But, 1) He stares down Recievers 2) He has a slow release and gets the ball slowly out of his hands 3) When he runs he doesn’t protect the ball 4) He doesn’t go through progressions or know how to read a Defense. Forgive me to say but, these are basic things a Quarterback should know.

    PS Hell yeah Coaches make mistakes all the time. Prime example UF coaches making Cam Newton 3rd String begind a Horrible John Brantley…..That’s what started the begging of the end for Meyer in GVILLE. What could have been IF the Coaches choose Newton over a Legacy ie Brantley WHAT IF

    • In complete fairness to John Brantley and Cam ( and I was no big fan of John Brantley, Jr. and Cam Newton). However, Cam Newton STOLE A LAPTOP COMPUTER, threw it out of his window when U.P.D. showed up at his place, and left U.F on his own. So, really ”what if Cam didn’t STEAL A LAPTOP, what if…”
      And that is the ”historical truth”, which I know is not big thing on university campuses lately, and sadly.

  9. If he really does not feel he has a lot to prove to everyone he has a big issue. I bet this is not the truth. What he needs to prove is that he can use his brain to make the right decisions. Read the defense and make the right decisions. Of course his team mates need to do their jobs properly as well.

  10. Honestly, sounds like a bunch of optimistic rationalizations to me. The proof is in the putting. Time to look back and say “great game, this kid is growing up before our eyes.” Not setting myself up for failure. I will believe it when it happens. I’m only hopeful it will and this era of QB irrelevance ends now.

  11. Like most of you here, I am rooting for Franks to be successful, but will wait until Game 2 before declaring success or not. Having said that, if Franks truly is successful this season, it will make the previous regime look THAT MUCH WORSE.

  12. Guarantees:

    1. The offense will be better and will keep getting better all season long.
    2. Franks will shock people with how different he is this year, and he will improve throughout the season.
    3. Mistakes will be corrected.
    4. Our hurry up offense, should we run it, will not be slower than our regular offense.
    5. We will see something known as a downfield pass, and Gator fans will weep with joy!
    6. Mullen will not be caught in a compromising position with a shark.

    These are all 100% certainties. We have bleached the disgusting yellow stains from the teeth of the mighty Gator, and the time has come to CHOMP our way to GLORY!!!!!!

  13. I got my tickets for Saturday night. Can’t wait. Taking my 10 year old grandson with me to see his first real Gator game. He is super excited. Everybody needs to get out there and buy up the remaining tickets and fill The Swamp and support the team. Show the players we are going to support them. There are still quite a few tickets out there for the game. It would be great to see a sell out! Go Gators!

  14. The more I read comments from players about how this staff does things compared to the prior, the more I believe our jump is going to be quicker and larger than most expect. It’s one thing when the last staff was just not coaching at the super elite level that is expected at UF. It’s a whole other thing when the prior staff appears clueless in almost all aspects of the game. I think just bringing competence to special teams and strength and conditioning is a couple more wins if we do nothing else.

    I have had my first afternoon bourbon, but I think CDM will be in the argument as SEC coach of the year when it all plays out. And that is 2 pronged. 1- My 9 year old could upgrade Strength and Conditioning and Special Teams from where it was; 2- CDM is a helluva coach and is going to get the offense to perform at a high level.

    Work em silly Gator’s!

  15. Did anyone see anything in the last few years to make then think any quarterback was going to be successful in the McElwain/Nus offense? How many QBs in the last 8 years went to other schools and succeeded and made the pros? Perhaps the issue has been less the talent (with some exceptions…sorry Harris) and more the offense and coaching. Let’s give the Mullen/Franks combo a chance before we get too depressed about Franks still starting.

    It is not that unusual for a player with a fresh start under a new coach to blossom and realize their potential.

  16. The brief blip of success we had with Will Grier had me hopefull and then Chester Cheetos Teeth promptly ran him off because Will was more into dolphins than sharks.

    That along made me hope longer than I should have.

    • You may be the smartest, wisest, and most knowledgeable person of all time but your gratuitous name calling paints a totally different picture of someone with arrested development who is stuck in the high school adolescent stage trying to bully others. I suppose it’s a sign our our times when our chief executive has made these types of acts fashionable and set the example for our kids to emulate. Where are the adults in this country who should step up and speak out about such emotional abuse?

      • Yes, if only the righteous Sly was my mentor instead of Trump. Sadly, you’re not so I’ll just continue to emulate him and continue along my path of being a big big bully.

        An insult is an insult. You’re just more poetic in your insults but I’m sure you won’t be able to see your own hypocrisy. However, if denial helps you sleep at night…rest well.

          • Sorry, didn’t respond directly. Wasn’t the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Sticks and stones, sticks and stones.

          • Not joining your bully club or any bully club. Just pointing out that it’s unacceptable social behavior and sometimes it takes a gentler form of your own medicine to make you realize it. Apparently it did not work.

          • Shoot and I thought you were making progress in seeing your own hypocrisy. Just to be clear, you think repaying an insult with an insult would reap a positive outcome in lieu of more insults? You’ve have heard (and I’m paraphrasing) that repaying violence with more violence only begets more violence.

            If you’re going to take the higher ground (which I do applaud you for at least trying), then truly take the higher ground. Giving me “some of my own medicine” only shows me your not above what you’re chastising me for. Just something to think about if you truly want someone to see the error in their ways and reform. Otherwise, you’re just an angry mob that wants retribution for a perceived wrong.

            What I do regret is getting in this non-sports related debate.

          • I understand your tactics trying to turn the debate to focus on hypocrisy rather than your unacceptable social behavior. Sad that you believe name calling and bullying is acceptable behavior.

          • My tactic is trying to point out the plank in your eye but I’m failing miserably, or you’re a lost cause.

    • Wait a minute…..wait a minute….wait! I’ve been gone all day, everything was fine the morning when I left, I come back tonight and two of my favorite Gators are actually in some sort of pissing contest all of a sudden? What in the world? C’mon brothers….we’re all keyed up about Saturday, but don’t start tearing each other apart now.

      I know, I know….my own pissing contests are probably legion, I’m a fine one to talk, none of my business….but I got no class anyway. But you guys? You’re the good guys so put it back together before ’65’s countdown runs out! 🏈

  17. DallasGator and Sly, I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, but I enjoy reading both your opinions, so like 6, I hate to see you two going at each other. Dallas, I appreciate the passion that produces your colorful descriptive references to our former coach, “and yet”, I agree with Sly that they can be immature. I will acknowledge my own hypocrisy, though, because I do think “Dumbo” Fisher is hilarious, just not as much since he’s no longer the Noles coach.

    With that, here goes my rendition of the pot calling the kettle black: it would be great if you two could put aside your pride and extend an olive branch, smoke a peace pipe, kiss and make up, and give each other a digital hug and handshake, ’cause it’s time for Gators everywhere to circle the wagons. Go Gators!