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.”