Florida coach Dan Mullen always wants his quarterback to be comfortable and confident in what he’s doing.
That’s clearly the state Feleipe Franks was in Saturday night in the Gators’ 53-6 win over Charleston Southern.
In sharp contrast to last season, the redshirt sophomore appeared comfortable with everything he was asked to execute — the reads, the QB runs, the RPOs (run-pass option), even the jump pass that went for a touchdown.
The result was the best performance of his career — 16-of-24 passing for 219 yards and five touchdowns in just one half.
The goal now is to keep Franks in the comfort zone as the season progresses.
“I’m getting there,” Franks said Monday. “It doesn’t happen overnight. Coach Mullen has said that for a quarterback to really start to thrive and really get comfortable in the offense, it can take up to a year.
“So, it doesn’t happen over a summer or over a fall camp. It’s just progressing. I’m getting more and more comfortable every day in it, and they’re helping me with that progression coming a little faster.
“I feel more comfortable in it than I was in the summer and than I was in the fall. I feel more comfortable today than I was Saturday. I’m just trying to progress every day.”
Mullen made sure Franks was comfortable in the season opener by giving him a game plan that he knew Franks could handle. And he did, executing it almost flawlessly.
Franks made the correct reads, went through his progressions to find the open receivers, threw with accuracy and executed the run-pass option plays. As a result, the offense flew up and down the field throughout the first half.
“We tried to keep it pretty simple for him in game one,” Mullen said. “When we put in the whole playbook you have a foundation. Each week we’ll pull parts of that out and try not go overboard with too much and put too much on him until he’s comfortable learning everything and operating within the offense.”
Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson will give Franks more of the playbook this week with the Gators heading into SEC play against Kentucky.
But they won’t give him anything that Franks isn’t comfortable with. Franks will have a say in that.
He said he’ll meet with Mullen and Johnson at some point in the week and discuss what he’s comfortable with and what he’s not. Those meetings will take place before every game.
“You’ve got to be on the same page as the coaches on what plays you’re comfortable with and being able to communicate with them what plays you’re not comfortable with that are in the game plan,” Franks said. “You don’t want to call a play that you don’t really know fully. You could look like a fool running a play you don’t really know.
“We all need to be on the same page and I think we’re all on the same page. It’s been really good so far.”
So far, the coaches have given Franks the things he has shown he can handle, including the tricky RPOs that require a quick decision by the quarterback on whether to hand the ball off to the running back, pull it from the back and run, or pull it and pass.
Franks deftly executed the RPOs on Saturday night, which is an indication of the progress he’s made. He probably couldn’t have done that four or five months ago.
Franks said the RPOs were mind boggling at first, but he’s been coached up to where they are have become second nature to him.
“They set up a really good plan for me,” he said. “It was, ‘This is what you need to look at. This is what you need to do. Don’t run this versus this look.’ Stuff like that. They do a really good job of that, so it kind of makes it easy on me.”
That’s the plan. Make it easy on Franks, give him a little bit more each week, and watch him — and the offense — grow.
It worked for first game. Now it’s on to the second.
“We’re just tapping into our potential, just scratching the surface,” Franks said.