UF coaches have Franks in comfort zone

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks runs for yards Saturday against Charleston Southern at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

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.



    • Mike let me ask you something. Are you much more comfortable going into the Kentucky game than you have been in the last 2 years? I think that’s what last night’s performance against a weak team accomplished. I’m pretty sure we all feel a little more comfortable with the offense moving forward than we have in a while.

      • Joe, to answer your question, I do feel more comfortable with both QB and coaching going into the KY game. I am cautiously optimistic but just don’t want to get too excited until I see a bit more from this team against better competition. P.S. There must be another GatorMike b/c I have never commented on Franks but I did comment about the ice crunching in PD’s post game Swampcast last night!

        • Fair enough Mike, we’re all on that continuum from cautiously optimistic to wildly optimistic, and there’s not a one of us who doesn’t want to see us against an SEC team early on so we will have a much better appreciation of where we really are.

          Boy, you sure sound like Mike the UF Engineer to me.

          Florida 36 – Kentucky 14.

          • There might be a few stumbles here and there, Smith — if the players get the jitters playing an actual SEC team — but the only way that happens is if they buy into the developing story line that Chas Southern was a midget Pop Warner team. I don’t think Dan Mullen will let that happen, and will keep it all in proper perspective….but at the same time, open up the playbook a tad more and even let the beast emerge.

            God knows I can’t wait until Saturday! 65, if you’re reading this, time for a countdown.

          • So some of you are at least only cautiously optimistic, but am I alone in not having any optimism towards Franks? He may even win next week, not because of his ability, but because the coaches are smart enough to call the right game for him. However, that won’t work against real competition (your GAs and ALs).

            Everyone keeps saying that he went through his progressions well and made good reads, but I just didn’t see that. Admittedly I would like to re-watch the game, but it seemed to me that he was late on almost every throw, and several times he made a read that was okay, but a much better one had been available (both on RPOs and standard pass plays where he chose the wrong receiver).

            Look, I get it, Timmy was pretty dumb (not an attack, just a statement of fact) and Dan still managed to make him a Heisman quarterback. So you think maybe he can do it with Franks. Though Franks may have a few IQ points on Tim (debatable), there are two things he doesn’t have, the Tebow will (see Ole Miss speech), and more importantly, the most dynamic player the game has ever seen catching his passes and taking his hand-offs. Franks is meh copy of Tebow, with no Percy Harvin.

            I guess where most people saw improvements in Franks, I only saw improvements in play calling and coaching, and I don’t think that is enough to get him to the level of a proper UF quarterback.

  1. I would say that the win is not the basis for feeling better about what Franks might be able to accomplish. It is the way he handled the offense, showed confidence, and went through some progressions on some of the plays. He did none of these things well last year, even against a weak opponent such as UAB. Obviously, we still need to see how he does against a better caliber opponent, but the signs are good and there is nothing wrong with recognizing that.

    • Yes. Very well said. He finally has a competent coaching staff working with him, and it shows. I love reading about how they are all communicating, talking about what he feels comfortable with…etc… Installing the offense progressively. I was very pleased with the execution that first game regardless of the team. I feel good about our quarterback. He protected the ball!!!! How awesome was that so se?

  2. This is the way I see it. We do not have a QB that can win a game for us and probably don’t need it. What we can’t afford is a QB that loses the game. So, Franks needs to feel confident and try not to do too much. A game such as last week builds him up so he is not playing scared. The coaches know that he won’t have it as easy next week. There job gets harder but they want to maintain a somewhat confident QB. Baby steps and spoon feeding. Hopefully by the UT game he will be asked to do more to help his team, but I can’t imagine he will be asked to put the team on his back anytime this year.

  3. When and if Florida goes up and down the field on U.K. Saturday, these commenters will say, ”It was ONLY Kentucky, the real test will come when Florida plays in Knoxville… plays L.S.U…. plays Miss. State in Starkville…” This is EXACTLY why Pat Dooley famously said, ”Nobody SUFFERS WINNING like Florida fans.”
    But as long as they keep WINNING, I don’t give a damn what Pat & Robbie write about, or what the trolls say. GO GATORS JUST DO IT!

  4. Having a much better receiving corps has to help Franks’ confidence level. Talented receivers always make a qb look better. So does minimul pressure from a vanilla defense. Still, without a doubt, Franks is clearly benefiting from Mullen’s tutelage and play calling. The skill he showed on several plays delivering the ball in tight places with nearly perfect timing was impressive. Not bad at all. Watching him intelligently running the offense on Saturday made me start favorably considering that he’s got what it takes to be a good, maybe even great, SEC qb after all. Even if it takes a year.


    !! Randy

  6. Kudos go out to the coaches. You brought fun back to the SWAMP for players and fans. Keep up the great work. Equally as important, Franks looked much more comfortable in the pocket by keeping it simple and giving him packages that he could execute. Well done! He performed well with five TD’s to a multiple receivers and he even got the TE’s in game. You can see Franks’ confidence growing. Trask is a reliable back-up whose confidence will grow with each game played.
    Against an improved Kentucky team , I recommend we do more of the same. Keep it simple. Maybe add 1-2 plays that Franks is comfortable with. The big need is to fix the OL. The protection was ok and that’s a start, but they should have opened up more wholes for the running backs. (BTW- Give Dameon Pierce the ball more.) Let’s get the personnel right on the OL. Too many high snaps at Center. If Hege is ready, give him a shot at Center.The Special teams were electric. Work ’em silly Gators!

    Against Kentucky, I recommend they keep itmpolke again bit get the OL to

  7. What I saw was Mullen simplifying the offense and playing to the strengths of the cards he is dealt with….ie coaching. Franks was much more in command and our defense was back to being the aggressor. I was pleased with the opening act, of course knowing the opponent and also seeing what they did to that opponent.

    Also, this was NOT even close to showing our true potential as you know we went very base in our offense and have much more to show during the SEC portion of the season.

  8. What a pleasure to watch after what we had to endure with old “Butterchucks” the last few years. Want to see something funny? Go on to Michigans football website and read his accolades. In his bio it reads, and I quote, “McElwain’s units were explosive on offense during his time at Florida, especially through the passing game.”