Franks, UF focused on confident approach

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks celebrates after a touchdown Saturday against Charleston Southern at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida’s 38-0 first-half scoring barrage against Charleston Southern may seem meaningless in the scheme of things, but it accomplished an important goal: restoring the confidence of the Gators offense.

For nearly a decade now, Florida and its offensive playmakers have heard the outside voices labeling the Gators as a team laden with defensive talent and not much else.

And after a 4-7 season in 2017, the season opener gave Florida a chance to sway the opinions of others — and silence any remaining internal doubt — about UF’s potential on offense this season under new head coach Dan Mullen.

“To have a good game and get a victory is a good thing, it gets the confidence going for us,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “It was a great little confidence-booster.”

Confidence may be key for Franks, who struggled last season in his first glimpses of collegiate action. Saturday featured a seemingly improved Franks — one who didn’t key in on his targets or force any throws en route to a five-touchdown performance in the air.

The quarterbacks coach brought in to unleash his potential, Brian Johnson, believes early confidence is a vital aspect for an inexperienced QB such as Franks. Doubt creeps in when there’s an absence of confidence, and the last thing a UF team with momentum needs is Franks to regress to past habits.

“It’s very, very critical to their success, especially for a young player,” Johnson said of Franks building confidence. “The more success you have, and get off to a good start, it becomes contagious throughout the game. It becomes contagious to your teammates.”

If Franks’ teammates are to be believed, Johnson is right on the money with his assessment of the infectious confidence bubbling around the Crawfordville native.

Besides, if Florida is expected to run the up-tempo offense Mullen intends to employ, there’s no room for any insecurity — especially when it comes to Franks, the “manager” of Florida’s offense.

The confidence of the Franks-led offense on Saturday didn’t go unnoticed by the Florida wide receivers, although several added they had seen signs of his progression in the offseason.

“It was very big for us, being able to start a season off 1-0. It’s always the next game to play in and we’re going to get ready and prepared for Kentucky,” junior wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland said. “This offseason, this summer conditioning, (Feleipe) really pushed himself and he came and worked on his leadership with the team. I feel like that was a big confidence boost for him. I feel like as the weeks go on he’s going to get even better.”

Redshirt senior Dre Massey concurred, adding Franks’ confidence should only increase as he ages, subsequently elevating his ability on the field.

“I would say the most difficult thing would be thinking fast. You just got to click, you got to know what you got, hurry up and get it,” Massey said. “I think being younger, it’s kind of harder to do that, but it goes with confidence and then knowing the playbook.”

Yet for Franks, the elephant in the room isn’t his confidence or talent level, but rather his ability to erase the painful memories of 2017 and become an incisive football player.

It’s clear the talent and physical tools are there for him to be a talented quarterback — it’s also clear it won’t happen with uncertainty and a lack of confidence. For Franks, a short memory and an a confident approach may be the key to a successful career.

“It’s a completely different year, and the world that we live in now, it’s a week-to-week deal with every quarterback. About half the quarterbacks in the country that lost got told on Twitter that they’re terrible. That’s the world we live in — it’s very polarized, and to me, that’s where the mental toughness comes in at the quarterback position, being able to block that stuff out and worry about what really matters, which is your teammates, your feedback from your coaches and your family,” Johnson said of quarterbacks in 2018. “You’ve got to be able to handle that and not let it affect you in terms of how you prepare and how you get ready to go play.”


  1. The jury will be out until October 6th LSU. At that time we’ll look at the record and stats and the verdict will be in. The Gators deserve no recognition until they prove something – and at Tennessee, at Mississippi State and LSU will tell us everything.

    • Gator Steve – I think MSU is going to be a huge test. Going into hostile territory where Mullen may not be welcomed kindly even for all that he did for that program is going to be an interesting dynamic. I think if Florida pulls off that win we might have a real shot of getting 10 wins or more on the year. I know that we shouldn’t look too far ahead, Kentucky has come very close to beating us before and we need to take care of them first.

      • I think they’ll pull off the upset against MSU. Mullen groomed Fitzgerald and every player on that offense, same with Grantham on defense and they both know every weakness of every player on that team. I think they take advantage of it and pull off the win.

      • I loved the Gators snapping at 10 seconds
        I loved that Franks was confident and willing to run like Tebow was.
        Our receivers did NOT show the breakaway skills that FSU showed.
        If Franks plays against U.K. And UT the same way he did last week – we should be able to compete with anybody.
        Don’t ever forget the Gators beat UGA’s superior teams 3 years in a row before last year’s give up season.
        So anything is possible for the Gators.

        • Gator Steve, If a team beat another team three years in a row, the team that got beat three years in a row was not superior to the team that beat that team three years in a row. Georgia was not superior those three years with coaching, talent execution, and the final scores.

  2. The Gators have been boring and hard to watch since Tebow and Leak were around. (Maybe a couple games with Grier too, but he’s dead to me lol). They deserve recognition if the offense isn’t cringy. We need to get gatornation fired up again. Florida is going to beat Kentucky with offense and its going to be fun to watch. Its only gonna get better from here on out gator fans! I refuse to say were in the rebuilding process because its taboo in my opinion to say anything about the gators losing any game ever, but the next few years are looking really bright. This team deserves recognition by the Gator fans for not looking scared on offense for the first time in years, baby steps! 35-17 Gators! Damion Pierce is gonna break one!

  3. IMO there is no date, no test, no anything about one player, particularly Franks. the offense as a whole, the team as a whole, wins or loses. if there is a better qb than franks for UF at the moment I don’t see it. maybe someone will become better, but the coaches would adjust if that day comes.
    I had to have an attitude adjustment about him this off season…blaming Franks for the poor position coach choices at offensive line and wide receiver Mac made makes no sense, or the credit card fiasco, or the mess before the Georgia game, or the defensive line letdown with south Carolina. Its a new season, Franks has demonstrated so far he can throw, make decisions, run and has conveyed confidence. he may not be superhuman, and last year no qb was going to get through that gauntlet without looking bad at some point.
    I never thought LSU could beat Miami, and maybe Mississippi State is really good, and Georgia is tough, so there may be some moments soon no one likes, but lets see what happens. these teams will have to be at their best to beat Franks.

  4. Franks is on his way to becoming an excellent QB – he is developing the discipline required to do so. Lots of film, always thinking how I can improve my execution, developing leadership skills, learning from mistakes, constantly working, constantly improving. My prediction is that if he continues doing what he has been doing since spring training that he has the potential to become the next Tebow. This is not an insult to Franks – it is a compliment. Franks will always be his own man, but maybe, just maybe, we will one day see his statue on campus and his name added to the circle of fame in our stadium. My message to Franks is don’t look back at the wreck in the rear view mirror. Look forward (and sideways) as you check off your receivers. GO GATORS!!!

  5. Glen. It has always been mental with Franks, not physical. Franks took a big step on both the physical and mental sides vs. Charleston Southern. The question is, can he continue that progression this coming weekend vs. much better competition. Fingers crossed.

  6. Franks has started to blossom under the right coaching and scheme and with more talent around him.
    I think he will play within himself on Saturday and manage the game well.
    He can count on the support of his coaches during the game to help keep him in the zone.
    It’s time for the OL to go “Beast Mode.”
    Gators 36- 21.