Notebook: Franks takes another step in development

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks passes Saturday against Kentucky at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Just like everybody else in a Gator uniform, quarterback Feleipe Franks had his share of struggles in the loss to Kentucky. But he also appears to have taken another step forward in his development.

The obvious sign of that was how he handled himself when the Gators really needed a score late in the fourth quarter. Franks came up clutch in leading UF on a 99-yard touchdown drive that put the Gators back in the game with 3:34 left to play.

Along the way, he kept the drive alive by checking down to running back Lamical Perine for an 18-yard gain to convert a fourth-and-seven from the UK 32.

“I thought he made a couple poor decisions, but overall, I did not have a big issue with his performance for where he’s at with this development,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “A couple things where, ‘Hey, they gave you this read.

Just get across your progression, check it down over here, just take that throw and go play the next play.’

“Just take what they give us. And you saw him do that on the big fourth-down conversion. He didn’t throw it 7 yards, but we were able to get the first because he made the right read, got it to the guy that could get 7 yards instead of forcing it to a guy that was double or triple covered 10 to 12 yards down the field.”

Franks struggled some with his accuracy and he failed to see a wide-open Malik Davis in the right corner of the end zone on the failed two-point attempt.

Overall, though, his numbers were solid: 17 of 38 for 232 yards and two touchdowns, along with an interception.

Wide receiver Josh Hammond said Franks has become a much more mature player in the huddle and on the field.

“Completely different quarterback from last year,” he said. “He’s grown a lot. Him going through last year definitely helped him excel and take those steps to being a leader, to being a true quarterback, to help him make those drives at the end of the game, to pull the offense together in rough times.

“And just let everybody know that things are OK. He keeps everybody calm. He stays calm, and just having that calmness allows everybody to relax and focus on what they need to do to succeed.”

Defense moving on

The secondary has been hit hard by injuries, the latest casualty being starting cornerback Marco Wilson, who is out for the season after tearing his ACL early in the UK game.

But the defense isn’t using the state of the secondary as an excuse.

“We’re fine,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “Everybody has issues. Everybody has problems. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us on that. To use that (as an excuse) is never going to happen. The guys who are there, available, are going to play. They’re going to play their tails off and execute, and we’re going to find a way to be productive.”

Third-down failure

As poorly as the defense played in the UK game, the Gators did put themselves in a position to come up with some big stops. But they ultimately failed on the money down, allowing the ’Cats to convert 9 of 13 third-down plays.

The biggest problems occurred when the Gators let quarterback Terry Wilson scramble around and make big plays with his arm and his legs.

“You can’t lose contain on the quarterback,” Grantham said. “Two things on third down when you face an athletic quarterback. You can’t let him make plays with his feet, and you can’t let him extend drives with his feet. So that’s No. 1.

“And then, you’ve got to understand third down is a sticks-element down. So if it’s third-and-three it’s going to be this kind of route or this kind of play. Third-and-seven or 11 is going to be this. When it’s longer than that then obviously the ball has to go to the sticks. All that’s an educational process to allow us to be better as we move forward.”


  1. All of this aside, the Gators clock management the last 5-6 minutes of the game was horrible. Down 2 scores, there was absolutely little if any sense of urgency by the offense in getting back to the line after a play and getting the next play off. When they did get lined up, Franks spent way too much time looking to the sideline for the play call. This is on the coaches, but Franks is in charge on the field and needed to be much more assertive with his team and coaches in getting the play called at the line and executed. What happened to the up tempo offense they showed against Charleston when they had a 30 point lead? Much work still to be done.

    • Dan F – I glad you mentioned that as I forgot to bring it up. Franks didn’t seem to have the urgency to get the team lined up and ready to go. If they don’t have the hurry up offense installed as a part of the playbook, then that is one heck of a wasted opportunity. GO GATORS!!!

    • Yes and no. I felt the same way while watching the game.

      But when I rewatched it, I realized they were getting to the line quickly and were snapping the ball with plenty of time on the play clock.

      That said, I believe the coaching staff thought it was better to get it right, then to go fast and get it wrong.

  2. Hey everybody – I haven’t been on since before the KY game, but it was due to a small hive of Mahogany wasps stinging the back of my right hand while trying to remove a window A/C. I didn’t even know they had gotten in between the insulation I put up. My right hand and arm swelled more than I thought an arm could swell…LOL. Anyway the pain of the stings made me forget about the loss to KY. Well I knew that game would let us know how good or bad we are. We all pretty much knew we need more work, but that Coach Mullen has our GATORS headed in the right direction. A good signing next year and the year after that and we will be where we want to be. Injuries hurt as well, but every team has their bumps and bruises. Franks looked better, but he missed some opportunities to score and/or keep the downs going. We will just have to wait and see how these young men handle the bad with the good. The potential is there. We just need the ball to bounce our way more then to the other team. GO GATORS!!!

  3. An educational process Grantham?? My youth football team knows where the first down marker is on a third down play and you don’t let the opposing team past that. I know that is a very simplistic explanation, but to act like your team wasn’t aware how to contain another team on third down depending on the distance needed to go: either you are inept as a coach for not already teaching it to them or you’re an idiot (maybe both).

    • C’mon Joe, let’s be realistic.

      A college defense if much more sophisticated and nuanced than the 5-3 I teach my 10 – 12 year old Pop Warner players.

      It’s a new defensive system.

      All that being stated, it really came down to missed tackles. There were plenty of times the Gators defense had Wilson or Snell trapped in the backfield, only to be beaten to the edge.

      The real issue boils down to to 2 things IMHO, the LBs and Secondary.

      Watch the game again. The LBs, CBs and S were caught out of position too many times. It’a young team still learning to play how the new staff wants them to play.

      • This is exactly right. I said it on another post that most Gator fans knew when Grantham was hired and bringing a 3-4 defense, that we didn’t have the right players to fit that system and were going to probably struggle implementing it. Everyone knew we were lacking depth at LB and in the secondary and that those positions would be the weakness of the defense. Now that everything’s happening exactly how everyone assumed it would in the preseason, people are suddenly shocked and Grantham sucks and needs to be fired. The only thing shocking to me besides the poor tackling was the lack of pressure by the D-line. I think people underestimate how much Jefferson affects that. He may not get a lot of sacks, but he requires a lot of attention, which opens things up for the other players. Reese and Jefferson coming back should help out a lot.

        • No, I think what everybody underestimates is the impact Taven Bryan had on the play of the entire defensive front. He constantly demanded double teams and a lot of times that didn’t even slow him down. The guy was a beast. IMO, nobody left on the defensive front is close to being as talented. It showed against KY.

      • Yes sir Eugene….well said. The down and distance scenario is more than knowing where the flag is. It’s knowing…hey, only certain routes can ran…only so much time can be had in the pocket by the QB before he has to make a play….that sort of understanding.

        I counter that the D Line interior did nothing as well, but I thought the safeties struggled mightily and it was exploited. They were young and will get tested. A running QB can be a killer for he breaks down defenses and is often times unaccounted for.

  4. Franks is a completely different and IMPROVING player under the new regime. I did feel he slipped back into some bad habits as the game progressed, but he did not get much help from The Great Sieve, and truly Mullen’s play calling in that middle span where he just kept going for those sideline passes was not great. All in all, it was a learning experience for Franks and for all the coaches and players. Just keep getting better! Go Gators!

  5. This information certainly tickles my ears, but I’m not going to rely on it any longer to form a basis for my own conclusions. Unless, of course, it comes from Dan Mullen himself, in whom I have full faith and confidence.

  6. Lets face the reality of this tea is they are simply terrible. Forget the QB play, Aaron Rogers or Tom Brady would look like overwhelmed rookies behind our OL. The defense that used to be a strength of the team would not even be mid-pack in the mid-American conference. Really hard to watch this team, and I say that after several crappy years under Mac and Muschamp. You would think I would be numb and realistic enough to watch the gators and not care how bad they look.

  7. 9 of 13 in 3rd down conversion by UK against our Gator D. Not sure I’ve seen a stat like that in many many games perhaps years. The OL & D must show up early against CSU. Coach Mullen will get our program turned around. This year may be some ugly growing pains. Looking forward to Saturday & seeing a very motivated Gator TEAM. Go Gators!

  8. Well, Rog is done with drinking the kool aid. I’m only going to get excited about what I see on the field and evaluate with my own two eyes. I’m not sure a 70-0, dominating win this Saturday will get me too excited. But, come Sept 22 when I settle down into my seats in Neyland, then I think we’ll see how this year is gonna go and what kind of team we’ve got. At this minute, I don’t have a good feeling for the rest of the year, but I believe in this coaching staff and I know they’ll keep working hard to improve this team. Unfortunately, I think many returning players on this team were damaged by the previous regime.

    I’m behind ya 100% Coach Mullen!

    • Well, enjoy yourself in Knoxville, and remember, while them Vols can kill ya, it’s still against the law to eat ya!
      And just be sure not to go native up there, and don’t come back referring to yourself in the first person plural, at least!

      Still waiting on my Rog Jr cheese ball, maybe it got lost in the mail? 😜

  9. At some point we better start having appreciation for Kentucky as a team for what they did…a good opponent can be a good teacher. We will know soon enough if they can beat UGA. It’s possible.
    Right now we should work hard and stop concluding things are hopeless. Sounds like Franks is doing just that.

  10. That 4th qtr drive was kept alive by UK’s penalties! They bailed us out of 3rd and long several times! Sorry, it wasnt the great Franks.
    On another note:
    That pic is a perfect description of why he takes too long to throw! It takes extra time to turn that ball around to throw it! 2 of the fastest passers are and were Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. They both cock that ball straight back and throw it!

  11. Has anyone ever heard the statement” he gives us the best chance to win” about Franks, well mullen and brian johnson said that of him, Mac said it too!, I’m sorry Franks may have a strong arm arm but what else does he have?, did he ever throw a pass to the left side of the field during the third quarter? if he gives Florida the best chance to win they are in bad shape real bad.