Notebook: Franks made correct play call, Mullen says

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks scores a touchdown late in the game Saturday against South Carolina at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent]

When it comes to play calling on fourth-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line, Dan Mullen and his quarterback must think a lot a like.

In that situation Saturday, quarterback Feleipe Franks ended up calling the play after he failed to pick up the play being signalled in from the sideline and called by Mullen.

Franks called his own number — a quarterback sneak over the right side — and succeeded. He dove into the end zone for the winning touchdown in the 35-31 victory over South Carolina.

“I couldn’t find our signal caller,” Franks said. “We had already got in the huddle, so I was like, ‘Let me look at my wrist band and see what plays we have in our goal-line package.’ One with a running back and one passing it and one where you can run it. I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to go with the one where I can run it.’ I was like, ‘Coach Mullen will probably get mad if I don’t get it.’ But I have confidence. So I just called it.

“It was weird. I just couldn’t find them and see him over there. It was in the heat of the moment. So, I just called my own play.”

As it turns out Franks called the same play Mullen was calling for from the sideline, the same play Franks failed to get in the end zone on first and third down.

“He called the right one because that’s what we signaled,” Mullen said. “He’s a little flaky sometimes. We ran the same play the play before. It’s just our quarterback off tackle play. We signaled run the same play and they ran the same play. If he had run it right the two previous times he wouldn’t have had to run it on fourth down.

“I like that he wants the ball in his hands for the game-winning play. I always think that’s huge. You want guys that want the ball in their hands to win the game. That just shows the confidence in themselves and belief in themselves that they can make the play.”

After failing to score on the third-down sneak, Franks was fired up to try again.

“I always want the ball,” he said. “I just wanted to run somebody over. I was just super pissed. I just wanted to lower my head. I have faith in myself and confidence in myself, especially on fourth-and-one. I wanted the ball and I wanted to score.”

Injury update

Starting wide receiver Freddie Swain, who missed the South Carolina game, is on schedule to return for Saturday’s game against Idaho.

“Freddie Swain had an ankle sprain and he’s expect to play this week for us, according to the trainers,” Mullen said.

Two other players who missed the USC game — offensive guard Brett Heggie and safety Brad Stewart — are questionable for Saturday.

Heggie is dealing with an ankle sprain, while Stewart has a strained quad.

“When you have the muscle pulls (like Stewart), he’ll be day-to-day and we’ll see as the week goes on. Talking to our trainers, they feel he could be ready to go by Saturday, but with muscle pulls you don’t know.”



  1. All injured and semi injured players must sit this week. If we don’t beat FSU this year (despite them having great skill players) then when? SOS could afford to neglect the semi-holes, Mullen MUST win. Despite their record, this is a MUST WIN year. Now – don’t put any pressure on our guys.

  2. ive been an 80% franks guy, and lowered to 60 % after Georgia and missouri, but now im back up to 90% or more. i know it was against second stringers of a below average sec program, but a qb that runs over defensive backs, and then completes passes on them, keeps turnovers to a minimum, quickkicks, blocks downfield, catches passes (if he hasnt i bet you he can), calls the right plays when he has to, has a little speed running downfield, and takes a knocking from everyone everywhere on the entire planet and keeps on rocking, you just gotta admit hes good. right before our kicker missed one, i was thinking, man that would be cool if he did a spurrier (as qb) against auburn and waive off the kicker. cool but not rational. i bet you he would have made it though.

  3. I saw Mullen’s comments today. I wonder if a little “flaky sometimes” equals dumb? What about the comment about Franks td near the end of the game where he said if Franks has of ran the play right the first two times he wouldn’t have had to run it a third? I wonder if that equals dumb? Sounds dumb. Just sayin’.

  4. A good sign in the development and progress of a college QB is that QB becoming more in tune with his play calling coach. I sure hope that is the case with Franks and not just another momentary flash of light going on again. Franks played with the kind of leadership, determination, execution (all but for a couple of plays) in the second half of the South Carolina game that gives one hope again about Franks. But I just hope I am not let down again in the FSU game with Franks (as in the Georgia and Missouri games) and Franks continues to excel at even a higher level vs the Noles. But I would sure love to see him be able to consistently hit Jefferson, Grimes, and Cleveland down the field, with more explosive pass plays happening with him at QB. The next step, hopefully, in his progression to becoming a reliable SEC QB for the Gators.

      • A Defense is having trouble stopping the run on the right side of the line. Where do you run the ball LT? Ahhhh right side, good call. Then you throw a left and middle into the mix. Did you even watch the game?

      • There you go again LT, living surface deep and only focusing on 1 specific thing. We know, not everyone can be as innovative as the genius’ Mac and Nuss were with the same 4 plays they ran ad nauseam for 3 years straight, right? Mullen only wishes he could be as innovative as them. Remind me again how many creative plays or even trick plays we saw those guys run in 3 years? Mullen really needs to alter his play calling, cause the 19 passing TDs through 10 games aren’t as impressive as the 10 total those 2 genius’ mustered up all of last season. Forget about the 35 total TDs his play calling has produced so far, we need to go back to the experts that were able to generate 25 total TDs in an entire season. The absurdity of your comments are actually becoming quite comical.

        • Joe. What is better for a troll to do when his or her team (FSU) is having a horrible season than to pose as a UF fan (and get support from some on here) and rip the program while his or her own program is getting ripped apart by every team that team (FSU) plays? And watch what happens if FSU somehow upsets Florida this year.

  5. Nice column. It’s good to just get a sense of the chemistry between Mullen and Franks. it sounds like a funny scene, Franks telling Mullen he couldn’t find the signaler and Mullen saying– that’s what I called anyway!

  6. I originally thought CDM was nuts to call Franks’ number on 4th down, now I find out Franks called it himself, but that CDM was calling for the same play anyway. Wow! Just didn’t make since to me, at the time, to risk it with Feleipe when Perine had run hard all game, hadn’t been stopped for no gain, and is almost certainly stronger and definitely with a lower center of gravity. I thought it was nuts, because I was having to listen to the game on radio. After watching the replay, I saw Franks running hard with fire, determination, and confidence all game long, and it seemed like a reasonable call. It worked, so it was obviously the right call.

  7. Too funny some posters now talking up Franks after the USC win as if he was all of a sudden a Heisman candidate. How in tune with his coach that he called the same play Mullen would have, wow! How good was he that he scored the winning TD after the 3rd try from one yard out, wow!
    Don’t get me wrong, Franks showed a lot of effort and spunk, he had a great day as a runner to compliment the record breaking day the real RBs had. That’s all fine and dandy but is this the winning formula for Gator football? A running QB who can’t complete a forward pass? I take that back, I watched the game again and counted he did complete 7 forward passes, did not count the misses, but they were a few. Completed 7 forward passes for 169 yards, lots of those were YACs by Toney where he caught the pass at the line of scrimmage and did his thing afterwards. Franks had a good game, against a middle of the road team, stop acting like he is Will Grier( not gonna say Tebow, that would be extremely stupid)

    Kid had one good game after two terrible ones, let’s see what he does against FSU and in the bowl game.

    • CO, where do you think Jones comes in? All is good if we continue this roll, but then again it might be good to have him available for FSU and the bowl game and not Idaho. Of course, we haven’t really seen enough of him to know what exactly to expect from him — but at least he should have mastered the playbook by now.

      • There’s the school of thought to play him against Idaho and the bowl game so he can get a lot of snaps. I say not Idaho but FSU to hive him some better competition and the bowl game to get him the Xtra practice time

        • That’s what I’m thinking, plus if he lives up to his press, he may really make a difference in both those games.

          I keep having this weird thought about Franks going down with a season ending injury. Kind of along the lines of, “If anything can go wrong, it will”. What then?

          • Yeah, I was thinking having him in the FSU game and bowl game too, but I can see where Mullen might decide to put him in the Idaho game instead of FSU- a chance to let him get into the game under less pressure than FSU and if we have a good lead in that game he would also likely get more play time to hone his skills vs. an FSU game where it would most likely only be an occasional play. I would imagine the FSU game would be much like when Tebow would come in for an occasional play when Leak was the starting QB.

          • I see your point, Patrick. I’m glad I don’t have to make that call….then again, I was thinking more about (a) presuming that he’s ready and is really as good as we think he is, then (b) having him available for the two biggest games left…..based on (c) the fact that we have been inconsistent at QB all year and Jones might really be needed absent Trask. Especially if we get UCF as our opponent — who will be hungry as hell to take down yet another SEC team. (Hell, if they manage to do that, next they’ll probably claim that they’re the “Uncrowned Super Bowl Champions” as well)

        • The problem with playing Jones against Idaho might be that if something happens to Franks then he is the only QB left and would definitely burn his redshirt. I would not take a win at FSU for granted. I have watch them 4 or 5 times on TV. They have some really good athletes. Both of their QB’s are better passers than Franks. Watching them play I can not figure out way they have lost so many games. I wonder if they are regretting their choice of coaches

          • Agree George, it’s counter-intuitive that they’re in such bad shape. They do have moments where they almost look like a Play Off team, but then break down at the first sign of adversity. That could be a lot of things — but you have to look at the coach, too. Nice guy, but I wonder if he didn’t start believing his own press releases too? He’s not quite a .500 coach — not saying that he can’t be — but history is often the best predictor of the future, isn’t it?

    • I haven’t seen anyone acting like he’s all the sudden a Heisman candidate. He played hard and went out and won the game and earned the praise. No reason to keep beating him down and only focusing on the negatives. Against USC, it was the winning formula. You take what the defense gives you. For this year, with what Mullen inherited, you win games any way you can. It’s pretty safe to say things will be much different once he has his players. The offense should look more like it did in 06-08.

    • I think most guys are commenting on what they see present and past. It remains to be seen, of course, but maybe the funk that permeated both sides of the ball for 7-8 quarters may have been quelled in time for a nice run to the end of the season. He just needs to be the consummate game manager and not turn it over with THIS team…this year. Next year, hopefully someone wins the job so the offense can reach it’s true potential for true balance.

  8. Franks did play with a lot of heart Saturday and he deserves credit and respect for fighting all kinds of adversity to lead his team to victory. I’d love to feel more confident about Franks’ best game and the performance of the offense, but there are three factors that give me pause:
    1) SC’s d-line looked small contrasted with the Gator’s o-line,
    2) Their d-backfield was depleted,
    3) Champ went conservative on offense after he got a big lead.
    That doesn’t take away from the glory of a great come-from-behind victory or the fact that the Gators have had a good season already. Yet, it’s a good thing we face two underdogs before matching up with what should be a strong bowl opponent. I agree with Gator-6 that it would be smart to give Jones a chance to get some significant game experience in at least one of the remaining regular season games, since Trask is out of the equation for the season. After what he accomplished Saturday, Franks deserves to hold on to his job as starter, but right now Tony probably has more game experience receiving snaps than Jones.

    • #1, Oline had been for the most part good on Run O , They manhandled USCs Dline!! And pathetic in Pass O, FF still had no time to throw! so size didn’t matter much.
      #2, It was like that from the time the game started and it was no secret.
      #3, Chump don’t mess with the Offensive side of the ball at all. That’s on his OC. Don’t think they went conservative though. No blown coverage’s, Backers stayed in position and the line played with more energy and most importantly, NO self inflicted mistakes.

      • Wisconsin…Trying to run the clock out and abondoning the hurry-up offense–that was working like a charm–some would call conservative. If you’re a Gator fan I’m surprised that you don’t recognize that particular tendency is practically predictable with Champ regardless of who is his OC. You state that you’re certain that the smaller size of SC’s d-line was a non factor, but the tv announcers pointed out that the SC coaches were worried about the right side of their line’s being able to match up size-wise with the Gators’ big guys. Sure looked like the o-line wore down their d-line in the 4th qrtr. The Gators put up a lot of yards in their comeback. I can’t recall how much pressure they put on Frank’s in the 4th qrtr. I agree with you that pass protection has been a problem for most of the season. Anyway, I hope the size issue was, as you seem so certain, not a factor in why Franks and the offense had their best game.

  9. I, like almost everyone else, had my doubts about Franks before the season started and during the season.
    What I didn’t factor into the equation was the QB Whisperer- Coach Mullen and his impact upon Franks.
    Franks performance has been, on whole, a pleasant surprise. We have a clear shot at 10 wins this year (with the Bowl game.) He has won games in all ways possible and has shown some true grit. Next year , however, will be a different matter. Mullen has already primed the team that this year’s results will not be acceptable next year. Next year we are in SEC East Championship mode at a minimum.
    Franks will need to perfect the long ball accuracy, add touch to short and medium throws, and make faster checks and reads. He will have stiffer competition next year that will motivate him. Based upon his overall performance this year, I can’t rule him out for the job next year. I t will be fun to watch his progression.