Franks to critics: ‘I play to help this team win, the program win’

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks, left, and wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (89) celebrate after taking a knee in the final seconds Saturday, as the Gators defeated Miami 24-20 in the Camping World Kickoff at Camping World Stadium. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

 Just like that, the noise is back, pounding away at Feleipe Franks. But the Florida quarterback isn’t feeling it, certainly isn’t listening to it. Even if he could hear it, he would ignore it.

 “I’m worried about the team here, the coaches here — the team and the coaches and winning games,” the junior said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m not worried about anything outside of that.

 “I’m worried about winning. We won. I don’t know everybody else’s opinion on how I played. I’m worried about my coach’s opinion, and I got a good response. That’s what I’m worried about. And on to the next game.”

 Many of the same critics that Franks won over with his stellar play at the end of last season, apparently have already turned on him again. Social media, and the media, is lit up with criticism of Franks and his three-turnover performance in Saturday’s 24-20 win over Miami.

 “That’s the way it works,” he said.

 As it turns out, on the two biggest turnovers — the fumbled exchange deep in the red zone in the first half and the interception with less than five minutes left in the game — Franks actually was doing the right thing, making the right decision.

 The first-down interception late in the game is what seems to have really irked fans and others the most. On the play, Franks was trying to throw the ball away, out of bounds, out of harm’s way. But he got hit as he was releasing the ball.

 “Ultimately, I was trying to throw the ball away,” he said. “Somebody was right here on me and I was trying to get the ball over him to throw the ball out of bounds. I couldn’t get enough on it.

 “I’ve got pretty good arm strength, I would say. I tried to get it out.There wasn’t even a route right there. So I didn’t throw it to him or didn’t throw it short. I just couldn’t get enough on it to get it out of bounds. I tried to make a smarter decision right there, but couldn’t get enough on it.”

 His first turnover, the fumble inside the UM 10-yard line in the first half, was a run/pass option that should have gone for an easy touchdown. But as Franks tried to pull the ball out of running back Lamical Perine’s hands to throw to a wide-open Trevon Grimes in the end zone, the ball popped out and was recovered by the Hurricanes.

 “Yeah, yeah, I was trying to throw it to Grimes,” Franks said. “I tried to pull it, it just got mixed up. He thought I was giving it. I was trying to pull it. Things we do every day. Just clean it up. The percentage of that happening again in the season is very low. 

 “First game, get all those little mistakes out of the way. Played a very good defense, top four defense. Just get those little things cleaned up. That would have been a touchdown right there. There’s a couple of other plays that should have been touchdowns. Get those little things cleaned up and our offense will get rolling again.”

 Franks’ other turnover came in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter when his pass intended for a wide-open Freddie Swain was high, tipped off Swain’s hands and was intercepted and returned to the UF 25.

 The turnover led to no damage because UM kicker Bubba Baxa ended up missing a 27-yard field goal attempt.

 On Franks’ very next play, he threw a 65-yard strike to wide receiver Josh Hammond. Two plays later, Franks scored the game’s winning touchdown on a three-yard run with 8:18 left in the game.

 “Yeah, obviously threw a pick to Freddie,” he said. “Then our guys just come back. Coach (Dan) Mullen called that play. He wants to keep slinging the rock around. There wasn’t one time in that game where I lost hope that I couldn’t sling the ball around. 

 “You just keep on slinging it around, have a big drive that ultimately helped us win the game. It’s very important to have short-term memory and just respond to pressure.”

 For the most part, Franks responded favorably to the pressure in Saturday night’s game. He’s not going to respond to the criticism that has come in the wake of his performance, especially when it comes to his behavior. 

 He’s being criticized for that, too, — for mugging for the TV cameras and engaging with the crowd during the game.
“I don’t need anybody’s approval,” Franks said. “I’m myself, I’m my own person. At the end of the day, that’s what makes me who I am. People inside this building know who I am, know what kind of person I am. Humble. Try to be the best teammate I can be, always put the team first. I’m a passionate player. I love to win. Winning is my No. 1 goal and we won, we got the job done. We won.

  “I don’t play to please anybody. I play to win. I play to help this team win, the program win. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since I’ve been here. I don’t play to please anybody, anybody outside this building.

 “I come in here every single day, we work our tails off to go out there on Saturdays and win. That’s what I play for, that’s what I do. And we got the win and got the job accomplished as a team.”


Up next

Who: Tennessee-Martin (0-0) vs. No. 8 Florida (1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: ESPNU/SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

44 COMMENTS

    • Not really fair, Gatorboy. I don’t go for the theatrics either, to tell you the truth, but Miami has a reputation for “thuggish” behavior and Felipe is no thug — not by a long shot. Think we should keep our criticisms focused to his football performance good or bad, and feel free to call me out too if I violate that!

  1. “I’m not worried about anything outside of that.”

    I’m ok with the play on the field, just keep working to better yourself. But, the crap off the field just shows where his focus shouldn’t be. He shouldn’t be looking up at fans,etc. Stay focused on the game or put Emory in.

  2. Let the kid play, either he will play his way out of the starting quarterback position or get better. IMO, I agree, tough defense to start out the first game against. Plus Miami was playing with a chip on there shoulder. I watched the game again the next day, UF’s strength/conditioning program won the game at the end. I feel that UM will be good team this year and UF fans will look back and feel good about this win, even ugly as it was. Got to stay positive, I’m thinking Franks will play first half (and do well) against UT-M and Jones will play second half (get to see some crazy football again). Jones needs to play and get game experience, because you never know.

  3. Well maybe it’s just me but where was this kid during the game? “I don’t need approval” “I’m humble” says the kid jawing at fans and cameras… If you’re humble go put the headset on. His words and actions don’t match

  4. “I don’t play to please anyone outside the building”

    And he wonders why he has critics over his behaviour? I m willing to cut a lot of slack. I was 20 once. I’ve never really criticized him. I’ve only hoped he’d grow up and get better. But this is the reason it’s just hard to get behind this young man. When you put on that jersey it doesn’t say “the people inside the building”. It says “The University of Florida”. What Feleipe needs to understand is that he plays for all of us. He plays for every Gator fan who went to this great University. He plays for every fan who invests their time and money and emotion in making him a famous man with a great opportunity. He represents what it means to be a Gator. He went to media days to represent our university. He has the opportunity to be the quarterback of our school’s team because of a lot of people outside the building. So grow up Feleipe. Quite whining when we fans want you to act like the kind of man we can be proud of as our representative. Stop all the ‘cane like bs. You stand on the shoulders of Spurrier and Reeves and Peace and Bell and Matthews and Wuerffel and Tebow. They all represented us and made us all proud to be Gators. They understood that to be a Gator meant to embrace all that it meant to represent the University of Florida.
    And guess what, if you represent and play for all of Gator nation, and act like you care to give your all to lead this team to greatness, then you might find us a little more forgiving of your errors.
    I looked at the replay today, and I think for a first game it certainly wasn’t great, but Frank’s had his moments and he made plays we had to have to win this game. But my patience has about run out with the attitude. Please Feleipe, grow up a little, keep playing hard, and remember that for the most part, we are all pulling for you and want you to be successful.

    Go Gators!

    • You know Galvez, your post made me think — maybe this thing that we hate to see him engage in really is some sort of psychological reaction, or at best compensation, to or for all the heat he took from fans early in his tenure and up and to late last year. Must have really hit him harder than he lets on? A lot of it was indeed stinging and over the top, although a good bit was also warranted too. If that’s the case, it’s immature, yes, but he’s really focusing his acting out behavior on the wrong source (outside at fans) instead of where he should (inside and improving) — aka, using it as a motivator. It probably really is time for Dan Mullen to have a sit down, come to Jesus, man to man talk with him.

      • Exactly 6, all the fans that criticize him for his behavior need to try to think for a second what it must be like to be in his shoes. He was forced to play before he was ready and as a result he got completely bashed not only by opposing fans, but by his own fans as if everything was his fault. Then he proceeds to continue getting bashed early last season and it really didn’t stop after winning 10 games and finishing ranked #7. Most fans would praise their Qb for having that type of season, but a lot of Gator fans still questioned and criticized every little thing they could. Imagine waking up every single day and seeing nothing but negativity no matter where you look. Imagine the constant notifications he gets on his phone. Can anyone really blame a 21 year old kid for lashing out like he does? I’m pretty sure 99.9% of us would do the same thing. It’s human nature. Instead people just sit on their high horses and bash the kid for being immature and needing to keep his head in the game. That’s easy to say from the comfort of your own couch, but not so easy to do when you’re having to deal with that on a daily basis. Maybe if the fans just laid off of him for even a second, then he could keep his head in the game. I’ve never seen a more scrutinized and hated QB no matter what he does. I’m actually more shocked that he doesn’t lash out more.

        • Great points, Joe. We’d like for him to act more like the great Gator QB’s of years past, but those players, even Tebow, didn’t have to face the constant, intense scrutiny and criticism on social media that Feleipe gets. Maybe CDM can coach him in how to ignore those criticisms or maybe just stay off social media and don’t read the paper. The anonymity of social media makes the criticism much more harsh and personally insulting than anything that would be said to his face.

    • Galvez…you hit the nail on the head. Franks has the physical tools to be a great Gator QB. We are all spoiled after Tebow, Wuerffel, Spurrier, Leak, Reaves et al. They were an elite group. The one thing they all had in common was focus. They were in the game mentally all the time. This is my biggest complaint about Franks. If he is really “humble” and “Try to be the best teammate I can be, always put the team first” his sideline antics and getting caught up- in the on the field trash talk doesn’t back this up. We heard all summer that he was showing leadership and pulling the team together. That was not on display Saturday night. I wish Franks well this season. If he will get his mental act together and mature like we thought he had at the end of last year, he could have a special year. The team, the University and the whole Gator nation are expecting a lot from this group. The schedule is daunting. We will need Franks to be that special kind of leader we’ve had in the past. I hope he is mature enough to handle the task. I will be pulling for him and the rest of this team whatever happens. Go Gators!

      • “Focus” is a great word to choose to describe what seems to be missing. Tebow was probably the most fiery, emotional qb we’ve ever had, but his emotion was focused on leading the team and making the team better. He, like all our great quarterbacks, had no time to waste on pointing to himself, and so he made everyone around him better. Let’s hope Feleipe learns this lesson. I’m not too optimistic he will. But I still think the Feleipe we have might be enough with the team around him to make a real run at Georgia. Go Gators!

      • All those players you named had the benefit of not only being loved by their own fans more than hated, but didn’t have to deal with social media like players deal with now. They didn’t wake up to 5 million notifications on their phone with nothing but criticism of every little thing they did. I mean Franks gets so much hate people even criticized his facial hair. There’s not too many people at the college level that can remain focused when dealing with what he deals with on a daily basis.

    • From a 3 generations family of Gators, I could not agree with you more. Franks does not only play for himself, his teammates and coaches. Without “those in the building”, there would be NO game. Accept the criticism. There will always be those who are overly critical. I am satisfied with the outcome of a W over Miami.
      It’s a game!

    • Galvez, you nailed it. I waited to comment until after the first full week-end of college football (and also until I got back on for free – I ain’t paying to look here – ever! But that’s another matter…) I sadly noted that there were at least a dozen or more college QB’s out there that I would gladly trade FF for even after his best of performances. At least 6 of them were freshman! And many were in the SEC. If the UM game was CDM’s idea of leadership and maturity, then I am really disappointed. FF is as good as he is ever going to get, and it’s nowhere near as good as Tagovailoa, Fromm, Mond, or Burrow, not counting the two that the SEC lost in Fields and Hurts, and they were backups! He continues to lack vision, football IQ, and the abilities to read defenses or extend plays successfully. He may be a “willing runner”, but for his size and speed he has below average elusiveness and is still contact shy. I honestly don’t want to pick on the kid, but it is hard to believe that Trask or Jones would not do a better job. I am not sure why CDM seems to have such confidence in him despite his obvious shortcomings. I trust that the coach knows best, but I can’t for the life of me understand what he sees (or doesn’t) that the rest of us don’t (or do).
      Probably won’t post again until October. Did I mention that I am NOT paying for access to news about Gator sports? I wonder if the Sun has paid to use the name “Gators” in their banner? It sure doesn’t belong to them. If they are going to charge us to read their drivel, UF should collect for the use of “Gators” in their marketing, or make them revert to Sun Sports, in which case most folks would say “Who?”
      See ya next month!

  5. There will always be critics of the starting quarterback. That is a given. In this case, I am sure that a lot of the frustration is at the offense for moving the ball well then giving it up. The penalties on defense add to the frustration. Fans expect that their team will execute plays with crispness and focus. Penalties, turn overs, overthrowing, bad exchanges, etc. add to the frustration. The key is having a leader at quarterback. It does not always appear that the leadership is there. We are used to Tebow, Wuerffel, Mathews, Leak, etc. guys that were focused, passionate, but not about the theatrics. Those are big shoes to follow but it can be done. The antics in front of the camera is what gets most people going. Congratulate your teammates on the play then get ready for the next one. The season is long. Go Gators!

  6. If Franks was as humble as he claims he is, he wouldn’t have tried to defend himself. All he would have said is that he is sorry that he didn’t play better and that he hopes to do better in the future. He claims that he was hit as he threw the interception, but replay showed that he was hit after he released the ball. So, all he is trying to is deflect criticism. Tebow he is not (with respect to h umility) and for all kinds of other reasons.

    • Exactly- the replay shows he was hit after the throw and he was looking to the exact point to where he threw it. So again, he is deflecting and not taking responsibility for it (even if it was a called play). I would be really happy if what he said is true- that he isn’t worried about what others think and just wants to play well, but if that was the case we wouldn’t be seeing the sideline antics as well as interviews where he whines about his treatment by the fans (with no apparent acceptance that there is some correlation between his performance and fan reaction). The thing is- all the commentators say the same thing about him. It isn’t just the fans. We all want you to be great, Franks. Believe me, we all want you to be great.

  7. Where is his love – passion for his school – for being a Gator! That’s what’s missing among other things in my opinion! He doesn’t have to be anyone else but how about looking at Wuerfful, Tebow, and many others before him as roles models or inspiration, etc and even current Gators like Hammond, etc. He just seems to be missing something. A leader he still has issues with! He’s lucky he has Dan Mullen as his coach because without him who know where he’d be.

    • Without Dan Mullen he’d likely be on the bench, or converted to tight end like was done with Toney at slot. Sorry folks for my bluntness, but I think Mullen fell into the trap of his own past successes (QB wisperer), and seems unwilling to recognize it’s time to move on to the next man up. Would love to see it turn around for Franks, but how many seasons do we continue to hold ourselves back? What is so wrong with rotating in different QBs? Saban does, it Spurrier, etc.

      • Or else, Alum, CDM is seeing stuff that isn’t obvious to the rest of us. That’s why I was asking Cody if he had been at any fall practices this year, since he might have gotten a glimpse of it too — whatever it may be. But I sure do take your point, bud — get Jones ready to play and Trask too!

        • Or else CDM hasn’t seen this same story as long as we have before he arrived. But I get your point. His arm strength and athleticism would be very alluring to any new coach, especially one known as a QB maker.

          • Spot on, bud. We did wander thru the desert while CDM was making MSU something in the West besides a door mat. Correct me if I’m wrong — I forget and I’m too lazy right now to look it up — Jones is “his” recruit, right?

  8. There isn’t nothing wrong with his love for his school, team or coaches. I could be mistaken but he is strictly speaking of his critics. IMO I would tell his critics to go do some landscaping and plant tulips! For 1 even Tim Tebow struggled in his first games of each season, as did Wuerfful. Guys, IT’S THE 1ST GAME OF THE SEASON!!! Against the #4 defense in the country and the #1 pass defense in the country, well last season!!
    Imo, Miami’s defense was pretty freaking good and NOBODY has even given them the credit they deserve. Any critics about the elite receivers who were stuffed all night? except on 1 play? Oh, and what about this deep backfield with awesome backs who barely achieved 50 yards rushing? I’m sorry, I hear nothing about the rest of the TEAM only 1 guy.
    I could care less if Franks celebrates, Like the rest of the team does and nobody complains, as long as he comes out focused on the next series. They are kids and that is what kids do!! Hell, even Aaron Rodgers celebrates when he scores and high fives the fans and smack talks the opponents fans!!
    IMO everyone wants someone to blame for the pathetic play of the offense. I mean the Defense played outstanding but the offense? Well, we need someone to point a finger at because for the first game of the season, ALWAYS the game where mistakes come out, against a really good team, not your average cupcake, our offense did horrible!
    Mistakes are going to happen, we are going to not like them but they are going to be made regardless of what we think or feel. I wasn’t very happy with how the offense performed!! Notably, the running backs who couldn’t run to help their QB open the passing game! Or maybe it were the receivers who couldn’t find any open spots on the field and were covered most the night. The offensive line was pretty solid considering everyone was worried about them being ready to play.
    I apologize if my opinion offends anyone but Franks is who he is and we best get used to that!! He isn’t going to change because we think he should. I agree with Mike Bianchi, Give the kid a freakin break!!!

    https://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/mike-bianchi-commentary/os-sp-gators-feleipe-franks-dan-mullen-hurricanes-20190827-nwo7peefhfbsjopakrqcd53tma-story.html

    • You make valid points, Wisky, and you shouldn’t feel the need to apologize, even if someone was offended. I’ll defend my man Perine, though, since he averaged 4.2 per carry with some very strong runs on just 10 carries. I think a good back needs more carries to get into the flow of the game, however, with only 54 plays ran, it’s hard to give one guy more carries. I agree that the OL did a “fair” job considering the talent they faced on the UM defense. My only gripe is that they gave up on blocks too soon in the running game. Over the last few seasons, I’ve watched the better OL’s in the SEC push the pile or drag the RB for extra yards on a consistent basis. Our OL did not do that, but they didn’t do it very well at the beginning of last season either, but Coach Hevesy got them much more engaged, and they got much better as the season progressed. I think the OL, Franks, and the entire offense will improve quickly. You make a great point about playing a quality opponent in the opener that also just happened to come with one less week of practice than the normal opening day game.

    • “I mean the Defense played outstanding…”

      Huh? I will give you the d-line pulled the game out at the end, but if the defense as a whole had cared about tackling throughout the game, the game would not have been close enough to lose at the end.

      • You didn’t mention pass defense being on and off, but I really didn’t expect all that arm tackling out of a Grantham coached unit. I bet he didn’t either! Reckon how we probably aren’t going to see that again?

        But as erratic as they might have been at times, Gawd Almighty….those blitz packages and sacks were indeed something to behold.

  9. I criticized FF pretty harshly for his comments to the camera, but I believe the lack of tackling is more critical to the team than what FF needs to do to keep himself pumped. I don’t agree with his comment to the camera after the TD throw, but in retrospect, FF has taken a lot of heat and weathered it, and he loves the UF and being a Gator, and he’s got to have the freedom to vent.

    As many in the media have lamented, UF fans are the only ones they know of that can be complaining when the team wins. I include myself in that group. I just hold people up the standard with which I played; I didn’t talk, I took it out on the opposing team member in front of me.

  10. I have a Nole friend with whom I go back to junior high school. His brother-in-law is a UF alumnus; he refers to Feleipe as “Football Frankenstein.”

    I, like everyone else, WANT Feleipe to be wildly successful, because if he is it most probably means the TEAM will be wildly successful as well. I don’t recall seeing many (if any) of recent top flight college QBs spending their time between series jawing at the fans and/or the camera. They are generally ether on the phone with the coaches or talking up their teammates for the next possession.

    He is in his fourth season in the program, his third season as the starter. One would hope that by now he would act like he’s been here before, be it after a touchdown, or after an interception. A cool, steady hand is what his teammates need.

    • It’s certainly disappointing to see that, Al. I think it’s fair to say that we DO really want to see him play up to his potential — he can do it, and if he does that, maybe we wouldn’t gripe so much about his immature sideline behavior. I can’t think of anybody I know who minds “cocky”, as long as you can back it up.

        • And I’ll tell you another thing on the matter, since nobody but a few seem interested in posting anymore — a lot of good football minds on here, past and present, have alluded to the same thing regarding his immature behavior. Cody Alan brought it up in his post last night too…..that should really tell us something. I’ve been trying to focus more on his performance, reasons for it, and his potential, but it’s hard to ignore as a major distraction and could wind up someplace none us want to see. Really is time for CDM to nip it in the bud, as ol’ Barney Fife would have said.

          • 6, it seems that every time the Sun changes the rules for posting, the comments dwindle in number by a significant amount. When I first started posting, all you had to do was provide your email address. Then came the change to require a Facebook account or other social media account to log-in. Stubborn as I am in believing that FB is one of the three “Great Satans” of our time (Google, and Twitter being the other two), I refused to get a FB account and could only read comments for about two years. Then, they changed it to a membership site, so I could again post as a guest without joining. Then, early last year(?), they required everyone to register as a member, and now, finally, they’ve turned it into a pay-site. A drug dealer couldn’t have set me up any better! I’m hooked, but obviously a number of the old posters have had the self control to “Just Say No!”.

          • And I wish they would say, “Oh, what the hell…”. Like Rog, for instance. Like 65, although he might be on the verge. Like STL, who was at least on the “Recent Topics” side this morning, doing some of what he does best. I’m waiting on Gelco, SHP is still on vacation, and Jaws is still AWOL but then again, school just started again and he might be up to his ass in alligators there (if you’ll forgive the pun). GatorEd told me point blank, “NO”…..but some of the old guys are still here and I think some more may be migrating soon. I guess patience is called for?