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.”
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