Emotional Franks’ play silences some of his detractors

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks shushes the boo-birds in the crowd after scoring a touchdown Saturday against South Carolina at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Lauren Bacho/Staff photographer]

This is why you go to the games.

This is why you stay when it looks bad.

This is why you are a fan.

Games like this one.

Where a young man is turned into a villain and responds by becoming a hero.

Where a coach’s calls get booed and later on he is doing a victory lap.

On a Saturday that started off gloomy, you saw all the emotions you could want in this game we call football — happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, relief.

And the same guy who put his pointer finger to his lips twice after a touchdown run and told the fans who had booed him to shut the bleep up was high-fiving them after the game.

“It’s probably something I shouldn’t have done,” Feleipe Franks said after it was over. “I’m a super emotional player. A lot of people are going to like me and a lot of people aren’t going to like me.”

Not many of them were in his corner coming off back-to-back losses. They wanted anybody but Franks behind center. And when he started this game with a few bad throws and a fumble, they’d have been happy if Dan Mullen had sent Kyle Trask out there with wheels on his protective boot.

So a lot of them booed. And that’s why he responded the way he did.

He was wrong to do it. Mullen agreed.

“He’s an emotional kid,” Mullen said. “I told him he was going to get booed. I tell him not to worry about anything that won’t win us the game.

“What is he 19, 20? I was more concerned with him staying off social media.”

That was another tough moment in a tough week for Franks. Former Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio Tweeted early in the week that Mullen would lose the fanbase if he started Franks. Franks couldn’t let it go, responding with a sarcastic “thumbs up” emoji.

“It’s the world we live in,” Mullen said.

Part of the problem for Franks during his short career is that he is emotional. Quarterbacks are supposed to be cool, calm and collected. Franks wears his emotions like a rugged badge of honor, but has trouble letting go of bad plays.

Or bad experiences.

Fortunately for Florida, Franks channeled his emotions into a physical running style on this day. He picked up first downs with straight runs and scored the winning touchdown on a fourth-and-goal.

He even turned a botched trick play into a positive one.

“Whatever I’m asked to do,” he said, “I’m going to do. This team deserves it.”

That’s the funny thing. The angrier Franks ran the louder the crowd got after a quiet start. It was another beginning to the game that had no juice because of all the empty seats on the east side. You wondered if Florida should junk the Jumpman logo and instead use a silhouette of a guy holding a pair of tickets in the air.

And when South Carolina jumped out to a 14-0 lead and the Gator defense again looked like it wasn’t playing with effort, it felt a lot like last week.

Except this time, the fans hung in there. Even when the Gamecocks got up 31-14, they had energy.

And then some strange things started to happen, including a deflected pass for a first down and a defense that finally started playing.

It got loud again.

And eventually people were standing on their heads cheering for the guy many of them were booing.

“That’s how it works,” Franks said.

Not always.

But it did this time.

Many of them were cheering for a player who had cursed them, a player they had cursed. Mostly, they were cheering for a guy who took shot after shot and kept fighting for more yardage.

On Monday morning, they didn’t want him.

On Wednesday night, they were stuck with him.

On Saturday afternoon, they loved him.

That’s why you go.

That’s why you stick around.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.


  1. Franks punishing the tacklers with his 240 lbs reminded me of what Tebow used to do. Franks not only looked liked a willing runner today, he was craving it. I say keep letting him bulldoze the pile of defenders on short yardage situations like Mullen did with Tebow. He wasn’t putting away any dished today, he was smashing them.

  2. no question he has been a recipient of bad luck, too much blame, and just a lightning rod. maybe this becomes the fuel for an incredible career later on. maybe jones actually gives him relief that franks can play with abandon, not in fear of injury, and start running like tebow, throwing like chris leak, and having the game smarts of kerwin bell. i hope so.
    i loved his quick-kick and his downfield blocking. i thought the shush gesture was fine and may prove to be the turnaround, i hope so. but it was south carolina so he needs to do it again next year against better competition.

    • Let it go, man! I thought at the time, and still do, that CDM was insane to give the ball to Franks on 3 out of 4 plays from the 3 yard line with the game hanging in the balance, but Franks came through. Maybe CDM was looking at instilling confidence in his QB moving forward. I think it was a risk, but it paid off. Just be happy for the kid, and give him credit for great determination and effort. Go Gators!

  3. Great column, Pat.

    I’m truly curious why we’re having so much trouble covering tight ends. It certainly can’t be physical mismatches because whoever is supposed to be covering them is nowhere near them. It appears to be pre-snap communication breakdowns, but you would think that after 10 games, that sort of thing would be cleared up.

    Feleipe needs to learn that nobody “doesn’t like him.” At least nobody with a brain. Sports is the ultimate meritocracy, and it can be rough. Especially if you’re a quarterback. To make matters worse, the loudest and most negative commenters on social media usually know the least about football.

    As for Luke Del Rio’s tweet, what the heck was he thinking?

    First, he was wrong. Dan Mullen has tons of fan equity and continuing to play Feleipe isn’t going to cost him the fan base. Second, Feleipe didn’t play defense or offensive line against Missouri last week. Third, if Kyle Trask had been the better option at quarterback through the first nine games, he would have started those games. The grass may always be greener on the other side of the hill, but the quarterback whisperer head coach knows best.

    Generally speaking, Feleipe played about the same today as he has over the last four to five games. Why was today different? He finally got some luck with a potential fumble and interception that bounced Florida’s way, and 367 yard rushing. He did, however, seem to run more aggressively.

    Feleipe has awesome physical talent. But he is still young and very raw.

    Try supporting the kid.

    • Well said! He really is kind of pathetic in his current role, whatever that is. I suppose it is the modern day social media loser goal of getting attention at all costs. Really, Luke- be a real man and get a job.

  4. Yea..this reeks of a McElwain player. You would never see that with Tebow, Wuerffel, Grossman, Matthews, or Bell. As I said. Get rid of the Shark’s recruiting mistakes, and this team will be unstoppable. If Franks gets PO’d by the boos, here is my suggestion. Play better. Or get out of the way. I get sick of the apologists who say, “oh, these are just kids…you can’t be critical of them.” This is a $100 million per year program, ladies and gentlemen. If the people we have in place cannot do the job, find the people who will.

    • Ok CJ. How do recruits view the booing? Is it a positive? I’m hoping Trey Sanders was hyped by the display of rushing, not the booing of players. Save your booing for the millionaires playing for the Buccaneers, Jaguars and Dolphins.

      • Mexi:

        You know what recruits view? Winning and losing. Touchdown passes. Huge runs. Big hits. Interceptions. Fumbles. Losses of yardage. Recruits want to play for a winner (see why Alabama has very few recruits on their roster below 4-star) and a chance to play on Sunday. Boos are not the problem. They are a symptom of the problem. I have no issue with a fan base that has one of the best-funded programs in America and a talent-rich pool to draw from, booing when the mistakes become commonplace. We have the right coach finally. He just needs the time to get the right talent. This isn’t youth sports at the YMCA, where everyone gets a trophy for participating. Big time college football actually means something. It is the minor league of the NFL-particularly in the SEC. If you can’t perform here, go to a group of 5 school. Or an FCS school. Where you will get cheered for just taking the field. Of course, I wonder what UF would look like if they had a group of 5 QB like Mackenzie Milton running the offense. Franks has a ton of heart, and he definitely has talent. That isn’t always enough in this league to start. Just ask Jalen Hurts or Jacob Eason.

        • cj – Its just a football game dude. Franks is playing his best…we are 7-3. We are all but guaranteed at least 8 wins this year, with a very good possibility of 10. Do you prefer last year’s 4 wins??? Geez dude…enjoy the season and quit booing our QB. AND…recruits pay very close attention to a hostile fan base. Franks is a Gator…treat him with respect.

          • Yes, Franks is playing his best. And so did Treon Harris, Luke Del Rio, Austin Appleby…You are making my point. You are right I don’t prefer 4 wins. And as soon as DM has entirely DM recruits (and not our McElwain 2 and 3 stars) our 4 wins will come almost every year by the end of September. And for the record, I didn’t boo Franks. But, I’m not going to shame people who pay $1,500-plus a year for season tickets for booing, or our students for staying away, because obviously for may of them, they haven’t found this the most exciting thing to do on a Saturday afternoon over the last decade. I don’t blame them. You can’t have it both ways. We spent 70 years as an underachieving program. When SOS and UM demonstrated what this university was capable of, which everyone knew for generations, to accept a slightly better than average player going off on the fans that pay the booster fees that make this a top-ranked program shows maybe that player isn’t the type of person this program needs.

  5. Luke Del Rio is an azz!! Imo he wasnt all that great either. There is a reason he transferred from 2 other schools!! He isnt a starting QB or he would have stayed at Bama or Oregon. UF was in need of a QB even if he was a 2nd or 3rd string QB. I agree he needs to stay off Twitter, dont see him playing anywhere. Easy to be a critic when your not in someone’s shoes. Just saying! Gooooooo Gators!!!!!

  6. Franks played better than in the last two games, good deal, but it didn’t hurt that the O-line was up against a smaller D-line and SC’s def backfield was depleted. That definitely helped the running game because there was plenty of daylight as the game wore on. Getting the ball to a fired-up Tony was key, and Scarlet caught fire too. I still believe Mullen will have to be a miracle worker to develop Franks into a polished and consistent qb, but more power to him and to Franks. I hope we see it happen. Since time in the system is a big deal to Mullen, it’ll be better in the long run for Franks to pan out.

  7. Happy for Franks to the win…great effort throughout the game. Hope the sour fans cut the boos…classless and achieves absolutely nothing. BIG PICTURE…this team can go 10-3 and probably finish the season ranked in this Top 10 if they do. Hats off to Mullen, the coaches, and the players!!! Great turnaround…thank you!!!! Go Gators!!!

  8. One more thing…Luke Del Rio needs to keep his mouth shut! That guy is a whiny little punk plain and simple…not even a Gator in my book. All he did was run his mouth and cry about his injuries keeping him from being 100 percent. So he played hurt…and selfish. Thought of himself and his playing time. Keep your idiot comments to yourself…or to MacYet…

  9. Wow..listening to some of you, you sound like the parents of kids who finished 8th during the YMCA soccer season and defend your child’s participation trophy. Based on the logic I am reading, Doug Dickey should have never been fired 40 years ago. Neither should Ron Zook, Jim McElwain, Will Muschamp, Mark Richt (at UGA),…etc. Tell you what. I will take the bet that that Feliepe Franks does is not selected in the NFL draft. You get the rest of the selections. Anyone like to put their money where their mouth is?

      • PV my point is not about whether or not you support Franks, I think it’s absolutely fine to support him. But calling people to task for being critical of him isn’t fair either. That’s the only point I am trying to make. As far as you go, jcolt..you can pound sand. I didn’t get into name calling, I was just commenting on performance and a player’s response. If you’re going down that path, it’s probably because you were one of those kids at the Y that never got anything other than a participation trophy. I can assure you I have more history with this university and its athletic program than you could dream of..

        • No cj…you are essentially belittling a player and justifying this because some fans pay $1500 for tickets. I buy season tickets…and treat the program with respect. That includes our players. Now if you want to me to pound sand little man for calling you a whiny little 8 year, grow some freaking thick skin. You can’t even handle me rubbing you, and you criticize Franks? Lol. You are a chump…

  10. I just can’t get behind booing your own school / team because they aren’t playing well. I mean, if they have given up and just aren’t trying then ok but if they are playing their tails off and simply aren’t as good as the other team then booing is bush league IMO. I don’t blame Franks for what he did but I also think the second shush was over doing it. He wasn’t getting booed anymore and fans were actually cheering for him.

    Although I don’t blame him, the problem I have is it makes me question his mental toughness and even more so his emotional toughness. Most of the great QBs I’ve watched don’t let things like that get to them. If he needs that negative outside influence to run like he did then what happens when he doesn’t have it? I hope it’s not a reflection of his toughness, or lack there of.

    • His Dad is a retired Army 1SG — I think the mental toughness is there in spades, but not yet the emotional tone to go along with frustration. I’ve seen the same thing you mention before, Dallas. He’ll grow into those big shoes in time.

  11. I really want Franks to be the next great QB at Florida but no matter how well he played yesterday he’s not a quarterback that can put the team on his shoulders and win it. I don’t even see him in Gainesville next year.

  12. I think the light bulb may have gone for Franks against SC. Nobody expects him to be perfect, but they do expect him to be perfectly relentless. After watching Tebow’s blood, sweat, and tears for 4 years, and seeing Danny take the cheating beatings from FSU, it was apparent that Franks may have been a willing runner, but he was not a winning runner. Big difference. Once he started punishing the other guys for a change, the whole momentum and feeling of the game changed. I wonder how many people thought, as I did, “NOW he is running like Tebow – like he wants it badly and refuses to lose”? This is what Mullen’s offense requires to work at its best. Scarlett, Perine, and Toney, came alive and began to deliver a few hits of their own. As to Frank’s sushing, it was unfortunate and ill-timed, as he shushed them when he was finally earning their wild cheers. Dumb. Next time he fumbles or throws an interception, he will wish he had just humbly received their approbation and moved on. Gators want to love their QBs, and while his effort against SC made that possible. his antics unfortunately soured an otherwise sweet situation. I hope we watches more Tebow film, and less of himself. Then he can learn how motivating his efforts were, and at the same time learn how to gracefully and enthusiastically handle success.

    • I saw the same thing vis-a-vis Tebow, Trooper……….and was very proud of him for finally using that big body of his as a weapon. For a while there, I really did think I was watching Tim! I also noticed one more thing that I’m not sure of, but I’ll mention it anyway and you can tell me if I’m full of “shyt” (as our pal Smith would say).

      I noticed that when Franks was throwing more accurate passes, with considerably better “touch”, he wasn’t “winding up” so to speak, but instead both hands were on the football for a much longer time through delivery. Anything to that? I never played QB — pretty much confined to Left Out during my playing career — but I’ve noticed the same thing in other (good) passers too. Just a thought.

  13. I am amazed at how little is being said of Franks’ miracle completion that turned and saved the game. If it doesn’t happen the Gators lose. Third and long losing 31-14, the snap goes over Franks head, he gets it on the first bounce, avoids a big rush, throws it into a mob, two tips and a completion for the first down. Game saved. Gators don’t win without it.

  14. I think Gary Danielson summed it up pretty well during the UGA fan. Franks just didn’t produce as a QB, particularly as expected by a major program. I don’t like booing and don’t do it myself, but there isn’t a major program fanbase that wouldn’t be booing him at this point. It is just a fact of life in the big leagues. I like Franks. I have always thought he had heart, and he definitely showed it during this game. But the fact remains that his passing, which is primarily what we need from a QB, is horrible- horribly inconsistent. One great passing play doesn’t make up for 10 bad ones. Most of us at this point have come to the conclusion that he just doesn’t have “it”. That doesn’t mean that most of us don’t like him. We know he is probably doing the best he can, and he has gotten us through the season without having to burn Jones’ redshirt season. Will Jones be the savior? None of us have any idea. We can only hope. Perhaps it is still going to be up to a future Gator QB not yet on the team. However, I have seen enough to have a pretty good hunch that Franks is not going to the “the guy” that takes us to the next level. Nevertheless, I’m glad he is a Gator and I hope he will learn not to take things too personally in the future. Enjoy the high moments and don’t let the low moments get you too down. Thanks for doing the best you can, Franks.

  15. Pattrick couldn’t agree with you more.
    One great pass does not make up for 10 bad ones therefore Franks is not a good QB. In fact he sucks as a passer. Guess I should have prefaced the comment by saying he is trying hard, doing the best he can, no one hates the kid (just his passing ability), etc, but I think most fans feel this way.
    Hope to see a lot of Jones in 2 of the next 3 games.

    • Well, with Trask not available now and Jones sure to get some quality time against FSU now that he’s possibly available for the bowl game too — and if Franks can keep the bubble — and if our OL and running backs keep driving this hard ALL the time instead of some of the time — and not to even mention TONEY being on fire — oh hell, I forgot what I was going to say!

      I think it was I hope so too and I think the answer is yes! 😊

  16. Fellas!!!! Franks is the Gators starting QB…period. Everything is relative, and he is heads and shoulders better than last year. He may not be where all you armchair coaches want him to be, but he has lead his team to a 7-3 record, a Top 15 ranking, has a quality win over a Top 5 team, and he’s just a RS Sophmore. He plays is a$$ off. My thanks to Franks and company for the win. ANY of you boo-jackals would have taken where we are now at the beginning of the season…compared to the dumpster fire of a program last year. Enjoy the ride and quit complaining like a bunch of entitled of Nancy Boys…

  17. Remember SOS going off about people booing kids? Well, he was right (as usual).

    With that said, FF played the fool on Saturday with the shushing of his own fans. Some say he’s emotional but I saw immaturity on Saturday.

  18. So, let me get this straight: fans who spend their hard-earned money attending games have no right to boo when the product on the field is inferior? Would you rather they voted with their wallets and didn’t buy tickets to begin with?

    • BD. You rock. YOU GET WHAT I HAVE BEEN SAYING. People like J-Lo, (or “Jenny from the block”, otherwise known as jcolt), want to shame anyone who is critical of Franks or any team member who makes repeated critical mistiakes at a program like ours. These “YMCA parents” as I call them fail to remember that out stadium was built to a 90,000 seat capacity based on booster contributions from the success of the 1990’s and the resurgence in the mid 2000’s. While he me like to call me an 8-year old for my supporting people’s booing or students staying away, I keep telling anyone who will listen that SEC football is not like Pop Warner. You lose, no money. You insult the fans and you don’t win, the money dries up. Feliepe Franks is not a bad kid. He even has some interesting skills as a QB. But he darn sure doesn’t have the skills or track record to be shushing these fans. He needs to shut up and do his job, or sit down. That is exactly what Steve Spurrier would have told him. As far as Jenny goes, she’s worthless. She can call me out all she wants, but the only reason she does it is because she knows what it feels like to be an underachiever.