The Sunday Blog, Week 10: Franks on the run

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks with the pass in the first half Saturday against Missouri at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent]

The Sunday Blog comes at you on a drizzly morning as we’re still trying to understand everything that happened Saturday:

  1. I am not here to defend Feleipe Franks and I still believe that the coaches know better than the media or the fans as to who should play. Dan Mullen made that very clear Saturday night. But it was true that almost every time the Gators tried to take a shot downfield the pocket collapsed and Franks had to deal with it. According to the stats, Franks was hurried seven times in the game. But if I was going to make a move at quarterback, it would be because Mullen can’t run the offense he wants to run with a quarterback who can’t run the ball. They keep talk about him being a willing runner. I’m a willing emptier of the dishwasher but it doesn’t mean I like it or am any good at it.
  2. Remember in the preseason when the Florida players talked about how they were going to be back on defense and wouldn’t have another year when they finished 31st in the nation in total defense? Well, they are 34th right now with a team coming in that just scored 48 points in an SEC game. If there was a way to bottle up the intensity this defense displayed against Mississippi State and LSU and slip it into the Gatorade, well, you wouldn’t see what you saw Saturday. No juice in the crowd, no juice on the field. But that’s just an excuse.
  3. Filling out my AP ballot has been more difficult than ever this season, but usually the hardest part is the last five. This week, it was the middle 10. I’m not proud of ranking Syracuse and Miss. State and Auburn and Texas as high as I did but you just run out of really good teams. On the other hand, the Alabama-LSU game sure is going to make it easy to do my Heisman Trophy vote. There are more viable candidates than usual out there, but there’s only one Tua Tagovailoa.
  4. This past weekend was such a big deal and it kind of feels like college football season is over until the playoffs, which stinks. But you never know what’s going to happen and with a noon game this week, I’ll get to watch a lot of it. Here’s your four-pack:

* Ohio State at Michigan State, Noon, Fox.

* Miss. State at Alabama, 3:30 p.m., CBS.

* Auburn at Georgia, 6 p.m., ESPN.

* Clemson at Boston College, 8 p.m., ABC.



  1. 1) As I said last night and I’ll continue to say it, Derek Dooley out coached Todd Grantham. But enough about the defense last night. Well, one more thing: an uninspired offensive performance, coupled with being gashed on defense is enough to destroy morale. One of the ways to stop another team’s offense, is to control the ball and keep them off the field. That gives your defense a rest, and helps them control how they play against an opposing offense.
    2) But the heart of the issue: Feleipe Franks is bad. His true colors have come shining through, and the fact that there is a question about the starter next week shows you about the lack of qb talent at Florida. Trask may or may not be the answer, and I’ve always been the one to tell people do not say, “it can’t get worse.” But, what do you have to lose now? The difference now between 9-3 and 7-5 is Nashville and Shreveport. From a Florida standpoint, they’re the same (or they used to be). Trask or Jones may not be an improvement, but at least give them a chance. Franks has had his. He’s missed wide open receivers and has not helped the program improve. On another note: a quarterback that will excel in Dan Mullen’s offense is one that will be a runner first, passer second. Franks is not a runner. Trask, who knows. Jones, well, he’s probably the best bet moving forward. And yes, the coaches should know better than the fans and the media who is better, but we’re judging by the product put on the field, not the product that practices….and that’s what matters.
    3) Dear special teams: Tommy Townsend, you’re a punter, not a free safety. If you want to switch positions, that’s fine. I’ll show you all the tape from Tony “Late Hit” Lilly and the rest of Florida’s great free safeties. But, grow a brain. Stay out of the nonsense. We need you to punt, not be a head hunter.
    Let’s see how the rest of the season pans out. Without change or without a spark, this could get ugly.

  2. What are we saying? Willing has to be more than just volunteering. It’s paying the price. Soreness. Injury. Absorbing the other teams energy. A form of abuse from your competitor (best t shirt ever, when FSU beat wuerrfel on some poor referee work, the cartoon of Danny taking a late hit with the caption ‘anybody heard a whistle?’).

    These are the traits of wuerrfel. Tebow. Newton before he left. Gaffney in the old days.

    It’s asking a lot of anyone.

    I know there were a lot of newspapers sold over concussions and I look forward to better handling of that aspect of the game. I know that since those FSU cheap shots they call them more closely. It’s part of life and no one is protected like that most places. I hate to say get tougher but let’s just say find a way. Mr Tua in Alabama has.

  3. Jones obviously isn’t ready for full time playing. Mullen commented after the bashing yesterday that they didn’t have a package ready for him for MO. Pretty easy to interpret that he’s not ready to run a college offense. I think we will see Trask this week with a package for Jones. It should be Trask’s job for the taking. We shall soon see if he can do better than Franks.

  4. Mullen’s comments suggest to me that there is a good chance we will see Franks start again, but I would not be disappointed if I am wrong. As for the 48 points the USCe scored against Ole Miss, they were playing against a team that is a great candidate for the worst defense in the SEC. Nonetheless, if the Gators cannot play better than they did against Missouri, they will lose again. We know that they are capable of playing better than that, but we don’t know whether they will live up to that potential.

  5. Franks has improved in a couple of areas even though some will not give him credit. He does not lock on to one receiver the way he did last year and he does not take as many sacks. He will through the ball away when his receivers are covered, sometimes too soon though. I believe his real downfall is his delivery. He throws the hard line drive every pass. That is needed on those quick screens and the slants, but over the middle and the deep ball it does not work. There was a tight end open in the end zone against Mizzou and he threw one of those darts. If he had put a little air under it the kid probably would have been able to catch the ball. We have receivers that are able to run under the deep ball but not the line drives that Franks throws. I hope we see Jones this week. Trying to run the read pass option when the QB only runs the ball once a game is not going to work. The QB has to be able to run in that situation enough to keep the defense honest and this will keep the LBs from keying on the backs all time. Go gators

    • George 73

      I still see Franks licking in on receivers regularly. That’s exactly what happened on that horrible pick against Georgia. But I will say he doesn’t do it as often. But while his mechanics are bad, his worst problem is still decision making. Unless you are at the game where you see the whole field, you don’t realize how many receivers come open and he never throws them the ball. It’s not just that he misses open receivers, it’s that he doesn’t even seem to see them. He simply does not get the mall where he should be. I definitely agree that the read option won’t work with a pocket passer. You at least need a guy to come in on certain down and distances that can run the ball. I think a mixture of Trask and Jones will be the best option we have. Jones can play against SC and FSU and still redshirt. That being said I expect Mullen to be hard headed and start Franks.

  6. Okay so we have all been right, and we have all been wrong. Various posters here have underlined Franks’ shortcomings and others his upsides. Many have called for Trask to get a chance. I find it somewhat amazing that it has taken this long for him to get that chance, even when we were 3 TD’s ahead of the CSU’s. So, Saturday Trask came in and moved them down the field coolly and calmly at first, but then it didn’t work as well the second series, but at least it was a different look.

    What we DID see in Trask was the cool & calm body language, and the Obvious reading of the defense and the progressions of the wide receivers. I certainly cannot claim to be able to do this difficult skill well, but after many years of observations, I can claim to see the difference between the two. If CDM can win a Naty’ with 5’11”, 190lb Chris Leak being more of a pocket passer than runner, I have trouble seeing how he Couldn’t win some games with Kyle Trask, 6’3″ 230lbs, being more of a pocket passer. Does he have shortcomings? Yes. Did he seem to hold the ball a bit too long? Yes. But when HE holds the ball, we can see him doing the analytical work you see Tom Brady doing – the Algebra of who is where on which route combined with the arithmetic of how long until the defense sacks me? What Franks does with that same time, I am not sure, but I do not see signs of the gears grinding in his head at all, and he seldom gets past his second progression.

    As for running the ball, Kudos to Pat for the dishwasher analogy. I laughed out loud. My 18 year old son treats the dishwasher task exactly like Franks runs the ball. Additionally, while I did like Franks’ spin move to get into the end zone for the Gator’s 1st TD of the game against MO, almost none of that drive succeeded due to Franks’ deft passing. George73’s point of Franks’ single mode of throwing — the LASER beam — shows a lack of basic understanding of quarterback play, as the fade route is designed to go OVER the defender’s position, not through it.

    Three basic passing ideas are – straight -vs- fade, leading -vs- to the body, and which shoulder to throw to.
    Of these, Franks can only claim the straight LASER pass. Yes, Franks managed to toss the heave to Cleve, but outside of those, there are very few “touch” passes to his credit. He has more often than not put the ball in the wrong place for screen passes making the receiver or RB wait to catch the ball, and then those plays, which are based on a quick ‘surprise attack’, are blown-up and unsuccessful. If Franks finds a ‘back shoulder’ with his LASER, I am more inclined to believe that was him being off-target than purposeful.

    Yes, add my vote to the “bench Franks” tally. Trask looked a lot more like Drew Lock, than Franks looked like Dak Prescott. I’m okay with a passing ‘Gunslinger’ who occasionally runs, even if it is not CDM’s preference. We have 3 really, really good running backs, so I don’t think we need that much running from the QB, and if we do, I think Trask is at least not afraid to dry the dishes and put them away.

  7. If Mullen starts Franks again, all the debating I’ve been doing about whether or not we know if he’s a better coach than McElwain yet may be over. If he keeps Franks, he can’t be a much better coach than McElwain, Muschamp, or even Zook.

    • Doesn’t portend THAT, not yet, but if he does start against USC I’ll bet he doesn’t finish more than a quarter. Unless, of course, he has had that certain “Come to Jesus” meeting with CDM and has prospered from it.

  8. Good thoughts, everyone. A couple of mine… 1) Mullen wasn’t about to do a knee-jerk decision about benching Franks and starting Trask standing in front of the media. That would be bad form for a head coach. He’s not going to throw under the bus Franks or any other player. 2) The difference between Trask and Franks is being a passer instead of a thrower.
    The inability to advance the team on Trask’s second opportunity Saturday was due to having to pass every down. Trask showed plenty of ability to utilize an array of receivers Franks has not been able to exploit. Mullen may start Feleipe again but with a quick hook. He’s got to see that Franks has hit a wall and isn’t moving forward. I think we’ll play far better against the Gamecocks, will get a big win behind a new quarterback named Kyle Trask, and that our defense will rebound, too.

    • Clyde, I agree with your assessment of Trask’s second drive and would add that the problem was compounded by CDM running many of those pass plays from 5 wide with no back to help pick up the blitz. Every time I see that I get horrible flashbacks to the ’96 Fiesta Bowl. Both Pat and Robbie have questioned the play calling in this game, and that is one area where I agree. Even the best O lines have trouble handling blitzes in that formation, and I think it would’ve been better to give Trask more protection and time to survey the field. He certainly appeared to be going through his progressions and finding receivers much better than Franks.