Florida makes right decision sticking with QB Feleipe Franks as starter in Week 2

By Adam Silverstein
September 4, 2017
Florida makes right decision sticking with QB Feleipe Franks as starter in Week 2

Image Credit: Courtney Culbreath/UAA

Despite being pulled midway through the game, redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks will return to his starting role as the Florida Gators host the Northern Colorado Bears on Saturday, head coach Jim McElwain announced on Monday.

“We’ll go back with Feleipe,” said McElwain. “That was kind of the plan. I think both guys did some things, some things they’d like back.”

Franks, who completed 5-of-9 passes for 75 yards in the game and showed off some wheels with two long third-down conversions (only to fumble at the end of the second one), was never reinserted into the game after McElwain pulled him for graduate transfer Malik Zaire in the third quarter. Zaire was relatively poised albeit ineffective, completing 9-of-17 passes for 106 yards as the pocket continuously closed around him.

“Feleipe, I thought he obviously did exactly what he was supposed to do on the first play. He did get us a big first down on a third-down scramble. Ball security is an issue on the next one. But for the most part [he played well],” McElwain said. “… Right guard took the wrong step, stepped on his foot down in the red area. And then, on one of the other ones, the running back’s path wasn’t right, which forced him down on one of the other play actions as well. Those are technical things that hurt his performance that were caused by others.”

It was not necessarily a curious decision for McElwain to give Franks a breather following his fumble and a couple miscues earlier in the game — he tripped twice after retrieving the ball from under center — but the fact that Franks was never put back into the game was a head-scratcher considering Franks made a couple really nice plays early and Zaire was unable to move the ball any better while being concerned with the Wolverines’ pass rush.

“I thought Malik, he was probably looking to get out of the pocket first before delivering the ball,” McElwain said. “You could see that from the standpoint of the comfort piece, and that’s something he needs to get better at.”

Michigan pulled starting QB Wilson Speight after he tossed consecutive pick-sixes early in the contest but brought him back after a single series, and Speight responded with a solid performance the rest of the game.

“We actually were going to go with Luke [Del Rio] there in the two-minute situation. If there was something, that would’ve been the one thing [I’d change from my decision-making],” said McElwian when asked if he would not have pulled Franks in retrospect. “We just felt [Zaire] gave us an opportunity there to get out of some of the trouble maybe we were in.”

McElwain going back to Franks here should give the second-year player some confidence, and the fact that Franks will get to line up against Northern Colorado — presumably one of the two easiest teams on Florida’s 2017 schedule this season — will provide the coaching staff with a more reasonable look at what he can do in game action against a less-dominant defense.

It should also go a long way towards reversing whatever effect McElwain’s poor decision on leaving Franks out for the majority of the second half had on the young player. Simply put, Franks — and his teammates — needs to feel good about the quarterback’s role with this team considering how much of a known quantity Del Rio is for this offense.

With Tennessee coming up in Week 3, McElwain will have a better idea of whether he wants to stick with Franks as his starter for 2017 or potentially turn the team back over to Del Rio, the redshirt junior who despite coming off multiple offsesaon surgeries was reportedly the most consistent quarterback in fall practice. Del Rio went 5-1 as a starter in 2016, though he mostly served as a game manager and not a playmaker at the position.


  1. 1974Gator says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing Franks get the second chance. It would be nice to see real pass blocking pockets being formed and him getting 2-3+ seconds to find receivers that separate and have a step on their coverage. Hey, maybe we will even get to see a balanced attack with run blocking that springs a down hill runner like Perrine or Thompson for 5+ on average. You notice I didn’t mention Callaway or Scarlett. They should be demoted to third string and have to earn their playing time all over again. We are gonna have to start scoring a lot of points because our LBs numbers are thin and the DB/S numbers got thinner and younger last Saturday.
    Another thing, I think I understand why Will Grier left us. It was his decision when Mac told him that he wouldn’t hold the starting QB position open for him when he finished his suspension. It frosts my ass to see our x-starters and cast offs start for other schools and have more success then when they played for us. I expect to see some REAL QB whispering going on by Nuss and Mac soon or I’m gonna start to lose patience quick. I’m starting to suspect that we have had a lot of quality QB talent since Tebow left but didn’t have the coaching to get our teams to play the OBC caliber of football we should have been playing. He showed us how to win with the talent you have, no matter who is on the roster.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Bingo. We have had a lot of talent both at QB and at WR in the years we supposedly didn’t. We just haven’t had much coaching and Jackass, uh, I mean, Gator Nation, tends to be very hard on their qb’s … so they transfer …. and thrive.

      • 1974Gator says:

        Gator nation wouldn’t have anything to bitch about if we had a coach mixing up effective run and pass plays and coaching the offensive playmakers (QBs, RBs and designated receivers) on how to be open when the pass blocking breaks down. Do you think the OBC had super O line talent every year? He had to manufacture positive yards from what he had. We have all this dangerous offensive talent that’s supposed to be so dangerous in space – lets use it to keep the opponent’s D honest. I used to love watching Spurrier’s weird formations screw with the defense’s mind.
        Nuss has had only one successful stop (Washington) where he could possibly take credit and show significant total offense improvement but even them he had Steve Sarkasian working with him. The other two successes were at Bama and Mich where they had already established success and he managed premier talent rosters. Mac needs to revisit his coaching contacts file and start a search for an OC with imagination. My mind is going in so many different directions thinking about how to solve the offense issues.

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