The latest new hope at quarterback for the Florida Gators is redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. A 6-6, 219-pound signal caller from the panhandle, Franks was a 4-star recruit who flipped from LSU to UF during the 2016 recruiting cycle.
The 2017 Orange and Blue Debut was his second spring game. His first could scarcely have gone worse. As an early enrollee true freshman in 2016, he threw interceptions on three of his first four passes. Though he did later throw a touchdown in the scrimmage, it reinforced the decision for Jim McElwain to have him sit a year behind Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby to get up to college speed.
Franks had a far better spring game this year, and he is a strong contender to get the starting job. Let’s go to the film to see what he did well and what he still has to work on in his quest to take the first snap against Michigan.
The Good: Downfield Passing
Once upon a time, Florida football was synonymous with throwing the ball down the field. Even in Urban Meyer’s spread option heyday, deep throws to the likes of Andre Caldwell, Percy Harvin, and Riley Cooper were common. It’s been a long time since then.
The single best thing Franks did on Friday night was throw the ball down the field. He looked comfortable in doing it and found his targets every time.
His best throw was a deep sideline strike to sophomore Josh Hammond on the first drive of the evening: The ball travels about 44 yards in the air and hits Hammond in stride. It’s overthrown by about a yard, but that’s not much to quibble about given Florida’s recent quarterbacking play. Del Rio had one completed long throw like this against Kentucky in 2016 and not much else. It’s the sort of throw that distinguishes Franks in the quarterback battle.
Later on in the game, he hit Brandon Powell nicely on an intermediate crossing pattern: The throw is right between the numbers despite Powell’s slight stature, and just as importantly, Franks makes the proper read on the play. McElwain and Doug Nussmeier love to pair vertical routes with crosses underneath them like what this play has, so reading the coverage correctly in this situation is a requirement.
Finally, Franks found Antonio Callaway on a corner route in the end zone shortly before halftime: The young and inexperienced backup DBs gave Callaway more room than he’ll have against SEC defenses, but Franks doesn’t use any of that room to fudge. He shows good touch to deliver an easily catchable ball right to where it’d need to be if the defenders were closer in.
These were his best three throws of the night. It shows that he has the promise to be the top shelf signal caller that the Gators have been looking for since Tim Tebow graduated (a few games of Will Grier aside). Franks is still a redshirt freshman, though, and he showed that fact as well.
The Bad: Touch […]