Franks, Orange Squad Leave Backups Feeling Blue 31-0

Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks had a decent night in passing for 119 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks sets up for the Orange team in Friday’s O&B Debut spring game. Box Score | Photo Gallery

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Clearly, Feleipe Franks has a leg (and arm) up on his competition to be Florida’s starting quarterback heading into the 2017 season, given the events Friday night in the Orange & Blue Debut.

Playing with the first-team offense, Franks completed eight of 14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown pass to lead his Orange squad to a 31-0 rout of the Blue before an estimated 48,000 at Spurrier/Florida Field.

Franks, the 6-foot-6, 219-pound redshirt freshman from Crawfordville, Fla., didn’t waste any time showing off his arm strength and touch, lofting a 46-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Josh Hammond on the game’s first series to set up a touchdown and later fired a 16-yard scoring strike to junior wideout Antonio Callaway .

"He’s ahead," Coach Jim McElwain said of Franks afterward. "No doubt about it." Meanwhile, fellow redshirt freshman Kyle Trask , the 6-4, 238-pound Manuel, Texas, product who entered spring practice in a dead heat with Franks, had a rough outing, but did so playing mostly with second- and third-teamers on his way to going 6-for-16 for 66 yards and an interception. Trask’s best series came after he threw an interception for the Blue and immediately was installed as the Orange quarterback. He marched the team 61 yards to a touchdown against the UF backups.

The Orange led 17-0 at halftime after out-gaining the Blue in total yards 168-13.

The big Franks-to-Hammond completion set up a 1-yard touchdown run by junior tailback Jordan Scarlett just over five minutes into the game. It set a much more encouraging spring-game tone for Franks compared to a year ago when — just three months out of high school — he threw a trio of interceptions while playing exclusively with reserves.

"Obviously, that was a big confidence booster, and a big role of playing quarterback is having confidence," Franks said of the early long ball. "It’s been a tremendous difference this year [compared to last year]."

This time, though, it was Trask’s turn to face the Gators’ A-Team defense. After a three-and-out on his first series, Trask was sacked by defensive end Jabari Zuniga for a 9-yard loss and also fumbled, but covered it up himself on the final play of the first quarter.

On the Orange’s ensuing series, Franks marched his offense 74 yards in 13 plays, with a nice 21-yard crossing completion to slotback Brandon Powell and a 15-yarder to Antonio Callaway (with the wideout vaulting a defender) the key plays. The drive, however, stalled at the Blue 4 and Eddy Pineiro was called on to kick a 21-yard field goal to make the score 10-0 in the second period. The second-quarter touchdown reception by Antonio Callaway (81) came in front of a well-dressed former Gator who knew a little something about finding the end zone (See […]