The Florida Gators beat the Miami Hurricanes 24-20 to kick off the 2019 college football season. The game was close and Miami had a real chance to win the game on the last drive.
The game was close but Florida’s four turnovers were a big reason why Miami was able to stay in the game. Tuesday we talked to Feleipe Franks to break down each of his three turnovers (2 interceptions and a fumble) to see what really happened, what he saw on film and how he and the team are working to correct those issues.
The first turnover came just a minute or so into the second quarter. The drive started with a Kadarius Toney rush and proceeded to matriculate down the field. As the clock ticked double zero on the first quarter the Gators had the ball on the Miami 24 with a 7-3 lead and looked to be going in for another touchdown. Franks found Perine on a third-and-three in the flat. It was a good play call by Dan Mullen and executed well by Franks and Perine. That set up first-and-goal from the Miami seven.
The next play resulted in a fumble that Miami recovered. In real time it was a blunder between Franks and Perine. In slow motion it was a clear miscommunication with the running back trying to take the ball, while Franks tried to keep it and throw the ball. What you don’t see on television is the near side of the field where the Gators had Trevon Grimes wide open on a slant that likely would have scored.
“I was trying to throw it to Grimes. I tried to pull it, it just go mixed up. He thought I was giving it. I was trying to pull it. Things we do every day. Just clean up. The percentage of that happening again in the season is very low,” Franks said when asked about that play. “First game, get all those little mistakes out of the way. Play a very good defense, top four defense. Just get those little things cleaned up. That would have been a touchdown right there. There are a couple of other plays that should have been touchdowns. Get those little things cleaned up and our offense will get rolling again.”
So, ultimately that’s two fourth-year players that need to get on the same page. The onus is on the quarterback there to pull the ball in time because the running back doesn’t have the same view as the quarterback. If the ball is in his gut and he’s past the quarterback he’s going to try to run with it. Franks was late to pull it. It was a mistake. He had the correct intention but the execution was off.
The second turnover was Franks’ first interception.
The previous drive Malik Davis fumbled and Miami’s Shaq Quarterman recovered the ball. The Canes would score to retake the lead, 20-17, with the Gators getting possession back. Mullen went back to Davis to start the drive and the redshirt sophomore picked up one yard setting up a 2nd and 9 from the Florida 26.
Florida came out with an empty backfield, three receivers to the field side and one on the boundary with Kyle Pitts at tight end. Both Tyrie Cleveland and Freddie Swain got behind defenders but their routes were too close to each other.
“(Swain’s route) was supposed to be flatter,” Franks said.
Franks released the ball, intending to throw to Swain but his pass was high. Before talking to the media on Tuesday it was unclear if Franks was trying to hit Cleveland up the seam or if he was intending to throw to Swain, either way the quarterback acknowledged that it wasn’t a good pass. He agreed when a reporter said if his intention was to hit Cleveland that it would have likely been under thrown. His first reaction when asked who he was aiming for was a playful, “which one would sound better.” He knows that the interception was on him. It just wasn’t a good throw. Watch the film, learn from it and do better moving forward. That’s all that can be said about that one.
The final interception came with 4:30 left in the game and the Gators holding on to a 24-20 edge. Florida’s defense had just forced a turnover on downs and the Gators had a chance to ice the game. Everybody in the stadium was ready for Franks to hand the ball off to Perine and watch the senior tailback close things out.
Everyone except Dan Mullen. The head coach dialed up a passing play on first down in hopes to catch the Hurricanes off guard. That didn’t happen, Franks was picked off and Mullen, Franks and Gator Nation were left to sweat out the last four and a half minutes of the game.
Florida lined up with four wide receivers bunched on the field side, Perine next to Franks four yards behind center. The ball is snapped, there’s play action to Perine but Miami doesn’t bite. On the blindside Stone Forsythe is getting beat by Jonathan Garvin, who will clobber Franks right after he releases. In front of Franks Patchan bull-rushed right tackle Jean Delance. Franks had four receivers on the play. One receiver ran a go-route and is quickly 20-30 yards down the field. Trevon Grimes was wide open for a dump off but Delance is pushed into Franks, closing off path he would have had to dump the ball off there. Kadarius Toney fell down running his route. Franks felt the pressure behind him and could see the pressure in front of him. He had to make a decision. Kyle Pitts, who was tightly covered, was his only option near the sideline.
“Ultimately I was trying to throw the ball away. Somebody was right here on me and I was trying to get the ball over him to throw the ball out of bounds,” Franks said using a reporter to show where Delance and Patchan were in relation to him on the play.”
Most watching that play call BS on his explanation there. Franks is still in the pocket so throwing the ball away in the traditional sense would have resulted in an intentional grounding. The Big 12 referees had already ruled in Miami’s favor when Jarren Williams threw to the middle of nowhere but they deemed a “receiver was in the area.” That was Franks’ intention. Throw the ball into an area.
When he went to release the ball Delance was pushed into his right side. In an effort to avoid the contact he extended up on to his toes to get taller and tried to muscle the ball to where it was going. He didn’t have the opportunity to plant his back foot and drive into the throw.
Should he have thrown it? Probably not. You can take the sack there. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than an interception.
Those were the three plays that Franks would love a do over on, each with a mature explanation by the quarterback after he had a chance to watch the film.
The Gators have a lot to clean up on both sides of the ball but Franks didn’t pay a terrible game against Miami. He threw for 254 yards and completed 63% of his pass attempts. He accounted for all three of Florida’s touchdowns. Franks knows he will have to be better against better competition and he’s confident that he will.
“There are things you can clean up. There’s things that everybody can clean up. At the end of the day, we got a win,” Franks said. “That’s the most important thing.”