Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks hasn’t always been known for his poise under pressure, and he’s still not, but he’s getting there.
On the contrary, Franks has a tendency to let his emotions get the best of him when things don’t go his way. He’s made strides with that this season and has seemingly grown up in front of our eyes, but he let a little bit of his former self slip out at Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Not only him, but the entire team struggled to get into the right mentality in a matchup that had trap game written all over it.
Franks threw an interception in the red zone on an RPO early in the first quarter, which negated all of Florida’s momentum at the time, but that’s not the one that took him out of his new and improved mindset.
It actually didn’t come until the second quarter. Vanderbilt had a 14-3 lead, but a 38-yard punt return by Freddie Swain put the Gators’ offense in great field position with a chance to right the ship.
With the ball on the Vanderbilt 34-yard line and a chance to put some more points on the board, Franks couldn’t control the ball on a quarterback run and the Commodores recovered it and returned it all the way to the Florida 28-yard line.
That led to Vanderbilt taking what seemed to be an insurmountable 21-3 lead, and Franks expressed his anger with himself on the sidelines. Quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson didn’t let that attitude get too far.
“He got moody and Brian screamed at him,” said head coach Dan Mullen. “And that was about it, you know. And then he, he’ll tell you, he was moody.”
Franks did admit to letting his emotions get the best of him at that point.
“I was pissed off because I fumbled,” he said. “You don’t like to fumble. I just wanted the ball again so I could just try to make it up. But yeah, I was pissed off.”
This is the point where Franks and the Gators would let that discouragement start to snowball in years past and the game may have gotten out of hand.
Instead, he left his frustrations in the locker room and finished strong. Again, he didn’t do anything too flashy, but he did enough to get the offense back into it and allowed the running backs to do what they do.
He even added a pair of touchdown passes to Van Jefferson and Freddie Swain that brought the 18-point deficit within one point in the third quarter and extended Florida’s lead to 10 points in the fourth quarter.
As bad as things seemed at times in the game, Franks actually had a career day. He completed 19 of his 29 passes for a career-high 284 passing yards. It was his fifth multiple touchdown game of the 2018 season.
“He doesn’t let anything faze him,” Jefferson said. “He came out there and did his thing today. Of course, the turnovers and everything, but you know, he just threw it to the side and kept playing.”
Franks is the leader of this offense, and the other players feed off his energy and emotions. There is still plenty of room for growth in that area, but he proved once again on Saturday that he’s not the same guy that suited up in that No. 13 jersey a season ago.