Feleipe Franks will be the Florida Gators quarterback this Saturday when the Gators play No. 3 Georgia.
Franks, barring injury, will be the Gators’ starter against Missouri the following week and the rest of the games to follow as well. Jim McElwain made that point crystal clear on Monday afternoon.
McElwain was asked about backup quarterback, Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire three times Monday.
Will Zaire, who replaced Franks in the season opener, get a second chance to play or start?
“Yeah, there will be, if he keeps continuing to work and getting a little bit better.”
A less than revealing or informative answer from McElwain drew a follow up question — Does Zaire just not fit what you guys are trying to do offensively?
“He’ll continue to work the way it’s been and get his opportunities when and if that comes up.”
Sounds like Zaire is in the same boat as all of the great plays that McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier just don’t get to on a weekly basis. Still, there are five games left and if Florida is pushing all in on Franks they need to start getting more out of him.
Currently Franks ranks last among qualifying quarterbacks in the SEC in yards per game (133.3). This season he’s passed for 800 yards four touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s had some impressive runs, a 16-yard rush on third and 13 against Michigan and a 79-yard rush against Texas A&M stand out.
Franks’ biggest problem is glaring though. The redshirt freshman has had trouble scanning the field, often locking in to one receiver after the ball is snapped. His coach sees it, it hasn’t changed in six games and there doesn’t seem to be much correcting of the issue from the staff, who have had the same criticism of quarterbacks the past two seasons.
After the loss to Texas A&M Franks himself said, “I can’t see the whole field” when asked about missing an open receiver and deciding to check down instead.
“The big thing is don’t get locked in. Don’t pre-set or pre-determine a little bit,
McElwain said. “Just take your one cue and move from there and throw it to those guys that are open.”
It’s obvious that Franks’ is having issues with the passing plays that Nussmeier is calling. Florida’s passing game is 11th in the SEC (182.3 yards per game). They have a quarterback, who at least in some fashion, has shown that he can be mobile and two running backs that are having good seasons.
Why not use the mobility more? Why not ask less of Franks in the passing game, kind of like Georgia is doing with true freshman Jake Fromm.
Sophomore safety Chauncey Gardner was asked about Fromm on Monday.
“I mean, you say they have a great quarterback – I get it. He’s throwing simple passes – I get it. Anybody can throw a slant,” said Gardner.
Well, maybe Gardner should replace Nussmeier as the Gators’ offensive coordinator and start calling plays from the sideline.
It’s clear that McElwain and Nussmeier have hitched their wagon to Franks. Whether it’s they believe that he is the best option now, or want to groom him for the future they’ve made it clear that he is their guy. They continue to try and fit Franks into what their idea of a quarterback is rather than play to the young passer’s strengths, make things simple and put him in positions where he can be successful.
Keep doing that and Georgia’s defense will have a field day Saturday. Keep doing that and you may not even have a bowl game to play after the regular season.