Florida opens the first spring practice of the Dan Mullen era Friday, and Mullen said one position, in particular, will get a lot of his attention during spring drills.
Not surprisingly, it’s quarterback.
“That’s my position of comfort. … I will spend a lot of time with the quarterbacks,” Mullen said Tuesday during a pre-spring news conference.
Florida’s troubles at quarterback this decade have been well-documented: No Gators signal-caller has thrown for more than 2,061 yards (John Brantley in 2010) or 12 TDs (Jeff Driskel in 2012) in a season.
Returning starter Feleipe Franks, fellow sophomore Kyle Trask, redshirt freshman Jake Allen and true freshman Emory Jones are the four scholarship quarterbacks, but conventional wisdom is the job will come down to Franks or Jones.
Mullen said the staff plans to be “pretty aggressive” in installing the offense. “We have several different things we can run out of one formation or motion, and we may only teach one at a time (as the install begins),” he said.
Mullen’s quarterbacks run the ball; that’s the way it has been from the time he started as a coordinator at Bowling Green through coordinator stints at Utah and Florida, then as coach at Mississippi State.
Jones was a dual-threat quarterback at Franklin (Ga.) Heard County and was considered one of the top-five dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2018 recruiting class. The other three scholarship quarterbacks ran pro-style offenses in high school and also played in that scheme at Florida. But Franks said Tuesday he has no problem running the ball.
“If I have to, I can tote that rock. … I’ve never been afraid to run the ball and I never will be,” said Franks, a 6-foot-5, 235-pounder who had a 79-yard run – the longest in school history by a quarterback – in last season’s loss to Texas A&M.
Does he fit in Mullen’s offense?
“Me personally, I think I can thrive in it,” Franks said.
While Franks lacks top-end speed, especially compared to Jones, he is a big-bodied guy who proved last season that he can take a lot of hits.
Mullen noted that Franks is on the team’s eight-member leadership council. The members are voted on by their teammates.
“I think for him, it shows that he is on the right path based on his actions,” Mullen said. “The team believes in him as a leader. He’s doing things the right way.”
Mullen said he understands the expectations for his offense, joking that when he was coordinator for the Gators from 2005-08, “If we didn’t score 30 by halftime, people were telling me I’m No. 1 with different fingers.”
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