Florida Team News

Feleipe Franks in lead in Florida QB race: ‘There’s no doubt about it’

Feleipe Franks Florida spring game 2017
Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports

Florida wrapped up spring practice Friday night with the Orange & Blue debut. The Orange (mostly first-teamers) beat the Blue (mostly reserves) 31-0. Here are the biggest takeaways.

FRANKS IS CLEARLY THE GUY

Florida coach Jim McElwain said Monday there was some separation developing in the race between redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask to be the team’s starting quarterback.

Now, we have a better idea of just how much.

Franks worked solely with the first team and only played the first half. Trask was left to flounder with the second team for most of the game. That unit stood no chance against Florida’s defensive starters.

Franks was far from perfect, but he did enough to take plenty of momentum into the summer. He was 8-of-14 for 119 yards with one touchdown, and consistently moved the offense, guiding scoring drives on three of four possessions. But there was a low degree of difficulty with the second-team defense out there.

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McElwain made it clear Franks has control of the race.

“He’s ahead,” McElwain said. “He played decent. … He’s ahead, there’s no doubt about it.”

McElwain, who said he wanted to see how Franks progresses over the summer, was asked what helped Franks separate from Trask.

“His consistency,” McElwain said. “His escapability, which helps. He’s kind of a sneaky athlete. I thought that was something that helped him.”

Franks completed his first three passes; the third was a well-thrown 46-yarder to sophomore wide receiver Josh Hammond. The Gators finished that drive with a touchdown run by junior Jordan Scarlett. Franks’ 16-yard touchdown pass to junior Antonio Callaway was a crisp throw.

Franks rarely had to come off his first read, but did complete passes to secondary targets multiple times. He does need to become a more instinctive passer. He fired the ball in at times when a finesse throw would’ve been the smarter play.

Franks also missed some throws high, but his potential to be Florida’s best quarterback since Tim Tebow graduated (OK, it’s a low bar) is evident.

OTHER TIDBITS

* It’s almost unfair to judge Trask off this game. He finished 4-of-13 for 31 yards and an interception. He nearly threw another pick. The second-team line missed a block entirely on multiple plays. When Trask got a possession with the first team in the third quarter, he fared better.

* Scarlett showed an impressive display of patience, shiftiness and toughness. He has a chance to be a 1,000-yard rusher.

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* Redshirt freshman linebacker Jeremiah Moon flashed on the Blue defense. His ability to cover in space is rare.

* Senior running back Mark Thompson lost a fumble without being hit. He bounced back, but his ball security is an alarming problem dating to last year.

* McElwain had said the scheme would be vanilla with the Gators opening the season against Michigan. UF even radioed in plays so that it didn’t have to use hand signals, and Franks had to cover the earholes in his helmet at times to get the call from offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

* Sophomore linebacker Vosean Joseph delivered a couple of nice hits and picked off Trask. Senior cornerback Duke Dawson broke up the pass that Joseph intercepted.

* Senior safety Marcell Harris had a nice pass breakup, but did miss a tackle downfield after Thompson got going on a screen pass from Trask.

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* Early-enrollee quarterback Kadarius Toney ran for 74 yards. It’s easy to see why McElwain has raved about him. Toney possesses elite acceleration and good field vision. He could be a handful for opposing defenses in a limited number of snaps a game. Toney also scrambled away from a trio of defenders and threw a touchdown pass. It was impressive; it also came against a defense loaded with guys who won’t be dressing out in conference games this fall.

* Junior kicker Eddy Pineiro missed a 50-yard field goal that hit the upright. It had the distance to be good from 60-plus yards.

* There did not appear to be any serious injuries.

(You can email Hays at email hidden; JavaScript is required and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)

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