Dan Mullen has announced that the Gators would start Feleipe Franks at quarterback for the opener against Charleston Southern- but he also made it clear that this is not necessarily the end of the battle.
Mullen told the media that Franks’ ability to extend plays was what gave him the edge over Kyle Trask and Emory Jones. He also added that the fact that Franks played last year did not factor into his decision to start Franks for this year’s opener. That means that Franks came back and won the job fresh this offseason, and wasn’t given it for continuity purposes. So that’s good.
But Mullen also made a point to say that his decision was based on who he thought was the quarterback that could best help the Gators win now, as opposed to who had the brightest future, a subtle nod to Emory Jones. He also made a point to say that the battle was really close, and that he would not rule out replacing Franks in the middle of the Charleston Southern game if the situation dictated it.
For all Gator fans, the fair- and healthy- thing to do now is give Franks another chance, because regardless of what you think about him, he is our quarterback. And if he succeeds, our favorite football team succeeds. So let’s get this out of the way now: of course I’m rooting for him to do well, and so should you, because refusal to do so easily earns you the label of a bad fan.
That said: the last time Franks was on a football field for a live game, he singlehandedly gave FSU a free win with three interceptions plus a damaging fumble that was returned for a score. And the sum of his career in Gainesville prior to that day wasn’t exactly Heisman Trophy material, either. What he’s done in practice in the three offseasons he’s spent in Gainesville really doesn’t matter: holding onto the ball too long, lobbing dying ducks into quadruple coverage, locking onto his first receiver and failing to go through his progressions have been the impressions he’s left fans with.
But Feleipe Franks’ legacy isn’t quite cemented yet. He has been given a chance to overwrite his previous mistakes, of which there have been many, and put on a second act for the ages. And if he does do this, if he can bounce back and put together a respectable third season as a Gator, it will simultaneously prove the theories that Jim McElwain does not know what the hell he’s doing- and more importantly, that Dan Mullen does.
And that would be as telling of an indication that we got what we wanted with this coaching hire as we could possibly get this soon.