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Florida Gators

Gators- Franks must be better than sloppy opener with Miami

Matt Zemek

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators are 1-0. The Miami Hurricanes are 0-1.

The official historical record says the Gators won. The scoreboard showed that the Gators had more points than the Canes after 60 minutes of regulation on Saturday night in Orlando.

Winning beats losing.

Florida won’t give back its win because of how ugly it was.

Yet, if a win over Miami — always cherished by Florida fans, and rare in the last 16 games of this series (12-4 Miami) — could mean very little, if this scenario “fits the bill” down the road.

This was a win over the Hurricanes, which somehow felt very minimal and uninspiring.

“What a game!”, Dan Mullen exclaimed, when interviewed by ESPN on the field right after the final seconds ticked away:

Yes: What a game. What an atrocious, frightfully bad, jarringly ugly game.

Sure: It was August 24. We knew there would be lots of mistakes and rough edges. Week one football will be ragged and uneven and filled with mistakes.

Yet, a team with SEC Championship aspirations and a No. 8 preseason ranking ought to be able to make at least SOME adjustments, SOME corrections, SOME improvements within the course of a game. Show the ability to polish technique. Show the ability to learn from failure. Show the ability to identify flaws and go in a different direction.

The Gators didn’t really do that.

They won. They won because their front seven smoked Miami’s offensive line; because the Canes missed a short field goal; because the Canes muffed a punt; because Miami missed tackles and suffered an untimely breakdown in coverage which led to a huge gain.

This was a game in which nearly all the points scored came from huge breakdowns — on offense, defense, or special teams. It was the antithesis of a game in which both teams earned what they got.

No, in this contest, both teams were handed gifts.

Yes, it was only August 24, but Florida was supposed to be better than this This doesn’t mean the Gators were supposed to play a low-mistake game. We have already established that this game was going to be messy and sloppy.

But THAT sloppy? That disjointed? That ugly?

Plenty of Gators, particularly in the secondary, have a lot to answer for, but none more than quarterback Feleipe Franks.

This is the harsh reality of Saturday’s win: Franks, who has to be good for Florida to be great, showed no real improvement from 2018. To be more precise, he regressed from the Peach Bowl against Michigan… a game in which, the Wolverines lacked multiple defensive stars because they were preparing for the NFL Combine or Draft.

With his decisions, his throws, his reads, his sense of the moment, his lack of comfort in moving to his left, Franks looked shaky for most of the night, and occasionally overwhelmed. He threw a few darts into traffic, but for 80 percent of this game, he was a liability for the offense, just as he was last year.

Mullen was cautious with Franks. The fact that he was is not problematic as a reflection of in-game strategy, but it is certainly a problem in that Mullen obviously didn’t develop or prepare Franks well enough for the new season.

Then, there was the near fatal interception that Franks threw in the right flat, on first down, into double coverage, at his own 25 yard line, with just 4:20 left in the game, and while Florida led 24-20. That’s the kind of unforgivable decision/throw that doubters will immediately point to, as proof that Franks isn’t going to lead the Gators anywhere by himself.

Can you say, “Well, it’s only August 24”? Yes you can… and maybe this was simply Franks being very unsure of himself in a very early game this season against a good Miami defense.

Maybe, Franks just wasn’t ready for the speed on the other side of the ball, and from now on, he will settle in. Maybe, that’s true.

Most national analysts, I can assure you, probably won’t agree with that. Franks made way too many mistakes to suggest that he will round into form and be conspicuously better this season.

Mullen can’t look at this game and think Franks will be ready for Georgia. It is as though Mullen needs to start from square one after Game 1.

Florida did win a game… but it didn’t win much of any confidence for the road ahead.

Feleipe Franks needs to dramatically improve, and quickly… or this season will fall well short of expectations in Gainesville.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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Florida Gators

Former Gators QB Franks transfers to Arkansas

Florida Football Insiders

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Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks has decided on a new spot for his final year of eligibility and he won’t even leave the SEC. The Gators starting quarterback on and off for the last three years announced on Monday night that he will be transferring to the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Frank’s ended several weeks of speculation as to where he might land by announcing his plans on social media:

Franks help lead the Gators resurgence two years ago under first-year coach Dan Mullen, including a Peach Bowl New Year’s Six game victory over the Michigan Wolverines. Florida finished 10-3 with momentum headed into this season.

However, with sky high expectations for Franks, Mullen and the Gators this past season (they were a preseason top 10 team)ย  Franks played inconsistently for a lot of the early part of the season. Then, things ended horrifically as Franks suffered a nasty fractured leg at Kentucky ending his season.

The 6’6 Franks finished his Gator career with 28 starts 4,500+ yards passing and 28 TDs. However, his at times poor play, including crucial interceptions enraged Gator fans. Next, he announced December 1st that he would be transferring for one more season, as a graduate to be eligible immediately.

Arkansas is in desperation to rebuild after having fired coach Chad Morris after two horrible seasons. They hired Georgia former offensive line coach Sam Pittman at their head coach and Franks will be playing for new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, who spent last season with FSU.

Arkansas is in desperate need of a quality proven quarterback, as they had just three scholarship signal caller options in senior Jack Lindsey, redshirt-sophomore John Stephen Jones and redshirt-freshman K.J. Jefferson. Jones, who is the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, is considered the most experienced of the group. But to show how bad it is, he’s thrown for just 106 yards and 2 touchdowns with 2 interceptions in six career games.

So, clearly Franks, if/when fully healed from the ankle fracture will be heavily counted on for 2020.

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Florida Gators

Gators face annual challenge of who’s leaving?

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Gators end to the season was just as predicted, and now, so too is the leaving of significant players for the NFL, etc.

Florida ended up getting the Virginia Cavaliers in the Orange Bowl and the second-best team in the weakest conference in Power 5 football was no match for the strong talented Gators.

Just before the conference championship games, it was predicted almost everywehre that Virginia would get trounced by the Clemson Tigers, but still be the most likely candidate to face the Gators in a “New Year’s Six Bowl”.

Once the game was confirmed and the lines came out, the Gators were listed as massive 16 point favorites at the best Sportsbooks around the nation.

And, when it came time to tee it up? Florida delivered a win.

The final score was 36-28, as Virginia hung tough by scoring 14 in the 4th quarter and got the backdoor cover on the point spread. Still, the Gators finished sandwiched between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Oregon Ducks at No.6 in the AP Top 25. But, will the Gators still be as good next season?

Will they be better? And who might they be missing?

That brings us to a few key players that have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. Letโ€™s start by taking a look at them.

It seems that as receivers get bigger, corners have been getting smaller. So, C.J. Henderson (above) at 6โ€™1โ€ and 191 pounds is almost an oddity nowadays. He is long, athletic and extremely fast. In short, he was one of the best corners in college football. Heโ€™s declared for the 2020 draft and could go in the first round.

But with so much talent at QB, we could see Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Tua Tagavoilva all go in the Top-10. Then, when you factor in team needs and a few other great corners from Alabama, LSU, and Clemson in Treveon Diggs, Kristian Fulton, and A.J. Terrell, Henderson could fall into the second round. And, it could end up being a steal for some lucky team if that happened.

That said, the Broncos, Seahawks, Vikings, 49ers, and Dolphins all need help at corner. And the Seahawks would be a great landing spot, as they may favor him over some of the other top contenders for his excellent ability in man coverage. That is, if they donโ€™t fill another position need such as DE or OLB โ€“ which would make sense as well since they had the leagues lowest number of sacks during the regular season.

Seniors who will go on are Van Jefferson, Josh Grimes, Freddie Swain, and Tyrie Cleveland. And the Gators will lose some talent in their TE depth with Lucas Krull hitting the bricks. He was usurped by Kyle Pitts but still caught nine balls for nearly 110 yards.

It isnโ€™t a huge loss, as Pitts is one of the best TE in the SEC. But not having that extra option with experience at TE will hurt a bit. A handful of QBs will also be leaving. For starters Nick Sproles, a walk-on back-up out of Winter Park has been sitting behind both Franks and Trask. So, he elected to hit the transfer portal and take off.

QB Feleipe Franks will also step through the transfer portal to another school. His horrible ankle injury opened the door for Kyle Trask to take over. Now, we very well could see Franks move over to Kansas, as he had originally committed to former LSU coach, Les Miles, who’s now there.

Although Trask is on the rise, this does hurt the depth chart. Emory Jones is reliable, but heโ€™s no Franks โ€ฆ at least not yet.

On top of this, Chris Bleich and Umstead Sanders both hit the transfer list. But, the Gators actually are not hurt by this, as they picked up Brenton Cox at OLB which is probably a big part of why Umstead elected to transfer.

Cox has solid experience at Georgia and will likely earn a starting spot with the Gators. He tallied 20 tackles, a sack, a pair for loss, and six tackles in the Sugar Bowl alone! Then, he also racked up three pass deflections on top of all that.

The Gators lost a lot of depth at receiver, but they pick up one with Jordan Pouncy. Heโ€™s big at 6โ€™2โ€ and 205 and has decent speed.

All in all, the Gators wonโ€™t be too much worse for the wear. And, with the shift in emphasis to the SEC West, they have great shot at winning the East and to play for the SEC title next season.

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