GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida fans and media came to the spring game Friday expecting to see a quarterback battle play out in The Swamp.
Instead, we saw a competition that had already been decided prior to the Orange & Blue Debut.
Quarterback Feleipe Franks ran with the starters for the majority of the game, leading them to a 31-0 victory. Orange consisted of the first-team offense and defense, while Blue was made up of the second-team units.
Franks finished 8 of 14 for 119 yards and a touchdown. Fellow redshirt freshman Kyle Trask, working primarily with the second-team offense against the defensive starters, had 66 yards on 6 of 15 passing with an interception and no touchdowns.
The opening drive. Franks completed 3 of his first 4 pass attempts for 56 yards, including a 46-yard bomb to wide receiver Josh Hammond. That series set the tone for the rest of the game and made it clear that Franks is the guy.
The Gators now go into the offseason with their quarterback situation settled. Unless something unexpected happens in fall camp — such as a surge from former starter Luke Del Rio or the potential transfer of ex-Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire — Franks should be the starter for Florida’s season opener.
Brett Heggie appears to have the starting job at left guard, while Fred Johnson and Tyler Jordan are splitting reps at right guard. Jordan had been the presumed starter at that position. And if there was still any doubt, Jordan Scarlett continued to separate himself as Florida’s best back and has improved from the end of last season.
Florida’s first-team offense moved the ball at times with Franks under center, but that was the case in last year’s spring game. Gators coach Jim McElwain always matches up his offensive starters against the back-up defenders, so it’s hard to gauge how good the offense really is. Del Rio, for example, completed 10 of 11 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns last April, then struggled in the fall. How will Franks & Co. fare against Michigan and SEC defenses this coming season?
As for the defensive side of the ball, Florida’s first-team unit should receive a big boost when starting middle linebacker David Reese returns from injury. Also, the Gators likely need a freshman cornerback to contribute in 2017. It remains to be seen which one will emerge in fall camp.
Franks was 5 of 11 for 54 yards with three interceptions in his debut with the Gators last spring. He looked like a different quarterback Friday and, most importantly, didn’t turn over the ball.
What it means:
Now that Florida seemingly has its quarterback in place, the future of the offense rests in the hands of Franks. He was hand-picked by McElwain to run his system and now it’s Franks’ time, ready or not.