Take a moment to picture yourself as a starting quarterback.
Imagine it’s something you’ve dreamed of and worked for since you stood 4 feet off the ground throwing a foam ball around your fenced in backyard.
Years later, your time comes. Your number is called.
You hit the gym and go through months of strenuous training to whip your body into shape. You read over every play in the book 50, 100 times until every single one is ingrained in your head.
Then game day rolls around.
You lace up your cleats. You run onto the field with your heart pumping so fast you can feel it fluttering with every breath.
Then, when you get onto the field, you struggle. Your team struggles.
You come out the next week and get the same result. Once again, your team doesn’t perform the way you’d hoped, and now everyone turns to you as the problem.
Now imagine how Feleipe Franks feels. Imagine how every quarterback feels when he and his team don’t perform to our expectations.
It’s a hard pill to swallow. And the quarterback is usually the one who takes the bulk of the blame from the fans.
I’m guilty of it.
I was absolutely livid in 2016 when Eli Manning threw a fourth-quarter interception to Redskins defensive back Quinton Dunbar. The Giants trailed 26-24 with 14 minutes left in the game, and all they needed was a field goal.
But Eli tried to force the ball to a COVERED Will Tye in the endzone and misjudged Dunbar’s position. Game over.
I blamed Eli for everything that went wrong. Even though the defense surrendered a double-digit lead in the first half and the offensive line couldn’t stop a Nerf dart with a riot shield.
No. Eli was to blame. I called him every name in the book because I thought he cost us —the Giants — the game, not realizing that he’d done the best he could.
And the point I’m making isn’t some foreign concept. It’s a point that’s been made time and time again. It’s common sense. These football players are merely human.
Feleipe Franks is human. Yes, he’s inconsistent and unproven. He’s still learning, and he’s got miles to go before he can even compete as an elite college quarterback.
But we can’t act like he alone has been the cause of every one of the Gators’ struggles. Granted, he contributed substantially to them last season, but we can’t pretend Franks hasn’t made waves of improvement on the field.
Example: The Gators found themselves in two third-and-long situations early in the game against Kentucky on Saturday.
Franks stepped up in the pocket, found Josh Hammond for an 11-yard gain and a couple plays later found Tyrie Cleveland on a slant for another conversion.
If this were a year ago, Franks wouldn’t have had the poise to make that play.
Now, one loss into the 2018 season, he “has no business playing quarterback” and has no “ability to be a leader”?
Franks was bad in the second half of that game, but the Gators got whipped top to bottom in that loss. Not just their quarterback.
“One game doesn’t define our season.”
Franks said it after the game. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson repeated it and Dan Mullen reiterated it one more time.
So calm down…...for now, Gators fans.
If we get halfway through the season and Franks still isn’t doing what he should as the starting quarterback of this football program, then by all means, crucify him.
But until then, give him a break.
Because like it or not — like him or not — Feleipe Franks is who you’ve got.
Alanis Thames is a sports writer for The Alligator. Follow her on Twitter @alanisthames and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.