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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Now seems as good a time as any to say it: I told you so.

For all the early-season skepticism surrounding Dan Mullen’s decision to start quarterback Feleipe Franks over Kyle Trask and for all the overreaction disguised as “fair criticism” that was thrown in Franks’ direction after Florida’s Week 2 loss to Kentucky.

I told you so.

I told you it would take time for Franks to fully acclimate himself with Mullen’s system. I told you to give it some time before judging whether he’s improved from last year.

And he needed just one game to prove those sentiments true.

Franks strung together the best performance of his college career Saturday night in the Gators’ 13-6 win against Mississippi State.

He hadn’t been much to rave about so far this season, even though he entered the contest with a 6:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Franks performance in Starkville wasn’t so much about the numbers, though, despite it being a solid outing on the stat sheet (22 for 31, 219 yards).

It was about what his performance meant.

It showed that whatever Mullen and his staff are doing to develop the redshirt sophomore is working.

Franks showed poise in one of the most hostile environments in the SEC. And that poise seemed to rub off on his teammates.

“Feleipe, he’s very confident,” receiver Kadarius Toney said. “We rely on him and he (relies) on us, so we have faith in him.”

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No amount of artificial crowd noise in practice could have prepared Franks and this Gators team for the ear-splitting clanging of cowbells at Davis Wade Stadium.

But that ultimately didn’t matter on Saturday.

Franks remained composed amid the pandemonium. He made some solid reads and good throws down the field. He managed the game pretty well as the crowd’s intensity eventually weakened along with the hopes of the home team walking away with a win over its former coach.

Franks still hasn’t proven that he can take a game into his own hands and squeak out a win. He didn’t even throw for a touchdown in Saturday’s victory, due to some trickery by Mullen that left Toney slinging a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Moral Stephens.

Still, it’s probably time to admit that some of the criticism earlier in the season was premature. Maybe praising him for one (semi) complete performance is a bit premature as well. But you have to take what Florida gives you week to week, and Franks gave Gators fans a little hope that he has what it takes to at least help this team to a winning season.

The answer to whether Feleipe Franks is actually a good quarterback still lies in the future. But at least he’s starting to confirm that he really was the best choice as the Gators’ starting quarterback.

 

Alanis Thames is a sports writer. Follow her on Twitter @alanisthames or contact her at athames@alligator.org.

 

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