Is the curse of Tim Tebow real?
It sure seems like it. The Florida football team hasn’t had a consistently good quarterback since Tebow graduated in 2009. That’s nearly a decade of low-quality play from the signal caller, arguably the most important position on the field.
There have been 11 starting quarterbacks in the past nine seasons, and three different coaches have taken the helm during that span.
Things might be turning around, however.
Current quarterback Feleipe Franks is fresh off a successful season where he led UF to a 41-15 Peach Bowl win over Michigan. He threw for 2,457 yards and 24 touchdowns, numbers Florida hasn’t seen in a while.
Is that enough to determine if Franks beat the Tebow curse?
In this edition of alligatorSports’ “By the Numbers,” we looked into every Gators starting quarterback since Tebow to determine who has been the best over the past nine years.
Question: Is Franks the best quarterback since Tim Tebow?
If we base it off one season, then maybe.
Franks struggled in his first season as the starter, throwing for 1,438 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions in 11 games. That’s over 1,000 yards less than what he threw for this year.
Compare that to Tebow’s numbers and it’s not even close. He had over 3,286 yards in his first season as the starter, followed by over 2,500-yard campaigns the next two years.
Franks could do better next season and put up Tebow-style numbers, but that will be tough to replicate.
Answer: Franks isn’t. Will Grier is
It’s hard to give Will Grier the title of best since Tebow, but hear me out on this.
What Grier did on the field in six games was remarkable. He didn’t lose, edging out teams like then-No. 3 Ole Miss, Kentucky and Tennessee. In those six games, he threw for 1,202 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Because of his one-year suspension due to PED usage, we will never know what Grier could have done while he was at Florida. But we can project it.
Grier averaged 200.3 yards per game. He had eight more games to play in, and for the case of this hypothetical, we will assume he would have stayed on that yards-per-game projection. He would have finished the season with 2,804 yards, which would have been the most in a single season since Tebow threw over 3,000 yards in 2007.
As for touchdowns, Grier was on pace to have 13 more in his first season with the Gators, which would have brought his total up to 23.
Grier could have been special at Florida if he stayed for three years. He was UF’s best quarterback since Tebow.
Looking Forward: Franks has the potential to surpass Grier
Where Grier is full of uncertainty, Franks is not. We have to project Grier’s stats to determine how good he could have been. Realistically, he would have had a hard time against LSU, Florida State and Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
His stats probably would have been below projections.
Where Franks has the edge is he is still at Florida and still playing. We know exactly where Franks will be at the end of next season, which could easily be his best yet.
He is keeping all his weapons on offense and has a stacked running-back corps. The only thing hindering him is an inexperienced offensive line.
We will see if Franks can do even better this year than he did last season.
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quarterback Feleipe Franks led UF to a 41-15 Peach Bowl win over Michigan.