Let’s talk about Feleipe Franks.
He was seventh in the SEC last year in passer rating (143.3), tied for 5th in passing touchdowns (24), 10th in yards (2,457) and only threw six interceptions.
Feleipe Franks is average.
Gator fans who consider him one of the best quarterbacks in the conference would be mistaken, and Gator fans who group his talents with the likes of Treon Harris and Jeff Driskel aren’t giving him quite enough credit. Franks will rarely wow anyone with his skills in the pocket or throw perfectly-targeted lasers, but the signal caller was still able to lead UF to its best record since 2012 and a New Year’s Six bowl victory.
But can Florida go beyond that with Franks at the helm? How much QB does it take to win a national championship?
Franks is more than enough.
Let’s look at every QB who has emerged victorious in the College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014. There have been five: Cardale Jones, Jake Coker, Deshaun Watson, Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence.
They all have something in common. Well, I should rephrase – there’s something none of them have in common. A Heisman Trophy. A few of them were nominees, sure, but none of them actually won it.
Even amongst this list, however, there’s an odd man out in Coker. In the year he won a natty with Alabama, he threw more interceptions than Franks did last year (8) and less touchdowns (21), though he had a better passer rating (147.0) and quite a few more yards (3,110).
In my eyes, Coker and Franks are very similar quarterbacks. They’re far from dazzling, but Alabama’s success in 2015 and Florida’s success last year didn’t come from the QB position: it came from the team around it.
Quite frankly, that Alabama team was stacked. Derrick Henry, OJ Howard, A’Shawn Robinson, Reuben Foster, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cam Robinson made up what basically amounted to the college football Avengers. Although UF’s roster wasn’t as talented, it still boasted the likes of Van Jefferson, Jachai Polite, CeCe Jefferson, Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, Vosean Joseph and CJ Henderson, among plenty of others.
In the National Football League, teams need great QB play. The worst quarterback in the NFL playoffs last year was probably Lamar Jackson, and he still fared well as a dual-threat in the seven games he started.
Does it help to have a dynamic quarterback in college football? Of course it does. Is it needed to win championships? I don’t think so.
Franks is average, but so long as UF can field a defense like it did last year and have a solid running back corps to alleviate the load, the Gators’ record with him under center will be anything but.
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells. Contact him at [email protected].