Every Thursday until the end of the summer, alligatorSports will analyze a position on Florida’s football roster and identify strengths and weaknesses. We’ll start the series by taking a look at quarterbacks.
What a difference a year makes.
At this time last summer, Feleipe Franks was in the midst of a quarterback battle between himself, redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask and freshman Emory Jones.
Franks, who was inconsistent at best in eight starts as a redshirt freshman in 2017, eventually won the job. He took a big step forward in 2018, and for the first time in a long time the Gators won’t have a quarterback battle going into a season.
Franks improved in virtually all categories last season. He threw for 2,457 yards, up from 1,438 in 2017. He threw 24 touchdowns, 15 more than he did in 2017, and cut down on interceptions (six vs. eight). His quarterback rating improved from 113.3 to 143.3, and he also ran for seven touchdowns in 2018 after not rushing for any the year prior.
His season wasn’t without hiccups, however. The low point came against Missouri in early November, when he was benched during a blowout loss and booed off the field. Franks rebounded from that performance, however, throwing eight touchdowns and no interceptions as Florida reeled off four straight wins to end the season.
Franks probably isn’t going to win a Heisman, but there’s reason for optimism. He was the first Florida quarterback since 2010 to start every game in a season (John Brantley), and if he can build off the success he had at the end of last season there’s no reason why he can’t manufacture another solid year.
UF has some stability behind Franks, as well. The most exciting prospect is Jones, a redshirt freshman, who is presumably the quarterback of the future once Franks leaves. The former four-star recruit played sparingly last season but showed flashes of promise, especially against the Idaho Vandals, where he completed 12 of his 16 attempts for 125 yards. Now that his redshirt status has been exhausted, look for Jones to be a bigger factor this year in a wildcat role.
Trask should be a serviceable depth piece as the third string, but barring catastrophic injury it’s unlikely that he’ll see the field in games that aren’t blowouts.
Florida will be without a fourth quarterback this year because of the loss of freshman Jalon Jones, who was accused of sexual battery against two UF students last month before transferring to Jackson State.
Follow Sam Campisano on Twitter at @samcampisano. Contact him at [email protected].