Feleipe Franks

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) was pressured by LSU defensive players on seven of his nine incompletions in the second half of the Gators’ 27-19 win Saturday.

 

“Feleipe Franks isn’t as good of a quarterback as Joe Burrow.”

That’s not exactly a hot take. After all, LSU’s quarterback finished with more yards and more completions in Florida’s 27-19 win over LSU. Burrow hadn’t thrown an interception all season until the 1:45 mark in the fourth quarter in the Swamp. He took advantage of mismatches on receivers and looked like an above-average quarterback when he wasn’t getting hounded by the Gators’ defensive line.

“Franks isn’t as good of a quarterback as Burrow.”

It’s not a hot take. It’s just wrong.

Franks showed better instincts, better poise under pressure and better decision-making abilities than Burrow throughout the game.

Franks’ second-half stats aren’t much to look at. He completed 6-of-15 passes for 91 yards and threw a crucial pick in the red zone. But the nature of those six incompletions is something to examine.

Franks threw the ball while under pressure in the second half. A whole lot of pressure.

Florida right guard Fred Johnson flat-out whiffed on his block of LSU nose tackle Breiden Fehoko on UF’s second play of its opening drive in the second half. Fehoko pushed Johnson to the ground, ran right by him and attacked Franks’ midsection.

Was Moral Stephens open down the seam for what could’ve been his second touchdown of the day? Absolutely. Could Franks have hit him before LSU safety Grant Delpit crossed his path for the interception? We’ll never know thanks to Fehoko’s pressure.

What about all the other incompletions? Of the eight he threw in the second half, seven came while Franks was either running to escape pressure or while he was being dragged to the ground.

Second-and-10 at the UF 20. The Gators had just given up a field goal and led 14-13. Left tackle Martez Ivey takes a step toward the left guard to help Tyler Jordan kick out to the right. That leaves LSU linebacker Michael Divinity Jr. to rush unimpeded toward Franks. He steps up into the pocket and looks to receiver Trevon Grimes on a crossing route. Offensive lineman Brett Heggie, who has replaced our friend Fred Johnson at right guard, takes his man and drives him to the left of Franks.

What Heggie probably wishes he should’ve done next would’ve spared Franks a lot of pain. LSU defensive end Rashard Lawrence stunts inside to where Heggie used to be and gets a free shot on the quarterback, doubling him over Divinity Jr., who has hit him at the waist.

Incomplete over the middle. Divinity Jr. gets pressure on the next play and forces Franks to throw it away. Three-and-out.

That was the story throughout the game. Franks has trouble under pressure. Any quarterback not named Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers does. But he made plenty of good decisions to throw the ball away while getting harassed by defenders.

“You’ve got three guys that won Heisman Trophies that have statues in front of the stadium that played your position,” coach Dan Mullen said after the game. “There’s always pressure at (the) quarterback position.”

Franks has shown he can handle the mental pressure. If he can get protection from the physical pressure, he can be a good quarterback.

 

Follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin or contact him at [email protected]

 

Morgan is the sports editor at The Independent Florida Alligator. He has previously covered the Gators baseball and women's basketball teams. He began working at the Alligator in spring 2016.