Every Feleipe Franks drop back against Michigan analyzed

I keep seeing and hearing about how Florida has a quarterback problem this year. To a certain extent, it does.

However, it’s pretty clear to me that nearly all of the people saying that UF has a quarterback problem did not study up to see how Feleipe Franks performed against Michigan. So, for the general public, here is how he did on every one of his drop backs. I didn’t want to have to go back through this game for a fourth time, but here we go.

His first drop back was a perfectly thrown sideline fade to Josh Hammond.

On his second drop back, no one is open so he throws it away out of bounds instead of force something or take a bad sack. That was the correct decision.

Third up was a quick screen to Tyrie Cleveland where Brandon Powell didn’t hold his block for long enough. Franks did his job entirely right, though, including leaving the ball a bit ahead of Cleveland so he could start going upfield as quickly as possible.

Next up, right guard Fred Johnson—who’d later get benched in this game—and Mark Thompson play matador and leave Franks out to dry. He probably should’ve thrown it away as soon as he got out of the pocket, but he at least tucks the ball away when the defenders close in.

It’s not a coverage sack or a problem of him hanging in the pocket too long. It’s just great defensive players making a good play and the protection failing.

The next drop back was Franks tripping and falling during play action. In speaking after the game about this play and the earlier one when Johnson stepped on Franks’s foot, Jim McElwain blamed Franks’s stumbling on Thompson: “Hitting in on one of the other ones, the running back’s path wasn’t right, which forced him down on one of the play-actions as well. Those are obviously technical things that hurt his performance that were actually caused by others.

I suspect McElwain’s argument is that Thompson went too far wide, causing Franks to have to take a step too far in that direction to sell the play fake. That then got Franks’s long legs crossed up on the bootleg turn. I can’t say I’ve seen that happen before so I’m not sure how much it really works as an excuse, but there it is.

The next drop back is another quick screen. It doesn’t work, but the failure has nothing to do with Franks.

The following drop back turned into his first-down scramble. There’s nothing to complain about here as he outruns many Michigan defenders.

His next drop back is him trying to hit Freddie Swain over the shoulder. Swain is open for that kind of pass, but Franks overthrows him by a yard or two. Good route, good coverage, reasonably good throw that was a perfect spiral in the air. It wasn’t complete, but this wasn’t a horrible miss by any stretch.

On this next one I’d have liked to get another angle to see what Cleveland was doing on his vertical route, but it does seem like it’s a play to hit Powell underneath to get a few yards to set up 3rd-and-short. Which it does.

The next throw was his back-shoulder completion to Cleveland. It’s not the prettiest throw as it’s a bit of a duck, but Franks put it in a place where only the receiver could get it.

This is a nice looking throw, but the corner just makes a good play on it. It’s sufficiently far ahead that the defender could only bat it away and couldn’t intercept it. The receiver, Swain again, didn’t get much separation.

On his first throw of the second half, Franks goes to the double-covered long sideline option instead of the single-covered shorter option. It’s hard to see in the wide angle, but the corner nearly picks this one off.

As with the sideline route to Swain that was knocked away, it was right on the money absent a defender in the area. This one wasn’t the best read, though. As McElwain put it, “We missed on one of the play-actions when we moved the pocket. We probably put it downfield when we shouldn’t have. Those things happen.

Last up is his fumble. I have no good explanation for this one. You can see on a reverse angle that the tackling defender didn’t get a hand on it. Franks just dropped it. It’s some kind of freak play. I’d bet he’s never fumbled like this before and won’t again.

So let’s add it all up.

Franks had two long completions, one to Hammond and one to Cleveland. He had three short completions of varying success on all of which he did his part just fine. He had one throwaway, one slight overthrow, and two passes broken up (one a more defensible throw than the other).

He had one sack where protection had broken down. He also had one trip and fall (due to the running back’s positioning if you believe the head coach). He had two scrambles, one highly successful and one with an inexplicable fumble.

The fumble and him shoveling the ball to the running back on the play where Johnson stepped on his foot were bad decisions, but as I said, the former seems like a flukey play.

The rest was basically fine. I don’t love the bad read on the dual sideline routes, but he’s still just a redshirt freshman. He’s going to make the wrong read sometimes. As McElwain said: “Those things happen.”

What I didn’t see was Franks overthrowing a receiver by five-plus yards. Or skipping the ball at a receiver’s feet. Or throwing it right to a linebacker who he didn’t see dropping back in coverage. Or standing in the pocket too long while completely unaware of his surroundings.

I’ve already explained why the coaches pulled him from the game. They had their reasons.

However, I think a lot of people who didn’t look closely at what happened took Florida benching Franks for what ended up being an ineffective Malik Zaire as some kind of proof that the freshman played poorly.

Overall, Franks didn’t play poorly. He largely acquitted himself well against a tough defense with little help from the line or the run game.

I like what I saw from him. Provided the fumble really was an aberration, Franks showed that he should keep the starter’s role unless he proves himself to be unfit for it.