The Florida Gators are at an interesting point in their season. After suffering a 17-16 loss to LSU on Saturday, the Gators are 3-2 with a pretty difficult schedule still ahead. This week appears to be a crossroad of sorts.
Florida will now face Texas A&M next Saturday already out of contention for the College Football Playoff. However, if you’ve been watching this team, you knew it was only a matter of time until that happened.
The Florida offense has been, in a word, terrible. Florida ranks #92 in the country in scoring offense, #95 in passing offense, and #96 in third down conversion percentage this season. Mind you, these rankings are out of 129 Division I FBS schools. Not good.
But why has the offense been so bad? I know it’s a tired refrain around Gainesville, but it all starts with the quarterback play.
Feleipe Franks has underwhelmed and the coaching staff has shown such an obvious lack of trust that the passing game appears in complete disarray.
After watching the replay of the LSU game (after attending the day before), it’s clear that Franks is not the guy we had hoped he would be. He is not the savior of the Florida football program.
I don’t mean this as a way to write-off Franks. I hope he proves to be very serviceable and someday makes me eat these words. But I definitely don’t expect it.
Franks has played in five games and accumulated a stat line that looks like this: 50-79 for 665 yards with 3 touchdowns to 1 interception. On the surface those numbers don’t look terrible. In fact they look good. If Florida had only played three games. Franks has been benched twice because of the inefficiency of the offense helping lead to the lack of stats. The other reason for his lack of throws, head coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier don’t trust Franks to make the necessary throws.
Despite Florida’s offense having weapons all over the offensive side of the ball (yes, even with Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett suspended), Franks has a hard time finding those play makers. Tyrie Cleveland, Freddie Swain, and Josh Hammond are all legitimate threats at wide receiver. Brandon Powell, Dre Massey, and Kadarius Toney are all dangerous in the open field. Unfortunately unless they receive the ball behind the line of scrimmage they aren’t getting it at all. In five games both Toney and Powell have ten receptions while Massey has one. (This includes passes behind the line of scrimmage). To put Massey’s stat line in perspective, Feleipe Franks has caught as many passes from himself as Massey has caught from him.
Why hasn’t Franks and the offense gotten these guys involved?
I know everyone wants to see Nussmeier as the answer. It’s just not the case. Nussmeier is calling plays that Franks is comfortable with in the system.
Franks is the one who stares down one receiver too long and takes a sack.
Franks is the one missing the slot receiver who is running an open seam route.
Franks is the one who missed a wide open Brandon Powell not once, but twice on the final two offensive plays against LSU.
Franks certainly didn’t help with the clock management on that last possession as the seconds continued to tick off the game clock.
Franks is the one who isn’t targeting the tight ends (because they aren’t the primary route).
I’m not saying we should give up on Feleipe Franks. I’m just saying that for the good of the program, Florida needs a facelift.
It won’t be long until opposing defenses key in on stopping the run with eight and nine man boxes forcing the Gators to pass the ball.
If Malik Zaire isn’t ready to play, then let’s see what freshman Jake Allen has.
Allen was one of the first recruits to commit to McElwain. He should be a perfect fit for the type of offense that the coach wants to run.
Allow Allen to gain vital experience in what is (almost) a lost season much like what South Carolina did with Jake Bentley last year. Starting Allen this week allows him to make his first start at the Swamp with a week off immediately afterward.
With very little room to go down in the statistical rankings, there’s little reason not to make this move.