MULLEN DEFENDS HIS QUARTERBACK
It was only slightly obvious Wednesday that Dan Mullen has had it about up to here with all the criticism Feleipe Franks has gotten in the media, social media and message boards since Florida's 24-20 season-opening win over the Miami Hurricanes. Franks accounted for all three of Florida's touchdowns in the win – two passing and one running – but there were four turnovers and Franks had a hand in all four. In the first half he was credited with a fumble during an exchange with Lamical Perine even though Perine should have (but didn't) let go of the football when Franks tried to pull it out of his belly on an RPO. On the next UF offensive series, his pitch to Malik Davis was a tad high and resulted in another fumble. In the second half, Franks threw a pair of interceptions, the first of which was tipped by a UF receiver into the hands of a Miami DB.
Of the four turnovers, only the final interception really should be credited to Franks but that hasn't stopped the critics from claiming Franks 2019 has backslid and become the Franks of 2018 who was inconsistent until the last four games. Now, Franks didn't play his best game against Miami, but, as Mullen pointed out, he was going against a defense that “was the number one 3rd-down defense in the country, number four overall defense in the country last year with a lot of guys that came back that could’ve left to the NFL.”
That was a good Miami defense Franks was operating against and it was done with an offensive line that had four new starters, facts Mullen thinks are overlooked by the critics.
"Outside opinions aren't as important as inside opinions,” Mullen said Wednesday when he spoke to the media. “As soon as you figure that out; it's just hard to do. You know? Because not everybody knows what we're supposed to be doing, right? On each play. So it's really easy to judge everybody, 'Oh, well he should have done that on this play.' How do you know what he should do on that play? Right? You didn't game plan it. You weren't in the meetings on the schemes and all that stuff.”
Indeed the critics weren't there and with few exceptions they are clueless into what went into each play call. What were the reads? What did the opposing defense do that might have thrown the timing off or caused some Florida player to go the wrong way or carry out the assignment improperly. Did the O-line block the play perfectly so that Franks had more than adequate time or was he forced to rush a throw or a pitch a split second too early?
And on and on and on.
There is a certain amount of criticism that is fair and just. Franks isn't the type to make excuses for himself. If he makes a mistake he'll own it and you'll never see him pointing a finger of blame at a teammate even when the teammate probably needs to be called out, among the many reasons Franks' teammates love playing with the guy.
A year ago at this time, Franks was having problems blocking out the criticism and it affected his play. It wasn't until he learned that any criticism generated from outside the quarterback room where Mullen and QB coach Brian Johnson hold court, or from outside the Florida football program isn't worth listening to that he blossomed in those last four games.
Now, a game into 2019, he's getting the same criticisms he got last year. So far, at least, he's blocking it out.
“He's grown through a lot of that stuff but it's always hard,” Mullen said. “People don't like to be criticized. Nobody likes to be criticized, but what you've got to do is really be able to block out what's important and what's not important within your criticism and really worry about how, right? If I'm criticizing you or Coach Johnson's criticizing you … you need to worry about that criticism. That's what really is important, of what we think you need to do better and can fix."
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
#2 Alabama (1-0): Nick Saban says Alabama's offense has evolved to more of a pass first because that's the kind of players he has and what they do best. Saban said Wednesday, “Our team right now, lends itself to that type of team… if we didn’t have those type of players, we may not be there right now but it lends itself to the game changing and us changing”… Defensive back Nigel Knott's career is over after the Alabama medical staff has advised him to retire from football. Saturday: vs. New Mexico State (0-1)
Arkansas (1-0): HBC Chad Morris is expecting tight end CJ O'Grady to be at or near full speed Saturday when the Razorbacks visit Ole Miss. Morris will know later in the week if D-lineman Jamario Bell and O-lineman Austin Capps will be ready to go. Saturday: at Ole Miss (0-1)
#10 Auburn (1-0): Auburn is spending extra time on special teams this week after allowing Oregon's Jevon Holland 131 yards on three punt returns, which prompted HBC Gus Malzahn to say, “It could be some personnel changes.” Saturday: vs. Tulane (1-0)
#3 Georgia (1-0): Prior to Saturday's game with Murray State, the university will dedicate the field at Sanford Stadium in honor of former football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley.
Saturday: vs. Murray State (1-0)
Kentucky (1-0): Wide receiver Ahmad Wagner spent three years playing college basketball at Iowa where he averaged 3.1 points per game. As a grad transfer to Kentucky, the 6-5, 234-pounder has switched to football. In the Wildcats first game of the season, Wagner caught three passes for 57 yards.
Saturday: vs. Eastern Michigan (1-0)
#6 LSU (1-0): Texas might be down to one scholarship running back but Coach O thinks the Longhorns will simply shift some of the ball carrying burden to quarterback Sam Ehlinger. “He reminds me of Tebow,” Coach O said on the SEC Coaches Teleconference Wednesday. Saturday: at #9 Texas (1-0)
Mississippi State (1-0): HBC Joe Moorhead was pleased to get 37 rushing yards and a TD in addition to the 236 yards and two passing touchdowns from QB Tommy Stevens. On the SEC Coaches Teleconference, Moorhead said, “Anytime your quarterback can be a threat in the running game, it challenges the full length of the field.” Saturday: vs. Southern Miss (1-0) Missouri (0-1): The understatement of the week came from Mizzou HBC Barry Odom in assessing the performance on both lines of scrimmages after the Tigers gave up 297 rushing yards agains Wyoming and averaged only 2.71 yards per carry when they tried to run it. “We didn’t run the ball well enough and we didn’t stop it well enough. That’s something we have to work on… if you don’t it’s going to make for a long year.” Saturday: vs. West Virginia (1-0) Ole Miss (0-1): HBC Matt Luke assessed the first game of QB Matt Corrall, saying, ““He made some good decisions and he made some poor decisions; it was his first start so there are some things we can do to help him. It starts with the offensive line and the receivers.” Saturday: vs. Arkansas (1-0) South Carolina (0-1): HBC Will Muschamp said he understood why South Carolina fans were so upset with the loss to North Carolina. “We're pissed off, too” Muschamp said Tuesday night. Saturday: vs. Charleston Southern (0-1)
Tennessee (0-1): Another Tennessee player is leaving the program. One day after it was reported defensive back Terrell Bailey was bolting, wide receiver Jordan Murphy elected to transfer out. Both departures were confirmed by HBC Jeremy Pruitt. Saturday: vs. BYU (0-1)
#12 Texas A&M (1-0): Jimbo Fisher knows that for the Aggies to have a chance to knock off #1 Clemson in Death Valley Saturday that they must get enough pass rush to disrupt Trevor Lawrence. “If he gets comfortable, you are in trouble,” Fisher said on the SEC Coaches Teleconference. “He is so tall, he’s tough to disrupt, he can see over everything. That will be critical.” Saturday: at #1 Clemson (1-0)
Vanderbilt (0-1): Derek Mason on defending a Jeff Brohm-coached offense: “He knows how to get these guys the ball, they have a good running game … He will spread you out, force you to make open tackles in space.” Saturday: at Purdue (0-1)
GOOD QUOTES FOR A THURSDAY
From Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports on Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt following the Vols' stunning, 38-30, loss to Georgia State:
“The flip side of pulling off a stunning upset is being the team that was stunningly upset. Pruitt’s second team was supposed to take a big step forward from last year’s 5-7 mark, but the Volunteers were pushed around and beaten down to the point that they looked like they gave up in the final quarter and a half – at least defensively. Pruitt should feel fortunate that his boss is Philip Fulmer and not the late Frank Broyles, who as Arkansas athletic director once famously forced out coach Jack Crowe after a season-opening loss to The Citadel.”
Georgia is paying Murray State from D1AA $500,000 to play in Athens this weekend. Coach Kirby Smart believes it is important for the D1 schools to play the teams from D1AA and non-power conferences:
“Well, I mean I think it’s the lifeblood of a program. If you went and poll them, they would tell you without some of the bigger schools, they wouldn’t have a program. It’s their opportunity to fund their program. I have been a huge salesman in the game and sport of football. I hope one day my son that plays football will have an opportunity to go play somewhere and the more opportunities they have I think it gives kids a wonderful chance to get a free education. If we don’t play FCS teams, there’s probably going to be some of them flip and go under especially the way television is today and attendance has dwindled. That’s the lifeblood of our program. I certainly want to try help support them, not at the cost of our fanbase not getting what they want. There’s a medium in there.”
From Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports on Jalen Hurts spectacular debut in an Oklahoma uniform:
“The 508 total yards and three rushing and three passing touchdowns against Houston from Hurts weren’t reality a surprise when you consider taking a player of Hurts’ talent, experience and production and combining him with an offensive mastermind of [Lincoln] Riley’s caliber. Riley has emerged as the creative and innovative answer, this decade’s version of Urban Meyer or Chip Kelly. And the results have been equal-parts devastating and enjoyable.”
From Chris Vianni of The Athletic, Wyoming coach Craig Bohl talks about his team's surprising win over Missouri:
“While there were four or five plays and those plays pushed us over the top, what I noticed at the beginning of the game was our offensive line being able to knock them off the line, our skill players running with them and our backs running away from their defensive guys.”
COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUFF
Jake Haener, who left Washington when he lost the starting QB job to Georgia transfer Jacob Eason, has transferred to Fresno State. He will sit 2019 and have two years of eligibility remaining.
Notre Dame running back Jafar Armstrong will miss 1-2 months of the season after suffering an abdominal injury in the season opening win over Louisville.
Georgia State safety Remy Lazarus wasn't too impressed with the Tennessee Vols, whom the Pathers beat, 38-30, at Neyland Stadium last Saturday. “I think [Furman] will give us a tougher battle than we faced Saturday, if you want to be honest,” Lazarus told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys have had a meeting of the minds. Elliott signed a six-year contract extension for $90 million with more than $50 million in guaranteed money … New York Yankees injured outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is heading to Tampa to take extended batting practice in anticipation of being reactivated … Former Gator running back Mark Thompson was given his practice squad release by the Detroit Lions … Former Gator Pete Alonso grabbed the Major League lead in home runs when he hit his 45thWednesday to help the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals, 8-4.