If Gators are committed to QB Feleipe Franks, they should utilize his athleticism more

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Only so much can be said about Florida’s passing problems, how redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks continues to struggle reading his progressions and finding the receivers who do manage to get open beyond the line of scrimmage.

Franks showed against Texas A&M, though, that his arm isn’t his only asset.

His 79-yard scramble against the Aggies set up a key second-half touchdown and raises a good point, as articulated in the latest Gators Mailbag Question of the Day.

Tony C. asks … “Why don’t they run Franks more? Seems like there are so many first downs he could get if they let him loose.”

Great question. I had the same thought over the weekend while starting to look at Georgia and how opposing teams have fared this season.

The only two teams that even managed to crack 100 rushing yards against the Bulldogs did so with help on the ground from their quarterback. Mississippi State managed 177 rushing yards against Georgia with 47 from quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, and Appalachian State rushed for 136 yards with 66 from QB Taylor Lamb.

If the Bulldogs are at least somewhat vulnerable to quarterback runs, then that is something the Gators should exploit this week.

But moving forward, I also agree with Tony’s point. Maybe Franks isn’t a true dual-threat quarterback, but he’s rushed for a few big first downs this season and looked good doing it. He broke tackles, showed plus straight-ahead speed and good vision on that 79-yard scamper, letting his athleticism take over in the open field.

But don’t be mistaken: For this Gators offense to reach the level it needs and for Franks’ own development, he must elevate his passing performance. Meanwhile, as it seems coach Jim McElwain is staunchly committed to riding it out with Franks, why not throw in some designed runs for the young QB?

Have him drop back, wait for a lane to open and take off. Have him roll out on a bootleg with the option of running if he sees enough room.

Right now, Florida’s offense is entirely dependent on running backs Malik Davis and Lamical Perine to produce. Emphasizing Franks as another rushing threat holds some intrigue.

Ultimately, it would merely be a Band-Aid on the problem. For him to succeed as a quarterback at Florida, he has to improve his decision-making and field vision.

But in the meantime, as those don’t seem to be easily correctable issues, why not try it?

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