Breaking down Florida Gators' quarterbacks from the spring game
GAINESVILLE - As the ball lofted through the air, the estimated 48,000 fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium held onto hope. Was this what they'd been waiting for?
When it landed 46-yards later in the waiting arms of wideout Josh Hammond, a hum filled the field. Yes, this was what they'd come to see.
The pass came from redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks, who worked exclusively with the first-team offense in Friday's Orange and Blue Debut. It happened on the first drive and set the Gators up for a touchdown five plays later against the second-team defense. It was also Franks' longest toss of the night.
After the game, coach Jim McElwain said Franks has separated himself in the team's quarterbacks race thanks to consistency and mobility, though the competition isn't over.
"I think he's ahead," McElwain said. "There's no doubt about it... We'll find out over the summer."
Aside from his throw to Hammond, Franks never exceeded 21 yards while working against Florida's second-team defense. He finished 8-of-14 for 119 yards and a touchdown and said that moving forward, he'll need to work on going through his progressions and footwork, among other things.
"There's a lot of things that we did well," he said of the quarterback unit, "but there's a lot of things that we need to fix."
While Franks spent the night having moderate success playing with UF's presumed starters, fellow redshirt freshman Kyle Trask spent his night struggling to do anything against Florida's first-team defense.
It started with a three-and-out on his first drive and didn't get much better from there. A former high school backup who came to UF as a three-star recruit, Trask finished 4-of-13 for 31 yards - 21 of which came on one play - while working with the second-team offense. His struggles also included a fumble and an interception on a ball thrown into double coverage. But he didn't seem discouraged.
"It's going to be a dog fight until the very end," he said. "All I've got to do is keep working my tail off."
Trask did find some success when he got a chance to play with the first-team offense in the third quarter. In his one drive with the starters, he went 2-of-2 for 35 yards on a drive that resulted in a Lamical Perine rushing touchdown.
Then there was Kadarius Toney.
The early enrollee who came to Florida billed as a playmaking athlete didn't get an opportunity until the third quarter, but when he did, he had some bright moments.
On one play, he shuffled to his left, reached the sideline and heaved a ball toward the end zone. It found Tucker Nordman for the score. He finished the game 3-of-5 for 38 yards passing.
On several others, he ripped off chunks of yardage on runs, visibly stomping his feet and yelling after each gain. He was the game's leading rusher with 74 yards and picked up the longest run of the game with a 34-yard scamper.
He also managed to get hit late out of bounds twice, yielding a pair of 15-yard penalties - an impressive feat in its own right in a spring football game.
"He's got a ways to go," McElwain said. "And yet, he's a guy that I'm glad he's a Gator."
McElwain praised Toney as a playmaker after the game, saying he needs the ball in his hands. He also said that, while nothing extraordinary happened in the scrimmage, he's pleased with his quarterbacks overall.
"I think we're gonna be all right," he said.