Florida will stick with Franks at quarterback for home opener against Northern Colorado

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) leaves the field after the Gators’ 33-17 loss to Michigan in Dallas on Saturday. He will start again at home on Saturday against Northern Colorado. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

University of Florida football coach Jim McElwain said he will stick with redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks as his starting quarterback on Saturday when the Gators open their 2017 home schedule against Northern Colorado at the Swamp.


He also dodged the question about whether he would take more of an active role in play-calling. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has come under intense criticism after the 33-17 loss to Michigan on Saturday.

“We’re not going to do that,” McElwain said when asked if he would begin calling plays.

Franks completed 5 of 9 passes for 75 yards and graduate senior Malik Zaire was 9 of 17 for 106 yards and was sacked five times. UF had 11 yards rushing and 192 total yards, converting only 3 of 16 third-down conversions.

McElwain defended Franks to a certain extent and said some plays that appeared to be his fault were the result of mistakes by teammates.

“The left guard stepped on his foot, the running back’s path wasn’t right … technical things that hurt his performance that were actually caused by others,” McElwain said.

McElwain said Franks showed poise in practice and during the game, a neutral-site battle in Dallas against the No. 11-ranked Wolverines.

“I thought he handled it well,” McElwain said. “He’s going to be a good player.”

When asked if Franks was going to be the start beyond, this week, McElwain said: “We’ve got this week of practice and the game and we’ll evaluate after that.”

McElwain said Franks knew he might get pulled during the game. However, McElwain criticized Zaire for being too quick to scramble and said he was on the verge of playing a third quarterback, junior Luke Del Rio.

“He was looking to get out of the pocket first before delivering the ball,” he said of Zaire. “That’s something he’s got to get better at.”

McElwain said play-calling wasn’t the issue when the offensive line had the problems it did protecting the quarterback and the Gators failed to hold onto the football. Michigan had six sacks in the game and UF fumbled five times, losing three.

“It’s tough to call when they’re in your back pocket all the time,” McElwain said. “We’ve got to get better as a staff, make sure things fit.”

McElwain announced that one of the 10 suspended players, wide receiver James Robinson, will play against the Bears. Robinson’s one-game suspension was for using marijuana.

The other nine, including running back Jordan Scarlet and wide receiver Antonio Callaway, are involved an investigation on credit-card fraud and are suspended indefinitely.

Two injured players underwent MRIs on Sunday, defensive back Chauncey Gardner and tight end De’Andre Goolsby. McElwain did not speculate about their status for Saturday.

Northern Colorado at Florida

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville

TV: SEC Network