Florida Rallies Past Kentucky but Loses Feleipe Franks in Tough Blow for Gators

Joan Niesen

Despite being down, 21–10, after three quarters, Florida won its first SEC game of 2019 on Saturday evening—but it lost its quarterback in the process. Feleipe Franks, the junior who’s started all three of Florida’s games this fall, injured his right leg with 3:21 remaining in the third quarter of the game. He was carted off of the field, and coach Dan Mullen revealed in his postgame that doctors were “pretty certain” Franks had broken his right ankle. The coach said the quarterback would be done for the season.

Starting against Miami, Tennesee-Martin and Kentucky, Franks completed 54 of 71 pass attempts for 698 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Since the beginning of 2017, Franks had been the primary starter for Florida, and he played a crucial role in the Gators’ 10-win season in 2018, Mullen’s first in Gainesville, which the team capped off with a Peach Bowl victory.

Junior Kyle Trask, who’d attempted just 27 passes for the Gators before Saturday (he’d completed 18 of them), took over for Franks after the injury and helped the Gators mount a comeback; at the time Franks exited, the team was losing by an 11-point margin. With Trask under center, the team relied on the run game, ripping off three fourth-quarter touchdowns on the ground to defeat Kentucky, 29–21. On the evening, Trask finished with 126 passing yards while completing 69.2% of his attempts. Trask carried the ball once, for a four-yard touchdown that gave the Gators their first lead since early in the second quarter.

Trask, a former two-star recruit, is a pro-style quarterback from Manvel, Texas. Standing 6’5” and weighing 239 pounds, he’s as imposing of a figure as the 6’6” Franks, but he’s been injury-prone during his time at Florida. Trask suffered a foot ankle in 2018 that cut his season short, and he also missed all of 2017 with another unspecified injury.

Following the Gators' win, Mullen said the team will use both Trask and redshirt freshman QB Emory Jones going forward. The 6'2" Jones is a former four-star recruit who ranked as the No. 5 dual-threat QB in the 2018 class.

Florida, ranked No. 9 in Week 3, hosts Tennessee in Week 4 and gets a breather in Week 5 against Towson before facing Auburn and LSU back-to-back in Weeks 6 and 7. With the way the schedule breaks, it has four weeks to get Trask acclimated to starters’ reps, and with a top-20 defense, it should be able to hold its own as the offense goes through the transition at quarterback—not that Trask didn’t provide plenty of reasons for optimism Saturday.