Feleipe Franks catches up on jump pass history at Florida
By MARK LONG
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks finally got to see how a jump pass is supposed to look.
Franks scrolled through his phone after the team's season opener, a 53-6 win against overmatched Charleston Southern on Saturday night, and realized he needed to check out two of Tim Tebow's most memorable passes.
Tebow completed two jump passes for touchdowns in his college career with the Gators. The first came in a victory against LSU in 2006 . The other helped beat Oklahoma in the 2008 Bowl Championship Series title game .
"They both looked smooth," Franks said Monday.
Franks declined to say which he preferred. Tebow's first one started with a mid-air pump fake and ended with Tate Casey making a falling-down catch in the back of the end zone. The second was a perfect strike to David Nelson to beat tight coverage.
"Both scored six points on the board, so that's the way I look at it," said Franks, who completed 16 of 24 passes for 219 yards and five touchdowns in one half of work.
Franks acknowledged after the game he had never seen either play. Franks' 3-yarder to Tyrie Cleveland was the highlight of coach Dan Mullen's debut at Florida , a nod to his days as the team's offensive coordinator (2005-08).
Mullen said Monday he didn't call the play. Instead, quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson suggested it.
"Brian Johnson is like, `Hey, let's run the jump pass here,'" Mullen said. "Our guys that communicate together, he's like, `Hey, this is a great spot for it. We drove the ball down the field. We've got them. It's going to look like a quarterback run. It's a quarterback run situation.' You saw them. They all pounded into the line of scrimmage, and it was an easy completion."
True, but the Gators (1-0) also burned a trick play in a 24-point game against a team from the Football Championship Subdivision.
Mullen defended the decision, saying he was trying to create a buzz and give fans something to cheer about after two four-win seasons in the last five years.
He also said showing it now and putting it on tape makes opponents have to spend time preparing for each week.
Mullen first used the old-school football play at Utah, pulling Alex Smith in short-yardage and goal-line situations in favor of running back Brandon Warfield or tight end Ben Moa.
"We had a play in in the goal line where we would direct snap to Ben Moa and he'd power away," said Mullen, who also called it plenty during his nine years at Mississippi State. "And then said as soon as you snap it to him everybody is going to just not think he's going to throw it, and we had a jump pass off of it."
Mullen called it, and Moa ran it to perfection for a 2-point play to beat Air Force in triple overtime.
"One is it's kind of when you call it," Mullen said. "You've got to set it up a little bit to get them not expecting it. So that helps. Two, there's a timing aspect to it for the quarterback and how they jump. We traveled a couple of times during the week (in practice).
"It was kind of funny. I'm like, `Just and throw the ball.' It's nothing complicated. ... A lot of times with plays, you're going to trick plays or like deceptive-type play, it's not really the scheme as much as when you call it."
The Gators, who open Southeastern Conference play against Kentucky (1-0) on Saturday, almost certainly will call it again with Franks.
But Mullen would like to see some tweaks, something Franks should be able to handle now that he's watched Tebow.
"He threw it kind of hard, though," Mullen said. "You're supposed to put a little touch, a little finger roll right there. But nice job catching it. It was kind of cool."
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Updated September 3, 2018