GAINESVILLE, Fla. — There was no shortage of opinions Saturday about Florida’s offense, the struggles of the line, the way the coaches utilized the quarterbacks, etc.
And senior running back Mark Thompson has a few of his own as well.
Thompson has usually been engaging and candid in interviews since joining the program last year as a junior college transfer, and when the topic of redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks came up he didn’t hide his thoughts.
“I mean, it was the man’s first game. He played well in my opinion. We got to let him play the full game. We can’t take him out halfway through the game,” Thompson said after practice Tuesday. “That’s above my pay grade. I don’t have any say in that, but I think he was playing well. I think he will continue to play well.”
Franks made his collegiate debut Saturday against Michigan, starting and completing 5-of-9 passes for 75 yards and a 16-yard scramble for a first down before being pulled in the third quarter after a fumble. He was replaced by graduate transfer Malik Zaire, who finished 9-of-17 passing for 106 yards while taking 5 sacks.
Franks will start again this week against Northern Colorado, but Florida coach Jim McElwain said he will evaluate the position again after the game.
McElwain was complimentary of Franks on Monday, and Thompson said he liked what he saw from the young quarterback in the huddle.
“He’s a quarterback. He acted like it,” he said.
Those weren’t Thompson’s only noteworthy opinions, though.
While the offensive line is second only to offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier in receiving the brunt of fans’ frustration following the 33-17 loss to the Wolverines, Thompson doesn’t feel that’s deserved.
Florida finished the game with just 11 net rushing yards on 27 attempts, including lost yardage from 6 sacks.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with the O-line,” he said. “They blocked their tails off. You know, like I said, everyone makes mistakes. I feel, though, in the running back group, me, myself as an individual, Mark Thompson, when I get the ball I’ll run hard enough to whatever I do I’ll make them right.”
With star running back Jordan Scarlett suspended, Thompson worked as the No. 2 back and finished with 13 yards on 5 carries. He also had a long touchdown run, in which he redirected to find an opening, called back by a holding penalty.
He was asked several times about the offensive line and reiterated his confidence in the maligned unit.
“Oh yeah. I love my O-line. I love them boys. I tell them that every day. They’re going to come out and work hard and we’re all just going to get better,” he said.
And looking ahead to this Saturday, Thompson has another suggestion for the coaches this week as they prepare their game plan.
“In my opinion, receivers are gonna hate me for this, but we need to run the ball more,” Thompson said. “You know, I feel that after the run I had that was called back, regardless of if it got called back or not, that’s momentum. The penalty is obviously going to take one back, but get right back and run the ball. I don’t think we had very much problem in running the ball. I just think we have to trust the running game and continue to do it. When something doesn’t work, you don’t just give up. You keep going until it works.”
McElwain said as of Monday the statuses of Scarlett and the Gators’ other eight suspended players had not changed, and neither Scarlett nor Antonio Callaway were seen at practice Tuesday.
So it looks like sophomore Lamical Perine, Thompson and freshman Malik Davis will continue to carry the load in the backfield for at least another week.
Thompson discussed adjusting to Scarlett’s absence.
“It’s unfortunate what happened, but coach Mac always tells us we have freedom of choice but not freedom of consequence, so that is what it is. I don’t want to talk about that anymore. I’m really close with him,” he said. “I don’t want to bash him or any of those guys that made that mistake, but as far as leadership goes, we have a lot of leaders on this team.”
Thompson also said he hoped the fans were still behind the team because he hasn’t lost confidence in the potential for this season.
“We’ve got a whole season. We’ve got 11 games,” he said. “No championship Gator team has ever gone undefeated. That’s where my head is at. I hope that where y’alls head is at.”
The post Gators RB Mark Thompson thinks QB Feleipe Franks should have finished Michigan game appeared first on SEC Country.
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