Arkansas Razorback Football
By OTIS KIRK
Special to the Nate Allen Sports Service
FAYETTEVILLE — Feleiepe Franks is set for his first season at the University of Arkansas and likes the direction of the offense as the Sept. 26 opener grows nearer.
In Friday’s first scrimmage of the preseason Franks tossed four touchdown passes. On Monday, he reflected back on the scrimmage and his comfort level with the offense.
“I thought the scrimmage went really well on both sides of the ball, defensively and offensively,” Franks said. “Then I also thought there were things that we could work on on both sides of the ball. I thought it was a really productive scrimmage. Offensively we did a lot of good things. I thought we pushed the tempo really good, a lot of things to help us out offensively that Coach (Kendal) Briles emphasizes that we did really well. Then defensively, those guys fought. With that kind of tempo it’s hard, if you’re not in shape or one of those things. Not saying that they’re not. But we were going play after play and it gets hard. So they did a really good job. I thought it was a good competition day on both sides of the ball.
“Comfort level, I feel like it’s getting better. It’s a new system but I think at the same time the whole offense is getting better day by day.”
The Hogs are starting week three of preseason camp. He critiqued his own performance and more at this time.
“It’s going well,” Franks said. “Me personally, I think I’m a little over critical sometimes, not only of myself, but of just perfection within a play. But I think we’re doing really good. We’re taking steps. We’re stacking good practices on top of good practices. I think that’s all that matters right now. Like you said, how the execution is going, that’s what we need to be focused on right now. Can we execute every play at a high level? And right now I think that we’re getting better and better each day. We’re at the start of week 3 and I think that we’re just continuing. We’re better than week 2. Today’s practice was better than than the start of week 2. So I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Franks’ final season at Florida in 2019 was cut short with an ankle injured suffered against Kentucky. He was asked if he would be thinking about that injury heading into the season opener?
“I don’t have to necessarily to disagree, but I think my confidence is through the roof right now,” Franks said. “We had a scrimmage this past Friday and I felt wonderful, 100%. I talked it personally every rep to treat if like a game rep. So to say that when game time comes, that’s going to be my first game rep, I think that would be far from it. That’s not just me, but everybody on our offense, taking reps as if we’re in the game. So when Saturdays come, they come easy. I feel really good. I feel healthy, I feel awesome. I’m ready to go out there and compete again. Ready to play some football again.
In Franks’ first game he will face a team he faced often at Florida when Georgia comes to Fayetteville. Arkansas will play a 10-game all-SEC schedule this fall.
“Yeah, I think it’s awesome,” Franks said. “I think the 10-game SEC schedule is awesome. I love the competition, me personally. These guys here, they love competition. So I think it’s a chance for Arkansas to get their name out there. Not necessarily get it out there but you know come out to get some wins vs. SEC opponents.
“Yeah, yeah. It’ll be exciting. But at the same it’s the first game of the season, so I think that’s more exciting than it being at the same time with Georgia, which is good as well. Our team is going to be ready. I think we’re slowly implementing things for Georgia, but at the same time our main focus is learning our offense, the ins and outs of it. Having the production with that before we start doing too much other. But I think we’re implementing it at a good pace right now. And these guys are really motivated and really excited for our first game. I think we should have fun.”The Hogs are starting week three of preseason camp.
Franks played high school football at Crawfordsville (Fla.) Wakulla. So he didn’t have to travel far to Gainesville. At Arkansas, Franks is out of The Sunshine State for the first time. How has the adjustment been?
“It’s been a different change,” Franks said. “I’ve never had to move before except for when I was in high school. Coming out here, it wasn’t that bad. Arkansas, I’ve gotten nothing but a warm welcome everywhere I’ve went. It’s been awesome. I love it out here. I’ve got a little apartment here. When I drove up, I actually got it as I was driving to Arkansas. When I was driving here, I didn’t have a place.
“It’s been really good. I’ve gotten adjusted really well, and the people have treated me so, so great. Everything here from the support staff to the academics to the coaches and the players, I’ve just received so much support from everybody in the football building and everywhere else. It’s been awesome.”
Franks also likes the weapons he has with him on offense this season.
“You know what, what I thought, I really didn’t, I don’t want to say that I had expectation here or expectation there when I came to Arkansas,” Franks said. ” knew I wanted to play football at a high level. I know Arkansas is a good team, they come from a great state with great people and to me that’s what I was looking for first and fore[most]. Not necessarily all the way, but that’s what I was looking for first.
“When I came here and then you had those guys like Rakeem Boyd, Treylon Burks, and there’s so many on the offensive line, tight end, defensively. We’re at an SEC school, you know. You’re going to have those guys. They’re meant to be here at Arkansas, meant to play good football in the SEC. I’m excited to watch them play because one of my favorite things to do is just get the ball out of my hands and watch those guys do their thing. I’m excited to watch them play, all of them, and I think it’s going to be a fun ride, so I’m excited for it.”
He will get a chance to head back to Gainesville on Saturday, Nov. 14, when the Hogs take on the Gators. Any special feelings about that game?
“I think it’s another opportunity,” Franks said. “I think it’s a great opportunity. Me, personally, I have nothing but love for Florida, and then now I’m here at Arkansas. And my main focus and my main goal is to help Arkansas football win. And I’ll be excited when I go down there. I have great relationships, lifelong relationships that I’ve made at Florida, whether it be the football team, coaches. And so, I’ll be excited when I go back, but at the end of the day I play for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and I’ll be ready to compete at a high level. I’ll be prepared, and so will our team. And that’s not just for Florida but that’s for every game. That goes for our first game of the season, Georgia, and throughout the whole thing. I know our players will be excited, and I know they’ll be excited for every one of them.”
In a couple of notes from the open portion of practice, defensive lineman Xavier Kelly wasn’t spotted. Brad Davis did return to coach the offensive line after missing last week due to an undisclosed reason. Franks feels the offensive line is coming on.
“The offensive line, I think, in my opinion, they’ve done a tremendous job of – let’s see how I can say this – they’ve done a wonderful job of just translating everything they’ve learned from the film room and they’ve had to learn a lot, with it being a new offense and also playing O-line, that’s not the easiest position to play at all,” Franks said. “They go out there every day and they work their tails off, not only physically but mentally, whether it be in the film room or when they translate it out there to the field.
“I think Coach Davis, Coach Pittman, all of those guys they’re surrounded by have done a tremendous job with those guys. You see nothing but resilience and you see nothing but fight and the willingness to learn with those guys. I think that’s awesome. They’ve done a really good job, playing really good. They did an awesome job in the scrimmage, protecting me, giving me time to throw the ball down the field and giving those guys time to get open. I think our O-line is one of the, I wouldn’t say most improved, but one of the most hardest working groups on the team, in my opinion.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Tuesday.
Photos courtesy of Craven Whitlow, CW3, Sports Action