HOGS run well with Franks at QB

HOGS run well with Franks at QB

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FAYETTEVILLE - A mobile quarterback always adorns Sam Pittman’s wish list.

Turns out Arkansas' first-year head coach secured one this season even if strong-armed Feleipe Franks, via Florida as a graduate transfer, wasn't considered a running QB.

Franks gained 91 yards on 16 carries during Saturday’s 42-31 loss at now seventh-ranked Texas A&M.

The Razorbacks (2-3), who practiced in pads today, play host to Tennessee (2-3) at 6:30 Saturday night on the SEC Network. 

Franks has completed 105 of 159 passes for 1,213 yards and 11 touchdowns with three interceptions, and his running ability has not surprised Pittman.

“We knew he could run when we recruited him," Pittman said. "We had a lot of film from Florida. We just started using the quarterback a little more in the run game last week.”

Pittman explained why.

“We needed to,” Pittman said. “We needed to even up the numbers a little better in the box. We knew he was a tough kid and a very adequate runner. And he likes to run. He’s tough. And so we added few plays for him last week.”

Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt noted Wednesday it wasn’t just the designed runs for Franks that were effective against Texas A&M but pass plays when either the protection broke down or nobody got open.

“They probably got lots of yardage on Feleipe just scrambling,” Pruitt said. “He probably scrambled for 50 yards. They've really done a nice job up front. Their wide receivers have blocked well on the perimeter.”

As Alabama’s defensive coordinator in 2017 and Tennessee’s head coach since 2018, Pruitt has twice game-planned against Franks when he quarterbacked the Gators.

“I thought he played well at Florida,” Pruitt said. “Two years in a row there, they won 10 games. I know he got hurt last year, but he's come back, and you can tell he's got experience and making a lot of plays for them." 

Actually, Pruitt knew about Franks long before Franks was a Gator.

“Feleipe is a guy I am very familiar with,” Pruitt said. “I started recruiting him when I coached at Florida State, and he was in the eighth or ninth grade. Very talented, multi-sport guy. Really a big man and a really good athlete. He has as strong an arm as anybody in our conference.”

Pittman said Franks impacted the Razorbacks immediately upon transferring in January and through the coronavirus disruption that shut down team workouts from mid-March into June.

“He was elected as a captain when he came in during a covid situation and no spring ball,” Pittman said. “So there tells you that his leadership skills have been outstanding. I  think more than anything it’s just been his leadership skills and the way the team looks at him and the way he runs the offensive side of the football team, and he’s affected the defensive side. So we’ve been really fortunate he elected to transfer to Arkansas.”

Franks isn’t the only Razorback Pruitt tried to recruit. At Tennessee he sought Franks’ favorite target, sophomore receiver Treylon Burks of Warren.

Burks caught 29 passes for 475 yards in 11 games as a 2018 true freshman. This year in four games, missing one with injury, Burks from Franks already has caught 26 balls for 366 years and four TDs.

“I remember recruiting him out of high school and thought he had a chance to be a really good player on either side of the ball,” Pruitt said. “I think he’s one of the best players in the conference. I see him improving every week.  He’s a mismatch guy. Probably 230 pounds and runs like a guy who probably is a 4.4 guy. I think he has a chance to be a really, really good football player as years go by.”

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