FAYETTEVILLE — Feleipe Franks continues to shine at quarterback for Arkansas as he helped them to a 24-13 victory over Tennessee Saturday night in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Razorbacks trailed 13-0 at halftime, but came out and put 24 points on the scoreboard in the third quarter. What was the difference between the first half and third quarter?
“We just knew that we had to come out the second half and start fast,” Franks said. “Obviously, we had a slow first half. We got that communicated at halftime. The players knew that we had to do better. Coming out in the third quarter we had a fast start and got some momentum and ran with it. It was a good quarter. The third quarter.”
Against Tennessee, Franks was 18 of 24 for 215 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a big 24-yard run to keep on drive going. Franks had a big 59-yard touchdown pass to Treylon Burks. Franks fought off a big rush by the Vols to find Burks deep for the touchdown.
“On the pass to Burks, it was kind of a broken down play,” Franks said. “He did a great job of working with me. We do those type of things like scramble rules and you never know when you’ll need it until you need it. Burks did a great job of redirecting with me, going back out and I tried to get him the ball and he made a great play. Good catch and finish.”
Franks is now 3-0 against the Volunteers having beaten them twice at Florida as well.
“I try to individualize games, but not for certain teams,” Franks said. “It’s always been fun playing Tennessee. I think they’re a good team. I think they’re well coached. Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt does a great job.
“Our guys, we just came out and fought today. We had a really good game plan and had to execute it better in the second half. At the end of the day, it’s another team on our board. Tennessee has a great team. They played their tails off tonight as well. It was a good win by us.”‘
Sam Pittman was pleased to see Franks get his third win against Tennessee.
“Well we count on Feleipe,” Pittman said. “He’s our guy. And I’m glad he has done well against Tennessee. He’s a tough guy and did some things with his legs again. He made some key runs. I think a couple of them, at least one, was on third down and he ran down the middle of the field. He was banged up and played. He’s our leader. He’s our bellcow or however you want to say it. He had another really good ballgame and took care of the football. He had the one fumble, but we recovered it.”
On the season Franks has completed 123 of 183 passes for 1,428 yards and 14 touchdowns with only three interceptions. In the last two games, he has thrown six touchdown passes with no interceptions.
“To be honest, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t paid attention to it,” Franks said. “But it’s not something that’s my main focus. My main focus is just spreading the ball around to the guys, and they make plays for me. I’d be selfish if I took any credit for that. The O-line, those receivers have done a great job in wet games, windy games. Always bringing their A game, and the O-line always bringing their A game.
“I’d be selfish if I was taking any kind of credit for that. Just being at the University of Arkansas has been a blessing for me. These guys have had my back every game making plays for me. That’s all I could ask for.”
After struggling earlier in the season to run the football, Arkansas rushed for 198 yards against Tennessee after also being very productive on the ground against Texas A&M. Against the Vols, Trelon Smith had 72 yards on nine attempts. Rakeem Boyd rushed 19 times for 65 yards.
“We’re getting better. We’re getting better in all phases on offense – in the rushing game, passing game. I thought the running back ran extremely hard today, picking up those hard-earned yards. They did a good job and it helped me, as well. Opened up the passing game. Those guys did a great job and a lot of credit to the O-line for creating those games and those guys will tell you, those gaps, they were opening them up for those guys to go down and hit it. They did a good job getting downhill and getting yards, so really good kudos to the O-line and the running back group for getting those yards.”
After a slow start on Saturday night, the Arkansas defense dominated the Vols in the second half.
“Absolutely,” Franks said. “We talk about it week in, week out, just everybody having each other’s back – offense having the defense’s back and vice versa as well. They do a great job of always coming through. Coach (Barry) Odom obviously does a wonderful job with those guys. They came out here and played hard. They played like they do every day throughout practice every day on Saturdays. They came out here and played hard and executed, especially in the second half. It was great. It was fun to watch those guys come up in clutch moments to help us get that win there at the end, as well. Defense did a really good job tonight.”
Franks and the Hogs will travel to Gainesville to face his former team on Saturday night. Florida is coming off a big win over Georgia. Franks talked about going to play the team he spent four seasons with.
“For the Florida game, man, it’s going to be kind of just crazy,” Franks said. “Not necessarily emotional for me, but I love all those guys on the staff and the players. It’ll just be fun to get back out there to play again in the Swamp. These guys here are ready and excited to play. Florida’s a really good team, as you guys can tell. It’ll be a really good opportunity for all these guys to go out there and showcase their talent again. We’ll work extremely hard throughout this week and just for me, it’ll be a blessing, another opportunity, but I love all those guys on the staff, the players. I still communicate with those guys. It’ll be a fun game. I’m looking forward to it.”
Pittman is impressed with how well that Franks throws the deep ball.
“He throws the deep ball well,” Pittman said. “He really does. He throws it with the right amount of speed. He can lob it. He can drill one and he’s got incredible strength with his arm. That’s what he does well. He’ll throw that little slant route well too. He’s really good at throwing the deep ball and he showed it again today.”
Franks and the Hogs will face the Gators on Saturday night at 6 p.m. Central with the game televised on ESPN.