FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas hasn’t won a home SEC game since Nov. 5, 2016, when they beat Florida 31-10.
On that Florida team was a four-star quarterback who was redshirting as a true freshman. Feleipe Franks stood and watched the Hogs dismantle the No. 11 Gators.
“I made that trip,” Franks said. “I was here. The stadium looked a little different, but I was here. I do remember exactly what game. I remember like it was yesterday actually coming in here and playing. But more importantly, I think it’s about week in and week out we’re going out there to win and not prove anything. We’re just wanting to win. That’s my main goal. That’s our team’s main goal is that after each Saturday to have a W behind the Arkansas team’s name. That’s important that we’re doing everything possible throughout the week to make that happen.
“So, just to answer your question, you know it’s important to us to get a win. And it’s just week in and week out, no matter who we’re playing: Alabama, Ole Miss, week in and week out we have SEC games and they’re all good. It’s just important that we grind week in and week out to get those wins. There’s nothing else that’s more important, no one that’s more bigger than the team, just getting a win. That’s really pretty much it. That’s what we’re focused on week in and week out.”
On Saturday when Ole Miss rolls into Reynolds Razorback Stadium Franks will be trying to help the Razorbacks break that streak. Considering Ole Miss puts up points on offense much like a video game it will be important for Arkansas not to start slowly.
“I think it’s starts with starting fast,” Franks said. “We have to do a better job of starting fast in practice. We have to do a better job of starting fast in everything that we do, and I think that’s a straight translation from practice to the game. Not necessarily saying we’ve had bad practices, but we started a little slow offensively and then the next thing you know we start slow on Saturdays sometimes.
“So, I think it’s just starts on Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesday practices, those days, Thursday, get things cleaned up, that period of time. Starting fast, being smooth on offense, that when Saturday comes, it’s just repetition and routine from starting fast. So, if we can do a better job of that as an offense, then that will help us out a lot.”
Arkansas fell behind Auburn 17-0 last Saturday, but then rallied to take a late 28-27 lead. But with Ole Miss’ offense is there pressure to score early and often this week?
“I wouldn’t say it’s pressure,” Franks said. “It’s just we go out there and do our job. Do our assignment I think that’s most important. I wouldn’t say that we go out there with the pressure on our back to go prove somebody wrong you know what I mean.
“I think that it’s just doing what we were coached to do and I think that on Saturdays that will show you know on Tuesday, Wednesday those days where it matters and it’s hot outside and we’re practicing and nobody is watching. Those days are important. And then Saturday it’s just second nature. So we have to have a really good week of practice. Like I said before Ole Miss has a really good team offensively and defensively in my opinion. You know it’s an SEC opponent just like it is week in and week out. You can’t take nobody lightly. You have to prepare and then go out there and play a top team week in and week out and that’s important to have that mindset. Like I said we’re excited to go out there and have another opportunity as an offense to go out there and get better.”
Franks is a grad transfer with the Hogs this year. He is off to a very fast start. Franks has completed 61 of 94 passes for 730 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has rushed 28 times for 49 yards. He is quick to credit his teammates for his success at quarterback.
“Yeah, I think I can attribute it to a lot,” Franks said. “It’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes than just be going out there and throwing the ball. You know Coach (Kendal) Briles, some of the other guys. All of those guys just get me prepared throughout the week. They make things simple. That helps me out a lot.
“And then at the same time it’s just me being able to push myself with KJ (Jefferson), the other quarterbacks Jack (Lindsey), John Stephen (Jones), Braden (Bratcher), Cade (Pearson), the whole quarterback room, Malik (Hornsby). All of those guys push me to be the best quarterback I can be throughout the week as well. Coach Briles does a great job of coaching me up and helping me to become the best player I can become and it shows or I try and help it shows on Saturdays as a reflection of him and our team and how hard we work. There is a lot more that goes on than me so I’m appreciative of those guys helping me out. But yeah it was good. It was fun on Saturday to get those kind of stats. It was the first time so that was cool.”
One of his favorite receivers has been De’Vion Warren who has caught 10 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns.
“Yeah I thought De’Vion has been doing really good not just in the games,” Franks said. “In the games that shows for itself. I’m talking throughout practice because I think that’s important for how you perform on Saturdays. He does a great job of running his routes full speed. That helps me out timing wise in practice. He’s a great player. I think he’s underrated. Super shifty And he just knows where to be at the right time and I think it shows on Saturdays how hard he works throughout the week.”
By all accounts, it appears Franks and the Hogs will have both Rakeem Boyd and Trelon Smith available at running back this week. Boyd missed some of the Mississippi State and all of Auburn game with an injury.
“Those two guys are really good playmakers, Rakeem and Trelon,” Franks said. “Those guys in the past have done a great job for this offense and this season have done a great job already just the time we’ve had with this offense. It’s going to be important that we get those guys continue to get healthy. But at the same time, we’ve guys as well that work their tails off and when their name is called, just like the situation, when his name is called, step in and perform at a high level, and that’s important to have on our team. We have a group of guys that are super motivated. So, it’s going to be important getting those guys back, and they’re in the rehab room every day, morning, evening. So, they’re working really hard to get back. So, hopefully, we get those guys back.”
Arkansas and Ole Miss will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. It’s homecoming for the Razorbacks. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.