FAYETTEVILLE — Grad transfer Feleipe Franks will start his first game at the University of Arkansas on Saturday against Georgia.
The Bulldogs are ranked No. 4 in the nation and have been installed as 24-point favorites. While many are projecting a blowout, don’t count Franks among them even facing a defense many consider best in the nation.
“In a broad aspect because I’m not there and I don’t know what kind of players they’re bringing in year in and year out,” Franks said. “From the outside looking in it seems every year in and year out they have players on the field and ones that are right behind them. Great players that come right behind them.
“But like I said before we have great players as well. So just kind of expanding on that just going out there we know it’s gonna be a physical game. They are gonna come out there ready to play and so are we. That’s kind of what you get when you play SEC Football. It’s not a big secret they have a tough, physical team but we have a tough, physical team as well and ready to go out there and compete.”
Franks enrolled at Arkansas in January, but despite being in Fayetteville less than a year he’s one of the four captains for the squad. That’s an honor that means a lot to Franks.
“Yeah, I was definitely touched by it,” Franks said. “It’s an honor. It’s a big deal for them guys to think of me like that in a short period of time. I’m nothing but grateful like I told them guys. I’m touched by it and it’s awesome. An awesome opportunity for me and the other captains to lead the team and for us to be able to be those guys that help us when things difficult, which they will throughout our season, to be able to turn to those kind of guys the captains that they named. I’m grateful for that and definitely touched by it.”
Having been at Florida has allowed Franks to be pretty familiar with Georgia and what they do on defense.
“The last couple of times I’ve played them Kirby (Smart) and all them always does a great job,” Franks said. “Those guys are tough, physical anything that you would imagine an SEC team to be. Those guys they have really good players. But at the same we have good players as well. It’s gonna be a hard-fought battle. We just need to be out there and be able to execute our game plan and what we’ve installed and things like that makes you go out there and be successful. Definitely they’ve got a good defense and good overall team as well.”
Franks is in Kendal Briles’ system this season. Franks was asked about the points of emphasis Briles has instilled in the offense not just this week, but for the season?
“I think he has made it a really big point to the whole offense and not just the quarterbacks that protecting the ball I would say on anybody’s checklist as an offense in the country is No. 1 and the second is just execute our game plan,” Franks said. “Nobody doing too much or nobody doing too less. Don’t have to do all these special things just play within the system and make plays. All the quarterbacks we’ve got playmakers around us to go make those plays. It will be awesome to get out there and see in a game setting what those guys can do. I’m excited to watch them play. We’ve got guys on the perimeter that go out there and make plays. It will be exciting.”
Regardless of how the game starts, Franks feels it will be important to establish running back Rakeem Boyd and the running game.
“I think establishing the run game is important in the game of football in general,” Franks said. “This coming up Saturday we’ve got to establish the run game and I think our guys up front are ready for that and ready for the challenge. They’ve practiced and Coach (Brad) Davis has done a great job of getting those guys ready as well as Coach (Sam) Pittman. I have full confidence in those guys and I’m sure Rakeem, I know he does, has full confidence in those guys. So do the receivers to give those guys time up front to pass the ball, run the ball and create open gaps. Coach Davis has done a great job with those guys getting them prepared and ready for the game this Saturday.”
As far as the mindset going into the game, Franks had a simple response to a question from a reporter.
“The mindset is to win,” Franks said. “If it is anything other than that something is wrong. To me, when I go out there and think of fun winning is fun. I think going out there and winning is fun. Our mindset is approaching it like any other game we’re going out there to win. We’re not looking at as a 10-game SEC schedule and things like that. That’s not our mindset going into this season and that’s not our mindset going into this first game. Our mindset is to go out there and execute our game plan like I said. Go out there and at the end of the day and get a win. Do anything possible to get that win. That’s our main focus right now and our main goal.”
Arkansas and Georgia will kickoff at 3 p.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.