ATHENS — The last time SEC fans saw Feleipe Franks he was being carted off the field at Kentucky’s Kroger Stadium in tears, having suffered a dislocated and fractured ankle in what proved to be his final game in a Florida football uniform.
Franks’ road to recovery detoured him to Arkansas, where he’ll start for the Razorbacks and serve as one of four game captains for the 4 p.m. game against No. 4 Georgia in both team’s season opener.
“Our mindset is to execute our game plan and go out there at the end of the day and get a win, and do anything possible to get that win,” Franks said on an Arkansas Zoom call this week.
“It’s not a big secret they have a tough, physical team, but we have a tough physical team as well, and we’re ready to go out there and compete.”
First-year Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman certainly knows what the Georgia roster looks like having spent four years as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.
But it’s Franks, more so than anyone else in the stadium, who knows what the Georgia defense feels like having faced two of Coach Kirby Smart’s better units in 2017 and 2018.
In Franks’ first appearance against the Bulldogs he was 7-of-19 passing for 30 yards with an interception and was sacked five times in a 42-7 loss.
Franks was more efficient in Dan Mullen’s offense in 2018, completing 13 of 21 for 105 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 36-17 loss.
“The last couple of times I played them, Kirby did a great job,” Franks said. “Those guys are tough, physical, anything you would imagine an SEC team to be.”
Arkansas tailback Rakeem Boyd, who started his career at Texas A&M before a stint at Independence (Kans.) Junior College, is eager for the Razorbacks’ offense to challenge Georgia.
“We’re just trying to go out there and play physical ball, the whole time, first, second, third to fourth (quarter), just smash mouth football,” Boyd said this week.
“That’s what we’re trying to do, and that’s kind of what we want to be known as, that’s what we want our identity to be, is a physical football team that’s going to come and smash you in the mouth.”
Georgia brings back eight of 11 starters off a defense that led the nation in scoring defense and run defense, and ranked third in total defense.
“They’re defensively sound, so we’re going to have to come with it,” Boyd said. “We know what to expect, we know how we’ve got to play.
“I’ve been watching film on No. 32 (Rice). He’s the captain of the defense, controls what’s going on, they’re a team that really communicates … 17 (Nakobe Dean) has just come in the mix, he’s good, too. He’s pretty physical.”
First-year Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is known for his uptempo, spread passing schemes. Many are expect the Hogs to space out the Bulldogs and get the ball out quickly.
“It will be awesome to see what those guys can do, we have guys on the perimeter that can make plays,” Franks said.
““I don’t think our whole game plan has to do with getting the ball out quick and pre-conceived reads, we have a bunch of different mixes.”
Smart said the Bulldogs have to be ready for Arkansas to come at his defense quick.
“What has Coach Briles done in his history?’ He’s run a lot of plays,” Smart said. “He’s running really fast. He’s not going to sit there and let us get our cleats dug in the ground and play defense. H
“He’s going to make us play left-handed, and our job is to try and not let that happen.”
No one understands that better than Franks.
Georgia football preseason