By Zach Abolverdi, Correspondent
An injury propelled Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes into the starting lineup Saturday, and he answered the bell in a big way.
He had a career day against the Seminoles, hauling in five passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in UF’s 41-14 win. His 22-yard score in the third quarter put the Gators up 27-7.
Grimes had his number called after the injury to starter Tyrie Cleveland, who broke his right collarbone in the first quarter. The Ohio State transfer stepped up in his absence.
“I think it was huge,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said of Grimes’ performance. “With Tyrie banged up … he had to go play a whole bunch of reps out there today. He had some one-on-one matchups and took advantage of them. He has good size, really good hands, and you see the player he can become for us.”
Grimes, a sophomore, is the first Florida receiver with a 100-yard game this season. Cleveland was the last player to hit that mark, logging 110 receiving yards last year against Kentucky.
Grimes has been more involved in the offense this month. After making 13 receptions for 147 yards through the first eight games, he has 12 catches for 219 yards in the last four weeks.
With Cleveland’s injury, Grimes will likely get more opportunities in the bowl game.
“He’s done a great job of being patient and just waiting his turn,” Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks said of Grimes. “I told him when you get your opportunity just take advantage of it, no matter when it is.
“You have to always be ready for your opportunity and take advantage of it. That’s what he did today. He had a couple of big catches and just turned them into big plays.”
Mullen undefeated vs. FSU
Florida’s first-year coach and former offensive coordinator is still perfect against the Seminoles. Mullen improved his FSU record to 5-0 on Saturday, adding to his four wins with the Gators from 2005-08.
The 27-point margin of victory is Florida’s third-largest ever in Tallahassee. Mullen’s last trip to FSU in 2008 was the biggest win (45-15).
With a 9-3 record, Mullen surpassed Ray Graves for the largest win improvement in school history for a first-year Florida coach. The Gators went 5-4-1 in 1959 under Bob Woodruff and then 9-2 in Graves. Beating the Seminoles made it even sweeter.
“It’s a great rivalry game, it always is,” Mullen said. “I remember watching it growing up a couple of times. I’ve been a part of it before. I’ve been in the box experiencing it for the most part. To be down there on the sidelines and to finish off getting a win over your rival in year one is huge.”
Gators end Florida State streaks
With the win Saturday, the Gators put an end to several FSU streaks.
Most importantly, UF finally got win against the Seminoles after five straight losses in the rivalry. Florida State finishes with a 5-7 record, ending a streak of 41 consecutive winning seasons. The program’s NCAA record of 36 straight bowl appearances is now over.
“We just took turns making mistakes,” FSU quarterback Deondre Francois said. “We played an undisciplined game as a team. We gave up big plays on defense and didn’t move the ball on offense.”
The loss to UF also snapped Florida State’s steak of 15 consecutive non-conference wins at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Kodak Black shows support
The Florida-FSU game attracted one of the nation’s top hip-hop recording artists, Kodak Black.
The Pompano Beach, Fla., native is an avid Gators fan and was on Florida’s sideline wearing a custom No. 1 jersey with his name on the back.
Mullen walked over and embraced the rapper before the game, and it wasn’t the first time they have communicated. The two spoke to each other on FaceTime earlier this fall, and the Gators named one of their trick plays “Kodak.”
They used it in their win at Mississippi State, with wide receiver Kadarius Toney throwing a touchdown to tight end Moral Stephens on a double pass. Several UF players celebrated with Kodak Black during the final moments Saturday.
“He enjoyed it,” Florida DB Chauncey-Gardner Johnson said. “Every little play that was made, he was excited, just like he was one of us. Happy to have him on the sideline. He’s welcome any time in our locker room, our facilities.
“He’s part of us. I told him I was going to give him the ball after we catch a pick. I told him, ‘I’m bringing it to you.’ When (Donovan) Stiner caught the pick, we ran the ball and gave it to him. He’s part of us, too.”