Gators get by on pure grit

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Kentucky linebacker DeAndre Square (17) tries to bring down Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) during the second half Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Lexington, Ky. [Timothy D. Easley/The Associated Press]

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Sometimes heroes are made of grit and moxie, of physical talent and a sharp mind.

Sometimes they are made of opportunity. And sometimes they are made of perseverance.

All of these apply to Florida’s newest hero today. He is Kyle Trask and if you had a bet that he would be the difference in another Florida win at Kentucky, you probably were working with pretty good odds.

The young man who told the transfer portal to get the heck out of his face and stayed at Florida when it didn’t seem like the cool thing to do had the game of his life on Saturday night.

It almost seems surreal to be sitting here in this press box again writing about how Florida again found a way to win a game again that Kentucky looked poised to win again.

Again being the operative word here.

The Wildcats forced Feleipe Franks into all kinds of mistakes and he struggled behind an offensive line that has neutralized Florida’s ground game. 

Eventually, he was knocked out of the game, carted off with an air cast on his right leg and done for the season. It was one piece of an emotional night and continued a brutal year for SEC East quarterbacks not named Jake Fromm.

For all of the haters out there, the guys in this team love Franks. After the game, lineman Brett Heggie Tweeted out “That one was for you 13.”

Franks in the locker room, his season in a cast, singing the fight song with his teammates after the game makes you want to take back all of those mean things you said about him. Right?

But with Franks down and out, here came Trask. You might have expected Emory Jones, but Florida was going to have to get back in this game by throwing the ball. 

And Trask was and is the guy. 

Jones, according to Mullen, will get opportunities as well. Certainly, the dynamic of this team has changed drastically and perhaps the expectations.

But it is still a team that is 3-0 and when you saw Josh Hammond on that jet sweep break it first for the first down and then to the house, you got up off the couch, didn’t you?

For much of the game, it looked like a combination of this year’s Miami game (with the mistakes) and last year’s Kentucky game (losing both of the lines of scrimmage).

But somehow, Florida again overcame those mistakes and found a way to win a game. At Kentucky. Again.

The Gators made enough dumb mistakes to lose two games, but Kentucky trumped them, especially getting a late targeting penalty that kept a drive alive. (There were three in a game that should have been sponsored by Target.)

“Putting laundry on the field to dictate a game, it’s tough,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. ‘What am I supposed to tell our guys. To get that call. That’s gotta change.”

Yeah, but …

You did miss a possible game-winning field goal wide right.

And you did go soft in the secondary to allow Trask to pick you apart.

But that’s a Kentucky problem. You want to talk about the Florida problem.

And there is a problem with all of the injuries.

“We need to get healthy,” Dan Mullen said. 

And there is a problem with this team’s inability to run block.

And there is a problem with dumb penalties, including the usual pass interference penalty late in the game.

Yeah, but (again) …

These guys have a way of winning games. And by these guys I mean this coaching staff which has now overcome double-digit deficits three times in these last two seasons to win games.

And it’s a staff that has yet to lose a true road game at Florida.

Some of it is difficult to explain. 

Seriously.

So much went so bad including the two awful Franks turnovers back when he was still able to walk. Or the missed Evan McPherson chip shot. And the two holding calls that negated a pair of Franks’ touchdown runs. 

Yeah, but …

17 COMMENTS

  1. I feel very badly for Feleipe Franks. Nobody likes to see one of these young men get hurt that way. However, Kyle Trask’s play in the 4th quarter was the key to the Gators pulling out this victory out of the jaws of certain defeat.

    I’m convinced this would have been a loss, just like last season, had Franks been able to finish the game, the way he was playing. He simply can’t carry this team with his passing and (as Pat makes clear above) our OL is incapable of run blocking at this time. That Kentucky OL is what the Gator OL wants to be when they “grow up.”

    The Gators only have a couple of more weeks to get acclimated to Trask at QB and to find a running game before they enter the decisive month of October in their schedule. Hopefully, Trask gets some luck and avoids the injury bug that has plagued his entire career to date.

    On the defensive side, maybe the Gator DBs will figure out how to cover receivers on 3rd and long without committing pass interference before October. Our front seven is pretty stout and David Reese is a beast! All of them need a break from any more injuries.

    GO GATORS!!!

  2. I feel really bad for Franks. But whether it was some “win one for the Gipper” spirit, Trask’s play, or some key losses in Kentucky’s secondary, Florida did seem to come alive on offense and defense in the 4th quarter. Nevertheless, we did not look anything like the 9th best team in the country. Meanwhile, I wonder whether UCF is that good or Stanford that bad. Maybe a bit of both.

  3. So many issues fro this team. Some can be corrected with more experience, some only through recruiting. There is a lot of youth on both sides of the ball and the injuries certainly don’t help. The team especially the offensive line and the entire secondary need to grow up quick or this will be a difficult season to swallow. They aren’t going to win every game by “finding a way to win”. I hope Franks heals up but it is up to Trask now and he at least doesn’t seem to get as rattled in the pocket. Go Gators!

    • It’s way too early to make predictions about the Trask era. Opposing coaches don’t have much film on him yet. However, there are some interesting extrapolations that can be made from his 4th quarter performance vs. the Cats.

      First, through 3 quarters, the Gator O under Franks was on pace for 55 to 60 total plays. That play total is consistent with the Gators’ play totals from their first 2 games this season. Trask ran off 24 offensive plays in the 4th quarter alone and would have run off at least 27, had Hammond not broken off that 76 YD TD run at the end. That extrapolates to over 100 plays for a whole game!

      Second, Franks had 174 YDS on 17 pass attempts through 3 quarters. That extrapolates to 232 YDS on 24 attempts for the whole game. Those totals are remarkably consistent with his performance in the first 2 games this season. Trask had 126 YDS on 13 pass attempts in the 4th quarter alone. That extrapolates to over 500 YDS on 52 pass attempts for a whole game! If THAT begins to play out, opposing Ds will have to take their safeties out of the box and THAT change will open up the Gator running game.

      Finally, the Gators scored 10 points through 3 quarters under Franks. They scored 19 points in the 4th quarter alone under Trask, which extrapolates to over 70 points for a whole game! Can you say Fun-and-Gun… again!!!

      Time will tell how things will really turn out as a result of this change at QB, but my only worry about Trask is his propensity to get himself injured. Here’s to hoping he’s already paid his dues in full on that account!

      GO GATORS!!

  4. First things first: Since when is anyone who clearly recognized that Felipe Franks was at best inconsistent at quarterback, and at worst limited, suddenly labeled a “hater”? That smacks to me of not only hyperbole but journalistic histrionics. I expect better than that for $60 per year and very few Gator colleagues to share posts with.

    • It’s the times we live in 6. PC trumps everything else in today’s media. I don’t recall Dooley shedding any tears for Terry Dean or Doug Johnson when fans screamed for their heads and SOS benched them on a whim for poor QB play. Why should Franks get a pass today?

      That said, the whole team gathering around Franks for a prayer, before he was carted off, spoke volumes for their loyalty to his leadership. That emotional display illustrated, at least for me, why CDM did not bench Franks for poor play this season.

      • All true, STL — and so too the words of Cody Alan and yourself in the past several weeks. I suspect Cody may have a word to say regarding Trask in the next day or so, once everything settles down again. The bright spot of course is what a whole lot of people knew all along — give Trask a chance and he will amaze you. Bad way to get that chance, of course. The sour spot now revealed for all to see? If the OL and defense don’t suddenly have a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment, we are going to be a one dimensional team for a long time this season.

  5. ”…you got up off the couch, didn’t you?” Yes I did, Pat! And my neighbors heard me too! This team needs to ”JUST WIN BABY!” And they are, so far. Heal up quickly, Franks! And last night Trask looked like he’s been starting for U.F. as long as Franks has, so I can dig it! And I am ”thinking out loud here,” but ‘IF’ Florida can pull off a sweep of the East, lose at LSU, but beat Auburn at home, then it’s ”THE ATL” for U.F.! And you have to DREAM BIG or don’t dream at all, Gators (and fans)! I know what this team looks like, but I also see Pat’s headline for this story and think, why not every game… ”Gators get by on pure grit.”

  6. I think Trask is better in two key areas. He gets rid of the ball just bit quicker than Franks and that really helps with the kind of line we have this year. Trask also seems to find more open receivers. On the flip side I don’t think Trask can match Franks running but that talent was being diminished by our poor line play. We need to take care of business vs. UT. They will be pumped up to play us. Then we can get healthy vs. Towson before our big game vs. Auburn.

    • Spot on Wadeless! On a pass completed to Hammond (I believe) CDM was quoted as saying that Trask went through “his progressions” and found the 3rd priority receiver in the pattern. When did we EVER hear CDM say THAT about Franks in ANY post-game interview?