The Back Nine: Trask’s personality fits his role on Gators

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Florida coach Dan Mullen greets quarterback Kyle Trask at the end of Gator Walk in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium earlier this season. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that was so good it makes me worried about what the next week will hold. I mean, I’m due. Or maybe just on a roll.

10. Football seasons fly past really quickly and sometimes you have to just put the brakes on and think about what is happening this season with Kyle Trask. Before the season, he didn’t even know if he was the backup. This was Feleipe Franks’ team and Emory Jones was the future. Trask was an afterthought when we were in Hoover, Ala., for SEC Media Days. And now he just spent a week where he was featured on HBO and ESPN’s College GameDay, led his team to an enormous win and also had a moment he thought his season was over. Really, can I have the script rights? “It’s pretty surreal from what I have been accustomed to,” Trask said. “I just have to stay focused on my job and stay locked in. I have to try not to get all caught up in the noise.” The thing is that Trask seems to have the personality to do exactly that. He doesn’t get too emotional, which is exactly what this team needs with so much going on around the Gators. “This is what we dream about, playing big games like this,” Trask said.

11. Anyone with a set of eyes knows how well Florida played defensively against Auburn. You know how I feel about points per game allowed and it being the most important defensive stat there is and UF is fifth in the nation. When you have the lead at the half and allow zero points in the second half, that usually translates well. Here’s a stat that a reader pointed out and I looked it up to make sure it was right — Florida’s defense committed no penalties in the game (the offense had five and special teams one). When you play that kind of defense and are disciplined, that’s pretty amazing. “It’s huge. It just showed you how clean we played,” Mullen said. “You want to be out there (on defense) the least number of plays possible. The discipline showed in our guys.” (Except that there were only 10 men on the field on the amazing Shawn Davis interception. But I digress.) The Gators lead the nation in interceptions and red zone defense. And here’s another stat — Florida has 16 plays of 30 or more yards and has only allowed six. Both of those numbers have Florida in the top 20 nationally.

12. And then there is this one that was pointed out by SEC Network’s Brandon Zimmerman (and I’m not quoting him just because we hosted his lovely wife for the weekend) — in the 19 games that Dan Mullen has coached at Florida, nine of them have been one-score games at some point in the fourth quarter. In those games, Florida is 7-2. When it comes to finding a way to win games, it’s obvious Mullen has a knack. He loses a quarterback again and Emory Jones comes in and drives the team to a field goal. Instead of playing it safe with a lead, he tried to get more points. That’s your coach, Florida fans, a guy who is not afraid to take risks like the throwback play late to get a huge first down.

13. One thing about a Florida-Auburn game is the hatred isn’t there in part because they almost never play. (I know there was some chippiness before the game but that was limited). Back in the Terry Bowden-Steve Spurrier days it was pretty intense, but on Saturday it was simply a big game. And I have a whole new respect for Marlon Davidson, who rolled over on Kyle Trask’s left knee and caused him to leave the game. I don’t think it was dirty because he was blocked into Trask by Stone Forsythe. Mullen obviously was hot at the half when he referred to dirty plays during his halftime interview. “The use of that word, maybe it wasn’t the right word,” Mullen said Monday. “When you look at player safety, we preach it but what are we going to do about it? On Sunday (NFL games), they would have been called.” Davidson sought out Trask to apologize after the game and said this to the media: “I felt really bad for Trask. I really do. It hurt me. I was kind of out of it for a minute.” Color Trask impressed. “I really respected that,” he said. “It says a lot about his character to come up and apologize.”

14. OK, so maybe my newfound way of ranking teams based on what they have done this year is getting out of hand because I have Florida’s opponent at No. 1 for the second week in a row. I just think LSU has been the most consistently good team this year and the win at Texas puts the Tigers over the top. Certainly, you can find fault with anyone’s order on the top six because those six teams look like the pool of teams that can win it all. But what happens if Florida wins this week? Asking for a friend. I had the Gators seventh, dropped UCF completely and for the 35th week in a row of voting really struggle with the last five teams. Here they are — 21. Memphis; 22. Virginia; 23. SMU; 24. Appalachian State; 25. Minnesota. Send all complaints to Matt Baker’s email address. Just for fun.

15. Lost in all of the football hoopla of the weekend was another impressive win for Becky Burleigh’s soccer team, as the Gators handled No. 12 Texas A&M 3-1. That’s 4-0 in the SEC, six wins in a row after a shaky start (against a touch schedule) and two wins in a row over top-15 teams. After a road game at Ole Miss, the ladies are home again Sunday for a 1 p.m. game at the Diz against Kentucky.

16. You saw history if you watched the Houston-Atlanta NFL game Sunday. There had been 1,050 different scores of games in the history of the league. But never a 53-32 game. Houston won and Atlanta’s defense looked like it had never heard of the forward pass. That’s not good for former UF assistant coach Dan Quinn, but the Falcons seem to be sticking with him even though we are officially in firing season (ask Jay Gruden). By the way, no coach hired by Redskins owner Dan Snyder has ever finished over .500 for his career. To paraphrase Clarice Starling in “Silence of the Lambs”, “Are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself, Mr. Snyder? Why don’t you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you’re afraid to.”

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Dan Hellie of the NFL Network — “My 12 year old son just asked me if Tennessee has ever had a good football team. I’ve made the poor kid root for the Vols and Redskins his entire life. Pretty sure I have failed as a father.” It’s not too late to change.

18. I have most of my hearing back after spending 3½ hours in The Swamp listening to all of you screaming like your hair was on fire. So I put together this playlist while everyone at my house was watching Florida-Auburn again:

• “Some Day Soon” by Alexi Murdoch.

• “The End of the Game” by Weezer.

• “The Story” by Brandi Carlile.

“To The Ground” by Death Cab for Cutie.

• And for an old one, I don’t think I’ve used this before but if I have I apologize, but it popped up on a playlist so I’m going with it, “April Come She Will” by Simon and Garfunkel.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I was inclined to sell the contention that LSU is number one. The QB is impressive, and yes, they beat Texas. The other four wins? Georgia Southern, Northwestern State, Vanderbilt and Utah State. They’ve been consistently good, but consistently good against a schedule that is so soft it would embarrass the My Pillow guy. That said, looking at the schedules of the other top teams, they’ve all had it fairly easy so far. The beauty of October is, along with cooler weather, Oktoberfest and the designation of National Chili Month (look it up, people), it also brings a great amount (if not perfect) clarity to who’s who in the world’s greatest sport. So IF the Gators beat LSU, hell yeah they should be number one. That would constitute an unsurpassed body of work. If they lose, they still control their destiny, and for the first time in several years, I like our chances against them Dawgs. Go Gators!