It always happens in big games and this is a big game today, according to sources related to me. It’s just shy of ginormous, twice as big and thick as a normal SEC game and the kind of game that stays with you for longer than a week.
And when it is a big game, the focus automatically goes to the quarterbacks. They always receive too much blame and too much credit according to some, not enough of either if you ask some others and it usually depends on which side they were rooting for or bet against.
The two candidates bring such diverse backgrounds in terms of their journeys, but it is worth noting that they both got their first college starts because of injuries.
They will go at it today, Florida’s Kyle Trask and Georgia’s Jake Fromm, with different resumes and different levels of confidence.
Not to say either one believes today will not go well. Trask is just more subtle about it.
Trask is the guy who, to paraphrase ancient manager Joe Schultz in “Ball Four”, wouldn’t say crap if he had a mouthful. We keep hearing about his fiery nature on the field, but he only shows it to those in his locker room and huddles.
There is a confidence about him that is much more tangible than that of someone who found a $20 bill on the sidewalk. He believes he was destined for this opportunity and isn’t going to back down from the glare of any stage lights, no matter how bright.
“I feel like I have done a great job,” he said this week. “All the credit goes to the coaches, coach (Dan) Mullen and his staff, for just progressing along with me and making sure I am ready to go out there no matter what the stage is.”
Trask has grown and there is no reason to think he’s not ready for the next challenge. He has faced the angry LSU crowd, won in the rain in Columbia and engineered two fourth-quarter comebacks on the road.
Mullen talked Wednesday on the SEC conference call about the thing that makes Trask so capable — his preparation no matter how big or small the task.
That’s a trait you need, no, MUST HAVE in a quarterback in the SEC and assorted other Power 5 conferences.
But you also need to have that thing that they don’t prepare you for — the ability to shut off the noise of a game.
“Obviously, this game’s going to be a big environment,” Trask said. “So, I’ve obviously been in big environments before after playing games like (LSU and Auburn). I think that’ll just give me that extra confidence going into a week like this.”
I think the smartest thing I heard from Trask this week is that he knows better than those glass-is-overflowing Gators who think they are going to roll up and down the field against the SEC’s top defense.
“I think they’re very disciplined,” he said. “They don’t give up a lot of free plays on busted coverages or anything like that. I think they play very smart, and they’re well-coached.”
Exactly. Fans can point to a schedule that hasn’t included an opponent with anything special offensively, but remember that’s what was said about LSU having to face the Florida defense.
But I digress.
We’re talking quarterbacks and the one at Georgia has been in the brightest of spotlights. And the confidence he’s dripping with coming into this game is much louder than Trask’s.
“I’m ready to go out and show what I’ve been working on, show what this team has been working on and ready to play football and play at a high level,” Fromm told The Athletic. “We’re going to do it better. We’re just going to be more effective at doing it, so I know exactly what you kind of want it to look like or not want it to look like.”
That might make Gator fans nervous and it should. It’s not like Georgia has been bad offensively, it’s just that it has been underwhelming. There was one bad game against South Carolina and one rain game against Kentucky.
The more recent the game, the more difficult it is to cleanse your palate.
But Georgia is certainly capable. So is Florida. So are both quarterbacks.
Florida’s may be asked to do more than Georgia’s because Fromm has an elite running game in his backfield.
Of course, Florida has Mullen.
Get back to me when it’s over.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.