As he walked in the tunnel area, Florida receiver Freddie Swain held a camera up on an elaborate selfie stick and began taking in the scene. This would be his last Florida-Tennessee game and he wanted to enjoy the moment.
HBO’s cameras started cranking Saturday with the happy locker room of an undefeated SEC team. Despite all of the issues, injuries, mistakes and injuries and making their coach mad and — did I mention injuries? — the Gators took care of business for the fourth time in five Saturdays.
This one came against an old rival that played like a bunch of old men. The Vols aren’t very good and whether it’s coaching or the players (give Jim McElwain and Butch Jones credit for the talent discrepancy, no, never mind!) but Tennessee is not your concern.
You will, instead, enjoy another week basking in the glow of one of the best stories in college football and the feeling that you really like your coach. At least for another week.
Both of these programs are only two years removed from four-win seasons. One hired Dan Mullen. The other wanted to hire Dan Mullen.
One program may not get to four wins this season. The other is already there.
“We did a lot of good things out there today,” Mullen said.
And some bad ones. This is still far from a finished project.
This time Florida got off to a fast start with a touchdown drive that ended with a 19-yard pass to emerging star Kyle Pitts. It was Kyle on Kyle crime against the Vols.
Clearly, his first start in seven years wasn’t shaking the new quarterback.
“Obviously, there was a lot more for me with media and everything,” Trask said. “I think I did a great job of staying focused.”
It got a little squirrelly for much of the rest of the half with turnovers and more reviews than opening night of “Hamilton.” But Florida’s late drive in the second half made it look like a rout could be on.
And while it wasn’t a traditional blowout (Florida seemed obsessed with letting the Vols stick around), UF ended up with an easy win that saw Tennessee run out the clock for the last couple of minutes of the game, content to count the lumps already administered on the plane ride home.
Trask was “solid” according to his coach and you could almost hear the Gator faithful swooning after every completion. He held the ball too long at times (that won’t work in two weeks) and threw two bad interceptions.
But he got his feet drenched. He played in his second SEC game and got his first start.
“Completely different environment, to say the least,” Trask said.
But pretty much the same team.
These are still the Gators who seem to hesitate to put a team away. Mullen got so angry at the start of the second half I thought he was going to go for the old visor toss.
“We were going to get a delay of game,” he said. “We were moseying out there on the field and we were all standing over the ball. We called the play before we left the locker room.
“A bunch of things ticked me off. I’m trying to have a nice afternoon and you bring up all of the things that are going to tick me off.”
But these are still the Gators that throw the ball into coverage.
“The interceptions are coachable moments,” Mullen said. “The fumbles, though, not good.”
That’s nine turnovers in four games.
And yet, these also are still the Gators who stiffen up when the offense turns it over. Offenses have scored only nine points on those nine UF turnovers.
These are still the Gators who struggle to run the ball, especially in the first half.
“I’m an old school guy. I like to run the ball,” Mullen said. “We’re throwing a little more. We’ll see what the shape of this team is.”
These are still the Gators who need to get healthy. Linebacker Ventrell Miller was the latest to miss substantial time in a game.
And they are still the Gators who don’t look like a Top-10 college football team.
Except for this.
Florida is 4-0. After four games, you can’t do better than that. I know. I looked it up.
You can look at all of the broken chain links and look nervously at the future.
Or you can sit back and enjoy a 4-0 start.
It will all get sorted out soon enough.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.