Dooley: Chips on shoulders lead to big rebound for Gators

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Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes breaks a Vanderbilt tackle attempt on the sideline Saturday before heading toward the end zone to complete a 66-yard scoring pass play at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]
Chips on shoulders lead to big rebound for Gators
Saturday’s Florida vs. Vanderbilt game was brought to you by chips. Not the salted snacks or the highway patrolmen or the ones you use to go all in.
This was about chips that live on shoulders and how Florida’s football players wore them like imaginary medals for the game.
If you talked to a player after the 56-0 spanking of Vanderbilt, they used the cliche like it came with their scholarships.
Florida needed chips to keep one loss from becoming two.
“We had to make sure we got our edge back,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said.
Because a loss like last week’s to Georgia takes a bite out of your soul. It can gnaw at you like flesh-eating bacteria if you let it.
And Mullen knew all about it. He’d seen it a year before when the moping Gators were boat-raced by Missouri.
Not this year.
“We knew we had to come out and make a statement,” said receiver Trevon Grimes.
And Grimes made a huge statement with a stiff-arm that turned into a 66-yard touchdown pass play that really got the Gators and a larger-than-expected crowd for this nooner into the bounce-house loud mode.
This came after a frustrating first half that saw the Gators lead with a million yards to hardly any for the opponent and only 14-0 where it counted.
Two Kyle Trask interceptions were part of the frustration. So was a play we saw just last week that again went against the Gators and pushed Mullen to the brink of a frenzy.
His comment on getting a review going against him on what looked like a catch by Jacob Copeland?
“My wife would tell me it’s not really worth the money,” he said, alluding to a fine that would follow his real opinion. “Someone tell me the difference (to last week’s catch by Georgia that was not overturned). They looked pretty similar to me.”
But all of that had to be put in the rearview after halftime.
“I didn’t want (the first half) to lead to frustration,” he said.
And it did not. Instead, the Gators lined up their chips and rolled in the second half.
“We let a lot of people down last week,” said receiver Tyrie Cleveland. “We wanted to show we could still play to the Gator standard.”
This is about the time we insert the obvious caveat into this tale. Vandy isn’t very good. Check that, with their third different quarterback starting, Vanderbilt is awful.
Bad on offense, bad on defense is no way to go through life.
But there are plenty of Gator fans scarred by two things:
1. Vandy always seems to play Florida tough. OK, not always, but often enough to give you some anxious moments. Like last year.
2. Florida after its last three losses to Georgia had lost the next game by at least three touchdowns.
But this was different because it was Vandy and not just because it was Vandy but a bad Vandy.
At the same time, it said a lot about the 2019 Florida team that the Gators stay focused on the next game instead of reliving the last one. Mullen said the Gators had their best Monday practice of the year despite all of the social media noise that was rattling around in their brains.
This looked a lot more like the loose Gator teams we had seen since Kyle Trask took over than the uptight one that showed up in Jacksonville and was buried under an avalanche of mistakes.
That included a strange touchdown pass from Trask to Lamical Perine on an option play that turned into a chest pass over a defender.
“Whatever you gotta do to get it to him,” Trask said.
Yep, whatever it took to go all Taylor Swift and “Shake It Off” (don’t hate me for knowing that song) was the perfect antidote to the Bulldog Blues.
They knew the recipe.
“Just get back into the lab and work,” said tight end Kyle Pitts, “and work 10 times harder than you did last week.”
Sometimes that can be difficult through the tears.
And sometimes Vanderbilt shows up.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Can anyone explain why Coach Mullen leaves Trask in the game into the 4th quarter of a game that we are leading by 48 points? Not only that, he calls plays for him to run? What can be gained by this except to get your starting quarterback hurt and to keep you 2nd string quarterback from playing any meaningful minutes? Emory Jones needs meaningful minutes to grow (not to mention, we need him to stick around and be a Gator next year). This is not the first time Coach Mullen has done this.

    • And Baylor, who was a lot closer to the Gators at #12, won their game in triple OT too!

      The Gators, with 2 losses, may drop behind BOTH Minnesota and Baylor, who are in Power 5 conferences and both now 9-0. No teams just ahead of the Gators in the rankings lost to create room for those two undefeated teams crashing in.

  2. I am good with Trask playing into the 4th quarter although I would have taken him out at the end of the 3rd. I think Florida was trying to have as high a scoring a game and have as much fun and excitement as possible. It certainly was fun to be there. I don’t care who we play I like seeing the Gators score as many points as possible and to get a shut out, again, no matter who we are playing, is icing on the cake. this was a game to have fun and let out all the frustrations of the last couple of weeks. Only one more home game left so have fun. Go Gators!

  3. I totally agree with HBgator and respectably but firmly disagree with Ocala. I was hoping Jones would play the ENTIRE 4th quarter and throw a pass on every other down. What is Mullen waiting for, a 60-0 lead deep in the 4th? Mullen is showing little or no confidence in Jones…….sounds familiar like Champ with Bissette!!! Pray Jones doesn’t seek out the portal.

  4. I’m back, finally caved to the subscription. Glade Freshmen are stepping up to fill roles that older guys just haven’t performed. I also wonder why Jones didn’t play the entire 4th quarter. Makes you wonder if CDM thinks he’s (1) not ready to try or (2) he doesn’t have full big league skills, IE. can’t throw play book calls?