Trask’s career day lifts Florida in return to Swamp

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Florida quarterback Kyle Trask throws Saturday against Vanderbilt at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]
Coming off a devastating and emotional loss to Georgia a week ago, and a rugged four-game stretch that featured three top-10 opponents over the past five weeks, this is exactly what the Florida Gators needed.
A chance to breathe. A chance to relax. A chance to cut loose, score some points and have some fun in front of their fans again.
The No. 10 Gators (8-2 overall and 5-2 in the SEC) certainly had all kinds of fun and scored all kinds of points Saturday in The Swamp, overwhelming Vanderbilt 56-0 before 86,201 with UF’s most complete team performance of the season.
“Games like this are confidence boosters and statement games,” said wide receiver Trevon Grimes, who started a second-half scoring onslaught for the Gators with a 66-yard touchdown reception on UF’s first offensive play of the third quarter. “We needed a game like this just to get everybody’s confidence back up. After a loss, everyone’s obviously down. We don’t want to be, but it’s just the nature of the game. We came back out here where everybody’s back, head high.
“The biggest thing Coach Mullen always talks about is playing with a chip on our shoulder. We knew we had to come out and make a statement, and I feel like we really did that. We came out and executed on offense, defense, as well as special teams. We just went out there and had a phenomenal team win.
“We’re looking forward to playing good football in these last couple of games.”
If Saturday’s performance is an indication of things to come, the Gators have a chance to close out the regular season strong.
After leaving a bunch of points on the field in a first half that saw quarterback Kyle Trask throw two interceptions and the Gators come away with only a 14-0 halftime lead, UF buried the Commodores with a 42-point second half.
So much for the pregame concerns about a possible hangover from what happened in Jacksonville a week earlier.
“This is a great win for us to come back after last week, good response by our guys,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “The intensity in practice this week, how we prepared, how we came out and played, I thought that was pretty good for us.
“Obviously, great crowd. It was great to be back in The Swamp. The biggest thing to me was the energy. We fed so much off of that, being back home, having not been here for a long time.
“Our fans showed up and created an unbelievable environment. That’s what The Swamp is all about, creating the best home-field advantage in college football.”
The Gators certainly did their part to reward their fans. They put on a show both offensively and defensively.
UF rolled up 560 yards of offense, led by a 363-yard, three-touchdown passing performance by Trask, while holding the Commodores to only 51 yards rushing and just 128 total yards.
The second-half scoring feast featured highlight play after highlight play by the Gators, including Grimes’ long TD reception and run, defensive end Jon Greenard’s 80-yard scoop and score on a sack/fumble by true freshman outside linebacker Mohamoud Diabate and three touchdown runs by redshirt freshman quarterback Emory Jones.
“Our team did a great job of getting back on track,” said Trask, who completed 25 of 37 passes with a career-high for yards. “We still have a lot left to play for and at the end of the day, we still have to control what we can control.
“The receivers did a great job of getting open and our offensive line did a great job of just working really hard in practice, and it showed today. We could have put up a lot more points, but I’m really proud of the way our guys performed today.”
The Gators definitely left points on the field in the first half. Both of Trask’s interceptions came deep in Vandy territory — the first from the 27 and the second at the goal-line in the closing seconds. Both were made by Tae Daley. Even McPherson also missed a 41-yard field goal after UF had a first-and-10 on the 20.
What was the difference in the second half?
“We scored touchdowns,” Mullen said. “To be honest with you, with the exception of the ball crossing the goal line, really nothing. I thought we moved the ball really well most of the day and in the first half we left a bunch of points out there.
“It’s good that we scored a bunch, but I think we left a bunch out there and that’s kind of disappointing. Should have scored a whole bunch more, but great learning. Can’t turn it over, we had three red-zone possessions end up in two interceptions and a missed field goal and you can’t do that. So, we’ll keep working on it and keep getting better.”

Up next
Who: Florida at Missouri
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
TV: CBS
Radio: 103.7-FM

16 COMMENTS

  1. Kudos to Trask who has continued to shine as a starter. Also keep an eye out for number 11 on defense, Muhomaud Diabate, the freshman from Auburn who is on the path to becoming a star going forward both for his play and his leadership attributes.

  2. When is someone going to start talking about how good Kyle Trask is? I know that Tebow is still revered in Gainesville, and I loved him and still do, but he played behind a great line and had Percy Harvin and Aaron Hernandez, two great future NFL players (Hernandez’s other problems aside). As good as Tebow was, Trask throws better and sees the field better. He threw a pass to Pitts before Pitts even turned. He is the best Gator QB I have seen in the 20 years I have lived here. Remember, Tom Brady didn’t start in high school and not until his senior year at Michigan.

    • Kyle is a great passer! He sees the field very well! In fact, Kyle Trask’s been a ”breath of fresh cool Autumn air.” But to be ”picky,” (and aren’t we football fans always picky?) Kyle needs to ”decide” more quickly when he finally chooses to ”run the ball at certain times.” Put the ball in his arm securely and ”RUN KYLE, RUN!” I was screaming at the T.V. for Kyle to ”run it!” before he finally scored his running T.D. in Saturday’s game (a pass play gone broken). And a really good job for Emory Jones, too, scoring 3 T.D.s! Go Gators! Win 10!

  3. Can the Gators FINALLY win at Mizzou… again?!? Can U.F. beat the Tigers at Mizzou (or for a 1st time) under Coach Mullen? Great game Saturday, against a worn down Vandy, but it’s time to win on the road at 11 A.M. (the Gators’ actual time in their bodies Sat. when game kicks off). “The early bird gets the worm!” Go Gators! Win 10!

    • Something tells me this will be a “different” Mizzou game. The Gators have only played one game vs. Mizzou where they’ve had a semi-functional passing game. That was in 2015, when we had Will Grier at QB and the final score was 21-3 Gators.

      This team takes a passing game into Columbia that Mizzou has NEVER seen from the Gators. They’re used to inept Gator offenses allowing them to hang around, or inept Gator QB’s handing them the game. Let’s see how good they are at keeping up with a high scoring offense coupled with a ball hawking defense.

  4. The only reason we shouldn’t compare Kyle Trask to other great Gator QBs YET is that he’s only done it for a handful of games. However, Trask has a good chance to join the Gator greats by the time he’s done in Hogtown after next season. All he has to do is keep it up and not get injured.

    I believe building up Trask’s confidence and stats was the major reason CDM allowed him continue to play well into the 4th quarter, after this game was well in hand. Performances like yesterday’s will be needed to remind the rest of the team who their best QB is come next summer, when Trask will be subjected to an inevitable QB competition vs. a former starter that has better physical attributes and more starts than Kyle will get this season.

    • I’m kind of looking at it that way too, SR…..or at a minimum, wondering about the role of internal politics. Problem is, I can’t quite put my finger on what those politics are really all about. Here’s the thing — when CDM says “______ gives us the best chance to win”, I take it as his judgement following input from his staff, and that’s it. Well, at the end of the proverbial day it’ll still be his decision and judgement…..but I don’t have to think too hard to come up with games we might not have won had Trask not been our quarterback. That’s all I can say.

      • Football is a team sport and the whole team must believe in whoever wins the starting QB job next summer. That belief must be built on more than practice performance. It has to be earned on the field.

        Franks has a resume that stretches over two seasons. That may be why CDM played Trask well beyond the point when Jones should’ve gone in vs. Vandy. There are only 2 more games + a bowl game left to this season and he probably wants the team to have a more extensive body of Trask’s work to compare come next summer and early fall. It’ll minimize the “politics” involved in justifying his eventual choice to lead the team.