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Trask ties Burrow's mark with 6 TDs in SEC opener

By Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask looks down field on a pass play during a four-touchdown first half against the Rebels Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

Kyle Trask didn’t consider himself to be a back-up quarterback, despite his prior designation as such.

Saturday’s showing gave credence to those wondering why he ever was one. 

The redshirt senior made clear from the jump Saturday he’s an SEC-caliber quarterback in Florida’s 51-35 win at Ole Miss by tossing a career-high six touchdown passes for 416 yards.

His performance tied former LSU and current Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s mark for touchdown performances in a conference opener. Trask’s six touchdowns also marked a Florida program single-game record, which wasn’t lost on his head coach. 

“I think there's a lot to being a veteran quarterback, and especially in this situation. He comes out in a Game 1, a defense that we hadn't (seen). New D-coordinator on a new staff you don't know a lot about. We kept things base offense of what we were doing,” Gators coach Dan Mullen said of Trask. “He did a good job of managing the whole offense and managing the game, getting us into the right play. All the adjustments we made on the sideline, he did a great job getting to those adjustments and creating, finding the mismatches all over the field. I think we did a really good job of that all day." 

Any inclinations Florida’s offense would have missed a beat following a peculiar –– if not non-existent –– offseason were quickly put to rest by Trask’s first-half performance. 

The Manvel, Texas, native tossed four touchdown passes in the first 30 minutes of play, with a beautiful 16-yard back-shoulder throw to tight end Kyle Pitts –– one of Pitts’ four scores on the day –– with nine seconds until halftime capping an impressive opening half to the unique 2020 season.

“I just feel like we had a great game plan. We had answers for every look they were showing us,” Trask said. “And we had some great checks that we executed well. Overall, it’s just a great team game, everybody executed from start to finish.”

In a year full of unexpected circumstances, the Kyle-to-Kyle connection was as guaranteed as they come. 

“That’s been said around here for a while,” Trask said of Florida’s apparent Kyle-connection. “(Pitts) can do a lot of things. He's a match-up nightmare for defenses. He's too big for corners and too fast for linebackers, so he gives defenses a lot of trouble.”

The redshirt senior quarterback went into the halftime tunnel having completed 18-of-25 passing attempts for 241 yards and a quartet of scores as UF took a 28-14 lead into the break. 

The Gators did attempt to get quarterback Emory Jones into the mix early, but he was pressured and intercepted on his lone pass attempt, leading to Trask finishing the first half and beyond –– and he made sure not to disappoint. 

Trask helped the Gators account for 305 yards on offense in the second half, as Florida made sure not to let the double-digit advantage slip away. 

Despite hanging more than 50 points on the Rebels, however, Trask was adamant the Gators can improve as the 10-game conference-only slate continues. If so, Florida has to like its chances when it comes to out-scoring the opposition this season. 

“We can always be better. You know, there's things that we’ve got to get cleaned up. And we came out here and we executed well, because you know we took advantage of the practices we had and the time we had,” Trask said. “All the practices that were available, I mean, there wasn't a lot of time we had because of the quarantine, things like that. I thought we came in, had a great mindset and it showed today.”