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Gators notebook: Kyle-to-Kyle connection might grow even stronger

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida tight end Kyle Pitts celebrates after scoring a touchdown Saturday against Mississippi during the second half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

After the display Kyle Pitts put on in the win over Ole Miss last Saturday, everyone seems to agree that he is a tight end with wide receiver skills and speed.

Many are just finding that out.

The UF coaches knew almost right away after he arrived on campus two years ago that he was going to be a potential mismatch for opposing defensive backs and linebackers.

“It was in training camp his freshman year,” offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said. “It was just a matter of him kind of growing into the position. He was actually (wide receiver) Van (Jefferson’s) backup our first year in 2018. We played him a little bit more outside just because he had so much talent — a huge catch radius, he’s fast, he can get in and out of breaks. 

“And then he kind of grew into what we saw in terms of him being an elite tight end. It was fairly early on. He was a guy that as a young player, as a freshman, he played behind Van and really had a chance to learn from him. We put him in the game, he made some plays. He continued to develop and grow, and now he’s in a position where he’s one of the best players in America.”

The Kyle-to-Kyle connection (Trask to Pitts) produced eight receptions for 170 yards and four touchdowns in the 51-35 victory over the Rebels.

It looks like this has a chance to become a big deal in college football this season.

Pitts said there is no secret to it.

"I think our chemistry comes from preparation,” he said. “Times during the week where we start practicing running routes, maybe I drop the ball or he didn't like how it looks so we just run it again. And in the offseason, did a lot of talking together, a lot of routes, a lot of work with the receiver corps and tight ends, the whole offense. I feel like our connection is good. It's grown. Each week we put more trust in what we do."

Trask said the connection should only grow stronger over the course of the season. He said, dating back to last season, he’s seen no indication that teams have found a way to match up with Pitts.

"I've yet to see it,” he said. “If they do, it means they're going to be putting a lot of guys over him and just open up a lot of people all across the field.

“We're just trying to go one step at a time, and just keep building, going brick-by-brick, and taking our games to the next level. Our connection just continues to improve, and that's huge for us in moving the ball."

No positive COVID-19 tests

The Gators had no players test positive for COVID-19 over the past week, according to data released by UF on Tuesday. The Gators remain at 10 positive tests for September.

Since May 26, the football team has had 31 positive tests.

Resilient Emory

Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson did not hesitate when No. 2 quarterback Emory Jones threw an interception on the first play of a possession in the Ole Miss game. He put him right back in the game.

“It was really important,” Johnson said. “We wanted to make sure that we got him in and let him play. Obviously, the first play design didn’t go as we’d planned. But he did a nice job, it didn’t faze him, he didn’t freak out at all.

“He just came out and continued to play, and he made some plays when he was out there. I was really proud of him for continuing to play one play at a time and not getting too high and not getting too low and just going out there and executing and making some plays.”

Miller leading the way

Junior middle linebacker Ventrell Miller’s 15-tackle performance against the Rebels, which earned him SEC defensive player of the week honors, certainly didn’t surprise his coaches or teammates. They see this stuff all the time on the practice field.

“He plays so hard,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “He’s a great leader for the defense. I think he understands that he’s expected to be the leader of the defense. He does that every single day. I think it’s a great learning experience for all of our players out there. You watch him practice, and you watch how he prepares, how hard he practices, how he prepares to be in the right position, his attention to detail and everything he does at practice. And then you see that translate over to the games. 

“It’s not that he’s just a vocal leader who’s going to talk and get guys going, but he’s also going to back it up with his actions. You watch how he practices, how he performs every day on the field. It translates to seeing a guy be able to go out and have a huge game like he did on Saturday.”