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Florida game had everything (not all good)

Pat Dooley
Gator Sports
Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz, left, and Florida coach Dan Mullen yell at each other after a fight broke out at the end of the first half Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Zoom screen shot of Florida coach Dan Mullen dressed on Halloween night as Darth Vader.

This was a game that had everything.

And that was unfortunate.

Oh, there was plenty of candy in the bowl. The good stuff, too. Not that generic "Joe's Saltwater Taffy" or "Facetious Pieces."

But there was the apple with the worm in it that old man Farnsworth at the end of the road was giving out.

It will be hard to disassociate this impressive Florida victory on Halloween night with the brawl that took place at the half. Players will be players and we get that teammates look out for teammates.

We also understand that no matter how long the game is played there will be some football players who don't understand that punching a guy with a helmet on is really dumb.

But it happened. Three players were ejected and we will wait and see if the SEC takes it any further. Dan Mullen, in full Halloween glory after the game with a complete Darth Vader costume on, probably could have made a better choice. 

But that choice was made before the game. After the game, people weren't sure whether he was part of the problem or part of the solution. He said he was sprinting to the middle of the field because he was trying to get his players off the field.

Or maybe he was upset about the "late" hit that Kyle Trask took and wanted to get the head official's ear so he could think about it while hydrating at the half.

All I know for sure is this — Zachary Carter was playing the best game of his Florida career. 

Until he chose not to play the second half.

Because that's what you choose when you start throwing punches.

Here is the amazing thing — even without Carter, even with three secondary starters unavailable (we assume COVID-19, which packs a pretty mean punch, is responsible), even with Trey Dean going out with an injury, this was the 2020 defense's finest hour.

And that's where we will take this. Oh, we'll get to offense.

"It sure seems like we're playing (a lot) with a partial defense," Mullen said. "We haven't lost confidence in anyone. We knew they would play with pride tonight."

Man, I knew this defense missed tackle Kyree Campbell, but I had no idea it was this much.

"It raises the level of the defense," Mullen said. "When he's not in there, it's a trickle down. "But when he is in there it's a trickle up effect."

Really, the Gator defense came close to pitching kind of a shutout. One touchdown came on a Trask pick-six that was forced by Nick Bolton's pressure of the quarterback. Three points came on a field goal that was window dressing and the last seven came against guys that sent us scurrying for the website to see who they were.

So that's impressive and picking up a turnover at the end of the half to set up another score was huge.

By then, Trask had found his rhythm and so did the rest of the offense.

"We were doing it to ourselves, not capitalizing," said receiver Justin Shorter, who caught one of Trask's four TD passes. "After the second field goal (to give Florida a 6-0 lead), everyone was, 'Come on.' "

And they did. Because the hero of the night kind of took over the game for awhile. I can't explain some of the things Kadarius Toney does. I just know they are fun to watch.

His run of three touchdowns made everyone feel like everything was going to be OK. And from there, Florida could name its score.

Despite all of the downtime that usually is poisonous for an offense.

Practice? They don't need no stinkin' practice.

Give credit to Mullen for being able to overcome the rusty start by his offensive line and give him credit for holding this team together and give him credit for making sure nobody else did anything stupid in the second half. Players say Mullen calmed down a hot locker room.

Simply by reminding them of what lies ahead next week.

So, here they are. Right where they hoped to be when Georgia week rolled around. Win and you are probably going to win the SEC East. Lose and you probably are not. 

By the time Saturday rolls around, all of the candy will be gone.

But Saturday's win is not one of those things that is handed out because you wear a costume.

This has to be earned.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask completed 21 of 36 passes for 345 yards and four scores Saturday against Missouri at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.