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Gators notebook: Taunting Franks initially backfires

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks completed 15 of 19 passes for 250 yards and two scores Saturday against his former team at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, but the Gators won in  a rout.

Florida fans should have known not to heckle Razorbacks quarterback Feleipe Franks, and they promptly saw their team pay the price. Franks’ first completion resulted in a Razorbacks first down, and his second pass attempt went for 8 yards and gave Arkansas position inside UF territory. 

Then, Franks turned any remaining jeers into silence. The former Gators signal-caller stepped back and delivered a 47-yard strike to a sprinting Mike Woods, who went untouched into the end zone. The visitors needed just three plays and 1:33 as opposed to Florida’s 14-play opening drive. Fortunately for Florida, the initial strike wouldn’t be indicative of what’s to come — regardless.

Unavailable list

Gators star tight end Kyle Pitts wasn’t the only Florida playmaker unable to take the field against Arkansas. Jeremiah Moon, who injured his foot against Georgia, was ruled out for the game prior to kick-off as well, which UF coach Dan Mullen floated as a possibility throughout the week.

In addition to Moon, Florida’s defense was without linebacker James Houston as well for undisclosed reasons. Fortunately for Florida, defensive back Trey Dean made his return to the field after missing the match-up with the 'Dawgs. Florida also listed David Reese, Iverson Clement, Kamar Wilcoxson, Nick Oelrich, Lamar Goods, Jaelin Humphries, and T.J. Moore as the program’s remaining unavailable players.

Mullen confirmed Pitts had surgery on his nose and said the player should be back for the Gators home game vs. Kentucky on Nov. 28.

Grimes shows out

Less than 24 hours after receiving an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, UF wide receiver Trevon Grimes showed in the first half why the accolades may just be starting. 

The former five-star prospect hauled in both of Florida’s touchdown passes in the first 20 minutes of action to put the Gators up 14-7 on the Razorbacks. 

Grimes’ first touchdown reception came on a 9-yard screen pass from Trask, which the Ft. Lauderdale native likely wouldn’t have scored if it weren’t for an impressive block from tight end Kemore Gamble.

Following Feleipe Franks’ 47-yard touchdown pass, the Gators established the run before going to Grimes once again.

With Florida’s offense approaching the red zone, Trask found Grimes wide-open over the middle of the field thanks to busted coverage by the Razorbacks, and the 6-foot-4 receiver waltzed untouched into the end zone to put UF up 14-7 pending the extra point. 

“Oh, it was great. I think coming in the game they knew we were down Kyle Pitts, but you knew we were still going to run our offense,” Mullen said. “And you know, you look at Grimes with two touchdowns, (Jacob) Copeland with a touchdown, (Justin) Shorter with a touchdown. KT (Kadarius Toney) didn’t get one tonight, but they were kind of playing that zone and keeping everybody inside. Take him away and our outside guys went and made plays.”

Tight ends step up, too

And it wasn’t just Grimes — Florida’s back-up tight ends also made sure to capitalize on the opportunity to produce with Pitts sidelined. 

UF tight end Keon Zipperer, who entered the game with a lone receiving touchdown in his Florida career, hauled in two touchdown passes on three receptions against the Razorbacks. Gamble continued his streak of showing up when it mattered most as well, setting a key block on Grimes’ first touchdown grab. 

“I think our guys did a great job. You’re talking about guys being prepared when their number is called, come in and perform and make plays. That’s such a huge deal for us,” Mullen said. “You’re down Kyle Pitts, great playmaker, but Gamble and Zipperer step up and have really good games.”

Trask numbers

It was the second game this season Trask has thrown six TDs, the only player in school history to do so. ... He became the third player in school history with at least 25 touchdown passes in multiple years, joining Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow and Danny Wuerffel. ... He also became the fourth QB in the FBS since 1996 to throw four or more TDs in six consecutive games in a single season. The list includes Colt Brennan (Hawaii, 9 in 2006), Graham Harrell (Texas Tech, 6 in 2007) and Logan Woodside (Toledo, 6 in 2016).