Grading The Gators: Atlanta bound

Zach Abolverdi
Gainesville Sun
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) celebrates with receiver Trevon Grimes after Grimes scored a touchdown Saturday against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.

OFFENSE B+

First half: Florida settled for a red-zone field goal on its first drive and punted on the next, then finally found the end zone in the second quarter after trailing Tennessee. Kyle Trask orchestrated a two-minute TD drive before the half and finished with 251 yards. 

Second half: The Gators scored on their final series of the first half and opening possession of the second for the sixth time in seven games when deferring the coin toss. UF then turned it over on downs and went three-and-out twice before marching 86 yards in six plays — all Trask completions — to put the game away. 

For the game: Trask tossed four touchdowns and threw for 433 yards, and it’s a good thing he did. Florida’s ground game produced a season-low 19 yards, including just one yard in the first half. Trask was sacked twice for only the second time this season and the offense stalled at times, but he and his receiving corps had another huge day. 

DEFENSE B

First half: Tennessee’s first two series netted 24 yards with a three-and-out and a punt. The Gators then gave up a 96-yard touchdown drive to fall behind 7-3. Their defense responded by allowing just 16 yards combined on the final three possessions of the half. 

Second half: Florida also opened the second period with a three-and-out and the Vols went 0-for-4 on third down in the third quarter, with freshman QB Harrison Bailey taking three sacks. He was sacked again to start the fourth and benched for J.T. Shrout, who produced two TD drives of 90-plus yards. 

For the game: Coach Dan Mullen wasn’t happy about the late scores, but the Gators had some backups in the game on both possessions. They had dominated defensively after Bailey’s touchdown pass, holding the Vols to under 100 yards rushing and 4-for-15 on third-down attempts. UF made a total of six sacks.

SPECIAL TEAMS A-

First half: Florida’s punt return unit snuffed out the fake by Paxton Brooks and forced an incompletion, setting up Trask & Co. at the UT 30. They weren’t able to capitalize, however, with Evan McPherson missing wide right from 53 yards. Jacob Finn’s lone punt of the half was downed at the 4. 

Second half: Finn booted his second 50-yarder of the season, and then Trask showed off his leg with a 32-yard pooch punt late in the fourth. Like Finn, Trask pinned the Vols at the 4. 

For the game: McPherson gave the Gators their first lead with his 30-yard field goal, but has now missed a kick in back-to-back games. That was the only thing that kept this grade from being an A. 

OVERALL B

The Gators overcame another sluggish start with their potent passing game and third-down defense. They scored under 40 points for the third straight game, but still won by double digits. Most importantly, UF is on top of the SEC East again. Kudos to Mullen and his staff for getting this program back to Atlanta.