All love between Copeland, Grimes after latter steals touchdown in UF's win
When it comes to being targeted during a game, Florida’s wide receivers are accustomed to staying patient.
They may not have been taught to anticipate receiver-on-receiver theft, however.
On the opening drive of the second half Saturday, with UF leading 17-7, the Gators quickly drove the length of the field and got all the way to Tennessee’s eight-yard line.
With three receivers lined up to quarterback Kyle Trask’s left, the scoring play appeared to work to perfection when Trevon Grimes put UF up 24-7 on a slant pass from Trask.
Yet one Florida player on the field appeared disappointed by the result — wide receiver Jacob Copeland.
The two pass-catchers had run similar routes, and video replays showed Trask’s pass may have been intended for Copeland before Grimes jumped in front at the last second.
As Grimes began to celebrate in the end zone, Copeland held his left hand out in his direction in apparent confusion at what had just occurred.
Although he’d have to wait one quarter later, Copeland would eventually haul in a touchdown pass of his own — but it didn’t erase the fact he appeared to be the final target on two second-half scoring drives rather than just one.
Following Florida’s 31-19 victory, Trask confirmed what replays had indicated — Grimes had nabbed one from his teammate.
In the postgame news Zoom, Trask appeared to still be thinking about it, as inconsequential as it may have been when it came to the result of the game.
"Oh man, I had a feeling y'all were going to ask me this. I was throwing it to Copeland at first and Tre kind of came in,” Trask admitted. “They were both open in the same spot, so I figured one of them was going to catch it."
Blame it on either a miscue or a miscommunication, but the route likely wasn’t designed for a receiver to obstruct another.
Or, maybe it was a repercussion of Florida’s offense as a whole just being slightly out of sync against the Volunteers, which Trask acknowledged.
"Yeah, there were definitely times when we were out of rhythm. Obviously there were times when we were doing great while we were in rhythm. You could tell how methodically we were getting down field,” Trask said. “But I just think we gotta continue to just work very hard cleaning up our game and just cleaning up the little things."
Despite his quarterback’s admission, Grimes wasn’t quite ready to confess to claiming Copeland’s catch, yet he did repeat the mantra: there’s only one ball after all, and Florida’s list of players capable of hauling in a pass right now stands in the double digits.
Someone’s going to feel left out, or possibly even swindled.
“Personally, I'm not sure,” Grimes, asked whether the pass was intended for Copeland, said, a smile growing across his face. “But like I said, we have a receiver group that is happy when anyone scores. So, regardless of if it was supposed to go to me or if it was supposed to go to him, he was happy for me.”
And when Copeland eventually got his, Grimes made sure to reciprocate the support.
“I know when he went down and he scored his touchdown, I was the first one over there or the second one over there and congratulated him, and he was like 'I got it, I got it,’” said Grimes. “So, I don't know if it was supposed to go to him but either way, we both scored and we're both happy and excited for each other."
That should have been the final word on the matter, but both Copeland and Grimes have social media presences. They knew unqualified critics would be inclined to pick apart the sequence, magnify it and possibly claim unrest in the unit.
So, with the SEC Eastern division title in tow and a trip to Atlanta booked, the two cleared up any possible lingering confusion.
“You know it’s all love @JCope1era,” Grimes wrote on his Twitter account. “Brudda 4L.”
Copeland, who spoke throughout the week about his blasé attitude toward social media criticism, kept it lighthearted in his message, signaling it really was all good between the two. They know Florida has far more important matters to focus on.
“Stole my damn TD,” Copeland wrote on his Twitter account, making sure to add a crying laughing emoji to affirm the message was in jest, “but it’s 4lifers with us gang! Love you kid.”