Instant Analysis: Trask’s career day launches Gators past Bulldogs

Nov 8, 2020 | 0 comments

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Dan Mullen has accomplished a ton of things in his first 2 ½ seasons on the Florida sideline. Back-to-back 10-win campaigns. Consecutive finishes in the Associated Press top-10. Three wins over top-10 opponents. A record-shattering quarterback and tight end duo.

Still, one thing eluded him – a victory over rival Georgia. The Gators lost the first two meetings against the Bulldogs under Mullen by a combined 26 points. Georgia has won the SEC East three seasons in a row, played in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, and annually ranks near the top of the recruiting rankings. Some wondered if this game would be Mullen’s kryptonite.

On Saturday in Jacksonville, the No. 8 Gators gave him a program-changing 44-28 victory over No. 5 Georgia (4-2). They are now in the driver’s seat in the East.

Here is our Instant Analysis.

It Was Over When: Leading 28-21, the Gators got the ball at their own 5-yard line with 7:44 to go in the second quarter. Kyle Trask led them on a 10-play, 63-yard drive that took 5:03 off the clock and culminated with a 50-yard field goal by Evan McPherson.

The Bulldogs went three-and-out on the ensuing drive and didn’t even force the Gators to burn a timeout. Punter Jake Camarda shanked the punt, and UF took over at the Georgia 48-yard line. Four plays later, Trask connected with Trevon Grimes on a fade route for a 14-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 38-21 at the half.

McPherson added a 51-yard field goal on the first drive of the second half to give UF firm control of the game.

They Stole the Show: In a career that has resembled a Hollywood script, Kyle Trask played the best game of his career, completing 30 of 43 passes for 474 yards and four scores. He established a new school record for passing yards against Georgia. He became the first player in SEC history to toss four or more touchdowns in five consecutive games. He may have catapulted himself to the top of the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Kyle Pitts made a pair of jaw-dropping catches on deep balls, including a 25-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter. However, he left the game in the second quarter after absorbing a vicious helmet-to-helmet blow and didn’t return. In his place, Kemore Gamble made his first career touchdown reception in the second quarter.

UF’s top three running backs played a large role in the offense. Dameon Pierce rushed 15 times for 52 yards and caught two passes for 41 yards. Malik Davis added five catches for 100 yards, and Nay’Quan Wright contributed 71 yards on three receptions.

Kaiir Elam and Shawn Davis made the first two interceptions by UF defensive backs this season in the second half.

Justin Shorter turned in the best game of his career, catching three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown.

For Georgia, running back Zamir White ran for a 75-yard score on the first play of the game, and Eric Stokes returned a Trask interception 37 yards for a touchdown.

These Stats Don’t Lie: This was an all-around dominant performance by Florida. They outgained Georgia 571-277, including 474 to 112 through the air. UF averaged 7.1 yards per play, while Georgia averaged just 4.8.

UF converted 7 of 16 third downs, while the Bulldogs converted two of 13.

Georgia entered the day leading the conference in sacks per game. They got to Trask just once.

What A Play: After Georgia took a 21-14 lead on Stokes’ pick-six, Trask led the Gators on a quick two-play scoring drive. On first-and-10 at the Bulldogs’ 25-yard line, Pitts lined up on the end of the line and ran a wheel route against UGA cornerback Tyson Campbell. Campbell grabbed on for dear life and was flagged for pass interference.

It didn’t matter. Trask lofted a perfect pass over Pitts’ outside shoulder, and Pitts fought through the contact and pulled it down for a 25-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs never led again.

These Matchups Proved Key: Florida’s oft-criticized offensive line silenced a lot of detractors with its performance. They not only held their own against the best front-7 in the SEC; they won the battle. Trask had plenty of time to scan the field and find open receivers.

On the other side, UF’s defensive front kept Georgia’s enormous and experienced offensive line from dominating, which was considered one of the biggest keys to victory entering the day.

The Gators ran a plethora of wheel routes with their running backs and tight ends against UGA’s linebackers and safeties, and the Bulldogs had no answer for them, which led to Trask’s gigantic day.

Perhaps most significantly, Mullen finally out-schemed Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart, considered one of the top defensive minds in the sport.

Up Next: Florida (4-1) returns home to face an old friend. Former Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks will lead his Arkansas team into the Swamp for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Razorbacks (2-3) have been the biggest surprise in the SEC this season, snapping their 20-game conference losing streak and playing Georgia and Auburn close.

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