Florida Football 3-2-1: Trask’s Heisman hype grows

Nov 9, 2020 | 0 comments

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After a pair of frustrating losses to Georgia, the Gators finally got over the hump and beat then-No. 5 Georgia in Jacksonville on Saturday thanks to a historic aerial attack engineered by quarterback Kyle Trask.

No. 6 UF can’t afford to get complacent, though. They’ll welcome in an Arkansas team that has proven to be one of the peskiest teams in the SEC this year.

Here are three observations, two questions and one prediction as the Gators (4-1) enter Arkansas week.

Three Observations

1) Dan Mullen finally found the weakness in Kirby Smart’s defense. According to Sports Illustrated/AllGators, Trask completed eight passes on wheel routes for 217 yards and a touchdown to reserve tight end Kemore Gamble. Mullen kept calling wheel route after wheel route and sometimes paired it with a rub route inside. Georgia’s defense didn’t make any adjustments or defend a wheel route correctly until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. UF’s running backs were the biggest beneficiaries, catching 10 passes for 212 yards, with a large chunk coming on wheel routes. You have to wonder how much not having star safety Richard LeCounte hurt UGA’s communication in the secondary. Regardless, it was a bit shocking to see a defensive genius like Smart not have any answers for what Mullen threw at him.

2) Florida’s secondary didn’t play as well as the statistics suggest. On paper, they allowed UGA’s two quarterbacks to complete just nine of 29 passes for 112 yards and intercepted three passes. However, the Bulldogs had receivers running wide open deep down the field on numerous occasions. The Gators were fortunate that Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis couldn’t throw a pebble into the ocean from five feet away. The safety play has to get cleaned up if the Gators are going to hoist some hardware in the coming months. The Gators will likely play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, and Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones wouldn’t have missed on many of those deep balls. Better play is necessary in the back end.

3) The Gators’ offense has to learn how to finish games better. They gained just 160 total yards and scored just six points after halftime. They had their foot on Georgia’s neck, but they let them off the hook. If the Bulldogs had completed even one of those deep balls, the game could’ve gotten even more dicey. This has become a recurring theme for them. Against South Carolina, they went dormant in the second half and allowed the Gamecocks to make it a two-score game. A punt and a fumble in the second half contributed to the loss at Texas A&M. The offense does so many things well, but finishing games is not one of them.

Two Questions

1) How banged up are the Gators? Kyle Pitts left the game and didn’t return following a vicious helmet-to-helmet targeting play. Mullen declined to update his status after the game. Right guard Stewart Reese and right tackle Jean Delance both went down with injuries. Defensive end Brenton Cox was injured in the first quarter but returned and finished the game. Brad Stewart also left the game with an injury but returned later. The odds are that at least a couple of these players will miss the game next week. Who will the Gators be without against Arkansas, and how will their absences affect the team?

2) Can the Gators recover emotionally in time for the Arkansas game? Beating Georgia after a three-year losing streak meant a lot to this team, and they celebrated pretty hard on the field after the game. The Gators are in an outstanding position relative to the East division title, but they must regain their focus before welcoming in the Razorbacks on Saturday. The Razorbacks (3-3) have been the most surprising team in the SEC this season, knocking off Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Tennessee and coming within a poor officiating decision away from beating Auburn. If the Gators sleep-walk into the game, Arkansas can beat them. They play hard and are well-coached defensively, and former UF quarterback Feleipe Franks likely won’t miss a handful of wide-open receivers like Georgia’s quarterbacks did. This could be a fascinating game.

One Prediction

1) Trask’s Heisman hype will grow immensely this week. Don’t be surprised if he’s No. 1 on some of those lists that people put out early in the week. He meets all of the qualifications of a Heisman Trophy winner. Record-breaking statistical season? Check. Plays on a championship contender? Check. An incredible backstory? Check. Has had a “Heisman moment”? Check. You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody in the country who’s played a better game this season than Trask did on Saturday. He torched one of the best defenses in the country for a regular season program record 474 yards and four touchdowns. He threw for more than 300 yards and all four scores in the first half alone. Trask’s Heisman campaign will start to gather steam this week.

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