Instant Analysis: Trask outduels Franks as Gators beat Razorbacks

Nov 15, 2020 | 0 comments

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 The No. 6 Gators’ game with Arkansas on Saturday night had all the makings of a trap game. UF was coming off its first win over Georgia in four attempts and found itself in an ideal position to win the SEC East for the first time since 2016. Arkansas, meanwhile, was one of the league’s doormats the past few years but has emerged as one of the most surprising teams in the country this season.

Good teams often get upset in scenarios like this. Championship teams find a way to turn the page from a big win quickly and take care of business at home.

The Gators once again proved that they possess championship DNA on Saturday night in the Swamp, beating the Razorbacks (3-4) 63-35.

Here is our Instant Analysis.

It Was Over When: After an 83-yard touchdown run by Trelon Smith cut Florida’s lead to 21-14, the Gators answered right back with a five-play, 65-yard touchdown drive. Trevon Grimes caught a 21-yard pass over the middle to put the Gators into Arkansas territory, and Kyle Trask connected with a wide-open Jacob Copeland for a 33-yard score on the next play.

The Razorbacks then went three-and-out thanks to a sack by Zachary Carter on third down.

Trask then wrapped the half with a perfectly thrown five-yard touchdown pass to Keon Zipperer on a corner route to extend UF’s lead to 35-14 at the half.

The Razorbacks scored on their opening possession of the second half, but the hole was too deep for them to climb out of.

He Stole the Show: You can pretty much pencil Trask into this category every game before the game even starts. As he’s done all year, he displayed unreal accuracy, anticipation and decision-making. He also showed off a stronger arm than a lot of people give him credit for. His darts into tight coverage in the corner of the end zone for touchdowns to Justin Shorter and Keon Zipperer and his 43-yard completion to Xzavier Henderson on a botched flea-flicker will be on his Heisman highlight reel when the time comes.

He completed 23 of 29 passes for 356 yards and six touchdowns to extend his SEC record to six consecutive games with at least four touchdown passes.

Oh What A Play: With the Gators leading 14-7 in the second quarter, Dan Mullen dialed up a flea-flicker on his own 36-yard line. However, running back Dameon Pierce’s toss back to Trask was low, and he had to scoop it off of the turf. He didn’t get flustered and fired a 43-yard completion to a diving Henderson.

Normally, that would be the play that stood out.

Except Justin Shorter topped it on the very next snap. Trask pump-faked a screen pass and threw a bullet to the right corner of the end zone. The Penn State transfer skied into the air, high-pointed the ball and hauled in the 21-yard score over Arkansas safety Jalen Catalon.

It was exactly the type of play the Gators hoped for when they convinced the former five-star prospect to continue his career at Florida.

This Stat Mattered Most: Entering the day, Arkansas had surrendered 300 passing yards just once this season, and that was to Mississippi State’s Air Raid attack. Trask threw for 285 yards in the first half and crossed the 300-yard mark late in the third quarter. Trask’s big day allowed UF to overcome an inconsistent showing defensively.

This Matchup Proved Key: The Razorbacks’ defense entered the day ranked second in the conference in passing defense, and the Gators were without all-world tight end Kyle Pitts following his concussion against Georgia.

It didn’t matter. UF’s receivers got open and made contested catches anyway. Grimes caught six passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns, while Kadarius Toney added seven receptions for 57 yards. Reserve tight end Keon Zipperer caught a pair of touchdowns. The Gators’ passing game is simply too potent and too deep for even the best defenses to contain.

Up Next: Florida (5-1) will play its first true road game since the Texas A&M loss when it travels to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt (0-6) next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

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