Instant Analysis: Gators beat Vols, punch ticket to Atlanta

Dec 5, 2020 | 0 comments

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When Dan Mullen took the Florida job more than three years ago, he had one goal in mind – to bring championships back to Gainesville.

After nearly three seasons of ups and downs, the Gators finally took the first step toward making that a reality on Saturday in Knoxville. With their 31-19 win over Tennessee (2-6), No. 6 Florida clinched the SEC East title and will play in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19 for the first time in four years.

Here is our Instant Analysis of a celebratory day on Rocky Top.

It Was Over When: As they’ve done so many times this season, the Gators used the final minutes of the first half and the first few minutes of the second half to blow the game open.

On their final drive of the first half, the Gators drove 80 yards on 10 plays. Kyle Trask connected with Kadarius Toney for an easy 2-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 17-7 at halftime.

Florida got the ball first to start the second half and moved down the field with ease, with Trask hitting Kyle Pitts for a 42-yard catch and run on a deep crossing route and Jacob Copeland gaining 17 yards on a reverse. Trask finished the five-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass on a slant to Trevon Grimes to make the score 24-7.

He Stole The Show: This is a tough call between Trask and Toney. Since extraordinary performances have become the norm for Trask, we’ll go with Toney, who played perhaps the best game of his career. He caught eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown and made a key block on Grimes’ 4-yard score in the first quarter. With Tennessee blanketing Pitts for most of the night, Toney became the go-to receiver, and he delivered.

Oh, What A Play: On a first down at the Tennessee 33-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Pitts ran a go-route, and Trask’s back-shoulder throw was a little high and wide of Pitts. Pitts skied into the air, reached high above his head and made the 21-yard grab. It was one of Pitts’ best catches this season that didn’t result in a touchdown.

This Stat Mattered Most: The Gators only rushed for 23 yards. Despite that, they still outgained the Volunteers 456-334. That’s a testament to the way Trask and the defense played other than a couple of drives.

This Matchup Proved Key: Though Trask made a few poor decisions and the receivers had a couple of drops, Florida’s receivers versus Tennessee’s secondary was the most important matchup. Toney, Grimes, Pitts, and Copeland all made some big plays. They gave the Gators a multi-score lead and forced Tennessee to attempt to mount a comeback with a freshman quarterback making his first start.

Up Next: The Gators (8-1) will wrap up the regular season when they host LSU next Saturday. Kickoff time and the television network will be announced on Sunday.






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