Counting down Trask’s 'Heisman Moments'

Dec 31, 2020 | 0 comments

It takes more to win the Heisman Trophy than just putting up huge statistics and breaking records. Every winner seems to have had one or more “Heisman Moments,” where he let the world know that he was worthy of college football’s highest individual honor.

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask was named a finalist for the Heisman last week. If he is announced as the winner on Jan. 5, here are the 10 occasions we will look back on as Trask’s “Heisman Moments.”

10. Closing the half strong against Missouri

With less than four minutes to go in the first half, the Gators trailed Missouri 7-6 in their first game in three weeks following a COVID outbreak.

Then Trask struck like lightning. Except this lightning did strike the same place twice.

First, he led the Gators 74 yards on six plays, connecting with Jacob Copeland for 36 yards on a post route. He finished the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kadarius Toney on a screen pass.

After a Missouri fumble, Trask hit Toney again for a score, this time on a perfectly thrown 30-yard pass down the left seam.

Just like that, what appeared to be a halftime deficit turned into a two-score halftime lead. That’s exactly what you would expect a Heisman-winning quarterback to do.

9. A Texas shootout

While Florida lost to Texas A&M 41-38, it certainly wasn’t Trask’s fault. He threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. He led the Gators to scores on six of their eight possessions inside Kyle Field, the stadium he was named after.

With the score tied at 38 with 4:30 to go, he completed a 23-yard pass to running back Malik Davis to move the ball out near midfield. Unfortunately, Davis fumbled two plays later, and the Aggies ran out the clock and kicked a game-winning field goal on the final play.

Still, Trask played nearly flawlessly and put his team in position to win a shootout against one of the best defenses in the SEC. This performance showed the world that Trask’s hot start to the season wasn’t merely a product of playing a couple of bad defenses in Ole Miss and South Carolina. Trask announced that he was in the Heisman race to stay.

8. A record-breaking day in the Music City

UF’s 38-17 defeat of Vanderbilt was largely unremarkable. However, Trask threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns, which gave him 31 touchdowns for the season at the time. Those 31 touchdowns established a new SEC record for the most touchdown passes thrown in conference games in a single season.

And he didn’t even need the two extra games created by the league’s decision to play a conference-only schedule this season to do it. He broke the record previously held by LSU’s Joe Burrow and Florida’s Danny Wuerffel in the seventh conference game. Both Burrow and Wuerffel won the Heisman.

7. Clinching the East on Rocky Top

Every Heisman winner needs a championship to his credit, and the Gators’ 31-19 defeat of Tennessee to clinch the SEC East was it for Trask.

He did it almost entirely by himself, as the Gators were only able to muster 19 rushing yards. Trask completed 35 of 49 passes for 434 yards and four touchdowns. Those 35 completions were just one behind Rex Grossman’s school record for completions in a game. He also became the first Gator to record three 400-yard games in a season.

He came through in the clutch and delivered the program its first trip to the SEC Championship Game since 2016.

6. Passing Wuerffel

Gator fans wish they could erase the LSU game from their memories, but it was a historic night for Trask. With his two touchdown tosses, he surpassed Wuerffel’s school record of 39 touchdown passes in a season. That was a record that some thought might never be broken.

Trask also tied his career-high with 474 yards and put Evan McPherson in position to kick a game-tying field goal on the final play. Unfortunately, the Gators came three turnovers, a busted coverage and a thrown shoe short.

5. Electric opener

Most fans and pundits expected Trask and UF’s offense to take a step forward in 2020 after Trask got a full offseason to prepare as the starter. Still, nobody could’ve anticipated the performance they saw in the Gators’ 51-35 defeat of Ole Miss in the season opener.

Trask completed 30 of 42 passes for 416 yards and six touchdowns. He became the sixth Gator – and the first since Chris Leak in 2004 – to throw six touchdown passes in a game. He also tied Burrow’s SEC record for the most touchdown passes in a season opener.

Deep passes outside the numbers and tight-window throws in the red zone were considered two of Trask’s biggest weaknesses entering the season, and he disproved those critics very quickly. Two of his touchdowns came on back-shoulder throws and another came on a perfectly thrown pass into double coverage.

He established himself as a Heisman front-runner right off the bat.

4. Hanging with the Tide

Rarely is a loss in a championship game a “Heisman Moment,” but that’s exactly the case for Trask. He completed 26 of 40 throws for 408 yards and three touchdowns and added a rushing score against Alabama. He became the fifth player in SEC history and the first Gator to eclipse 4,000 passing yards in a season.

Despite trailing by as many as 18 points and having virtually no running game, Trask led the Gators back into the game and came perhaps an onside kick away from winning the game against one of the best defenses in the country.

Sure, it would’ve essentially locked up the Heisman for Trask if he had found a way to win the game, but he did everything he could. He can’t play defense and block for himself.

3. Hog Wild

As the season started to enter its final stages, one of the biggest knocks against Trask as a Heisman contender was the argument that tight end Kyle Pitts, and not Trask, was the engine that made UF’s offense go.

Trask dispelled that theory against Arkansas. With Pitts out after suffering a concussion and a nose injury against Georgia, Trask completed 23 of 29 passes for 356 yards and six touchdowns against the conference’s second-ranked passing defense at the time in the Gators’ 63-35 win. Three of his touchdown passes were from longer than 20 yards out.

With the game well in hand in the second half, chants of “Trask for Heisman” echoed throughout the Swamp. It had all the feelings of a night that won’t soon be forgotten.

2. Down go the Dawgs

Georgia raced out to a 14-0 lead barely three minutes into their game in early November, and it looked like the Bulldogs’ reign of terror over the Gators would continue for another year.

Trask had other ideas. He completed 20 of 26 passes for 341 yards and four scores – in the first half. He finished the night with a career-high 474 yards, which was just eight yards shy of Tim Tebow’s school record. Other than an easy throw to Kemore Gamble on a busted coverage, the rest of his touchdown strikes came on difficult throws against good coverage.

Trask’s huge day propelled the Gators past Georgia for the first time since 2016 and put them back into playoff contention following the loss to Texas A&M.

1. Back-to-back plays wow crowd against Arkansas

With Florida leading Arkansas 14-7 midway through the second quarter, Dan Mullen dialed up a flea-flicker from his own 36-yard line. Dameon Pierce took the handoff from Trask, but pressure up the middle caused his toss back to Trask to hit the ground. Trask calmly picked the ball up and launched it as far as he could down the field right before he got hit. The ball landed in the hands of a backpedaling Xzavier Henderson for a 43-yard gain.

Before the boisterous crowd could fully comprehend and appreciate what they’d just seen, the Gators snapped the ball, and Trask fired a perfectly thrown pass to the opposite side of the field into heavy traffic. Justin Shorter high-pointed the ball, caught it and held on through contact for a 21-yard score.

Prior to that sequence, it felt like Gator fans knew they were watching a very good quarterback, but they didn’t fully understand how good Trask is. Those two plays made it very clear that Trask is one of the best quarterbacks in school history and is deserving of having a statue alongside Steve Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow in the near future.

Tags: Sport

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