10 Observations from the Florida Gators 34-3 win over Tennessee.
Florida is going to be just fine with Kyle Trask at QB
Kyle Trask was the big unknown. The redshirt junior had only played sparingly since arriving in Gainesville in 2016. He’d had opportunities to earn the starting job but for one reason or another — and some injuries — was never able to take the job. He looked good against Tennessee on Saturday night and he showed Florida fans that the season isn’t lost because the starting quarterback went down. Trask is more than talented enough to run Dan Mullen’s offense and run it efficiently.
Kyle Pitts is the player you create in Madden. He’s tall, fast, and has hands big enough to palm a car tire. He showed those hands-off on Trask’s second pass. The ball was high but Pitts reached up, snagged it, turned up the field and scored. The sophomore came into the game with nine receptions and added four more, including his first score of the year, and another 62 yards.
Running game on a milk carton
Florida rushed the ball 37 times for 128 yards against Tennessee. The Vols came into the game giving up an average of 157 yards a game on the ground so Florida came in under passing. Florida continues to find ways to win but they haven’t reached the meat of their schedule yet. They’re not going to be able to be this one-dimensional against Auburn-LSU-Georgia.
Welcome back Marco Wilson
Wilson drew a tough matchup last weekend against Kentucky’s 6-5, 234-pound receiver Ahmad Wagner. Wilson has had some bumps in the road early on as he returns from shoulder surgery but he returned in a big way against Tennessee. Wilson had an interception and tipped a pass that was intercepted by Amari Burney later. Florida has been playing without CJ Henderson for two weeks but Wilson made you forget that on Saturday.
This dude is making money this season. Greenard batted down three passes against Tennessee. He added four tackles, all solo, one sack and two tackles for a loss. On the season that makes 3.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 17 tackles and more than a dozen quarterback hurries. Greenard made the right decision for his future when he chose to come to Gainesville and reunite with Todd Grantham for his final collegiate season.
Affect the quarterback
The Gators came out hot with 10 sacks in the season opener. They were on pace for 90 sacks after two games, which would shatter a school record. They’re not going to get to 90 but this team is relentless in its pursuit to make the opposing quarterback uncomfortable. On Saturday they made Jeremy Pruitt bench his starter. This is a defense that will continue to antagonize quarterbacks all season long.
Hold on to the ball
The turnovers are starting to be a cause for concern. Florida lost three and almost four on Saturday. On the season the Gators have lost nine turnovers. All three turnovers will be credited to Trask Saturday but Dan Mullen really only took exception with the fumbles.
“The interceptions I’m OK with. I mean those are very coachable moments, decision-making. It’s like I said. I’m upset about an interception if he throws a ball and hits a DB in the chest and he was standing there. You’re throwing a corner route and they’re in two-man, he throws the corner, Krull doesn’t get a lot of separation, kid undercuts it, does a nice job, throws it just a little bit short, gets it. He throws a go-route, Trey slides inside against one-high, he stares it down a little too long to give the safety a chance to get over the top. We can fix those. It’s not like, ‘Hey, I just kind of threw it into coverage and threw it blindly.’ The fumbles, though, not good. We’ve got to get those fixed. It wasn’t like any of them were this ridiculous hit or off-balance or any type of those. We’ve got to secure the football when we have it.”
Gouraige looked good
The running game hasn’t been good for long spurts in 2019 but it was good when the Gators put Richard Gouraige into the game and ran behind him. Florida was finally able to put together a string of positive running plays in the same drive and if playing Gouraige is what it takes to make that happen then he needs to play.
Changes coming at running back?
Malik Davis has been the consistent No. 2 running back in the Gators’ offense but that might be changing. Davis fumbled again on Saturday but was lucky that the Tennessee defender who recovered the fumble had a foot out of bounds. It was the second time in only seven carries that Davis put the ball on the ground. As a result, Dameon Pierce took the lion’s share of carries after Perine, finishing with 11 attempts for 39 yards and a touchdown. As we mentioned before the Gators’ running game needs a park and Pierce might be jockeying to be that spark.
The Gators have won 14 of the last 15 and have outscored Tennessee by an average of 14.5 in those 14 wins. They’ve won eight in a row at home against the Vols and have beat Tennessee by 20+ points the last two seasons. Jeremy Pruitt might be a good football coach but he isn’t showing it and the Gators are in a different class than the Vols.
One time for Feleipe Franks
Feleipe Franks is done for the season. He’s having a pretty major surgery on Monday and sources close to Franks have told Gator Country he’s pretty nervous for it all. He’s never had surgery or gone under anesthesia, so there’s a lot on his mind. That didn’t change his Saturday plans. Franks scooted into the stadium early, his foot heavily wrapped and in a cast.
He wheeled on to the field and talked with his teammates. He snapped balls to Kyle Trask while the new starter warmed up and he cheered from the sidelines all afternoon. Franks could have been anywhere in the world on Saturday and nobody would have blamed him. It must have been painful to be on the field and not be able to help but he was there anyway because he’s a Gator and those are his brothers.
Hats off to him.