Kyle Trask, Florida continue record setting ways with 38-17 victory over Vanderbilt
Trask sets SEC record for most passing touchdowns through first seven games
Nashville, Ten. (WCJB) - Falling behind to the Commodores is never a comforting feeling, but for Kyle Trask and the Florida offense, it lit a fire that helped them score 24 unanswered points en route to a 38-17 win over Vanderbilt, Saturday.
After needing just 8 plays to cover 76 yards and score the tying touchdown on their opening possession, the sixth-ranked Gators needed a spark on offense.
The winless Commodores lead 10-7 with 2:45 remaining in the first quarter, and forced Florida to punt on back-to-back possessions.
“I don’t know that we had our best week of practice this week. Not attitude-wise, I just kind of thought we were a little bit blah a couple of the days, two of the days, a couple days of the practice, not as sharp, not as crisp with everything we were doing,” said Gators Head Coach Dan Mullen.
“That was kind of top to bottom. I think at times we came out here and played. It was kind of we had a good day and then a bad day, a good day and then a bad day of practice this week, and it kind of looked that way offensively and defensively.”
While it took most of the second quarter before Evan McPherson could finally even the score with a 32-yard field goal, it was the falling domino that started Florida’s offense barrage.
With just under a minute before halftime, Kyle Trask threw a jump-ball into double coverage for Trevon Grimes, who was able to haul it in for a 34-yard touchdown to give the Gators their first lead of the game, 17-10.
“I saw Trevon had a good matchup on the outside and I just tried to throw it up to him and give him a shot,” said Gators Quarterback Kyle Trask. “I know he’s a great player that can catch balls over anybody, so I really just had to give him a shot and he made a great play.”
“Great ball placement,” said Mullen. “Where you want to put that ball where the defense doesn’t have a chance you’re going to have to make a spectacular catch and Tre has the size and the athleticism and then the ball skills to go make that play.”
The late score was Trask’s second passing touchdown of the game, which saw him set another South Eastern Conference record by becoming the first quarterback to throw 30 touchdowns in his first seven games of a season.
Trask finished the game 26-35 for 383 yards, with 3 touchdowns. He now has 31 touchdowns on the season compared to just 3 interceptions.
His 2,544 passing yards through the team’s first seven games this season are more than any Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in college football history, other than BYU’s Ty Detmer (2,977 1990) and Houston’s Andre Ware (2,930 in 1989).
With the lead in hand, Florida methodically bludgeoned Vanderbilt’s defense on the opening possession of the second half, which saw Dameon Pierce cap off a 12-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Pierce’s third rushing touchdown of the season gave Florida the cushion they wanted, 24-10.
After Trask connected with Kemore Gamble on a 2-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-10, redshirt sophomore Emory Jones came in for Trask and connected with Gamble for a 30-yard touchdown to cement the Gators run of 24 unanswered points.
“It’s something Coach Mullen’s told us, he’s been on championship teams and sometimes they came out flat but they still found a way to win,” said Gators quarterback Kyle Trask. “And obviously we came out pretty flat, obviously you want to start off faster than that, but at the end of the day we found a way to win and that’s all that matters.”
Saturday’s 38-17 win was the ninth consecutive game Florida has scored 35 or more points, which is a school record.
“I have a smile on my face,” said Mullen. “You never take a win for granted. It’s hard to win football games. You’re playing a 10-game SEC schedule. I’m fired up. I was really proud of how our guys actually played today. We stubbed our toe along the way and we still come out with a 21-point victory with the game in hand most of the .. basically the whole second half.”
The previous record was eight straight games by the 1996 and 2008 teams, who went on to win the National Championship.
While the defense will get its fair share of criticism for looking sloppy and allowing a few third down conversions early, it deserves credit for forcing Vanderbilt to punt on five consecutive possessions after they took the lead, 10-7.
On top of that, the defense held the Commodores to under 100 rushing yards, which is only the second time Florida’s done that this season.
It wasn’t the prettiest win the Gators have had this season, but it did reveal a key characteristic of this team - it won’t quit.
“I’m really pleased with our guys finding a way to win and suck it up and be good enough to win and make the plays we need to to win despite not playing at our top, our best for the entire game,” said Mullen.
That’s the kind of trait championship teams possess. It becomes very easy to get down and lose hope or momentum when you’re behind and haven’t brought your fastball early, but credit coach Mullen and the team for finding that extra gear they needed to push through and outlast a hungry Vanderbilt.
-With Kyle Pitts still sidelined from facial surgery Junior Tight End Kemore Gamble filled in seamlessly - he finished the game with three catches for 66 yards, including two touchdown receptions.
-Kadarius Toney led all Gators receivers with a career high six catches for 107 yards and a touchdown reception. The senior wide receiver continues to raise eyebrows of NFL scouts with his various abilities to find the endzone in a variety of ways.
-The Gator rushing attack racked up 173 yards as a unit, including four different rushers recording double-digit days. Dameon Pierce led the pack with 11 carries for 55 yards and a score.
-The Gator defense only recorded two sacks, but Kaiir Elam notched his second interception of the season.
Sign of Trouble:
-Florida’s secondary allowed Vanderbilt’s true freshman quarterback Ken Seals to complete nine passes of 15 yards or more.
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