Gators reflect on season ahead of facing Oklahoma in Cotton Bowl

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Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 6:24 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Gators football team will be playing their third straight New Year’s Six Bowl appearance as they take on Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl Classic Wednesday night.

The Gators will be without their top four pass catchers in the matchup-- with Gator star tight end Kyle Pitts and senior wide receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney out preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Luckily, Head Coach Dan Mullen and his team are no strangers to adversity this season. While Florida was not crowned SEC champs and they did not secure a spot in the playoffs, they have plenty to be proud of this year. The Gators have rallied together to finish with an 8-3 record.

From a COVID-19 outbreak that sidelined the team for 2 weeks, to playing eight straight weeks, to not seeing their families since July -- these players made plenty of sacrifices in what was a unique 2020 season.

“For our guys, like I said, this season has been like no other,” Mullen said. “I don’t think anybody understands ... obviously, there’s a physical grind and the toll it takes on everybody’s body to play, even to be able to continue to play the season ... and then you add that mental grind on the players.”

With the Gators not having the typical month-or-so after the regular season to rest and prepare before the Bowl game, Mullen said he gave his players as much rest as he could-- turning to virtual scouting reports and virtual preparation through Christmas to “let those guys recover both physically and mentally.”

The head coach says he’s proud of players on both teams making it this far.

“Obviously, any time you have a top ten match-up of two teams, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I know people — that’s why guys go to Florida and Oklahoma ... to play in big-time games. This has been such a trying, crazy year for everybody ... but it’s awesome for these young men at both schools, that they’ve been able to persevere to get to this point and finish out the season playing in this type of a game.”

The Gators will be led by quarterback Kyle Trask, who has been a bright spot for the Gators this season. The quarterback broke plenty of school records and is now a Heisman finalist.

For him and his teammates, they’re just grateful they got the opportunity to put their helmets on and actually play.

“It’s been crazy. I mean, nobody even thought we’d be playing this season. You go back to March and April ... no one knew what was going on in the world ... and just to be able to play a season, especially an all-SEC schedule, it really helped a lot of guys out and gave people across the country opportunities to shine.”

For Trask, this bowl game is even more special as he returns to his home state to play potentially his final game in the gator orange and blue.

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