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Florida Gators to use Kyle Trask and Emory Jones with Feleipe Franks out

Could Trask-Jones be the next Chris Leak-Tim Tebow? “We’ll see,” Dan Mullen says.
Quarterback Kyle Trask (11) winds up to pass during the third quarter of the Orange and Blue Debut at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. [TAMPA BAY TIMES]
Published Sep. 16

GAINESVILLE — With Feleipe Franks out six months after dislocating and fracturing his ankle Saturday, No. 9 Florida won’t replace him with one quarterback.

The Gators will replace him with two.

Veteran backup Kyle Trask —who starred off the bench in the comeback at Kentucky — will share reps with blue-chip redshirt freshman Emory Jones, coach Dan Mullen said Monday.

RELATED: Florida Gators wait was worth it for Kyle Trask

“I expect us to play both guys, in combination, for several different reasons,” Mullen said.

The first reason: They have very different skillsets.

Trask can move and is hard to bring down at 6-foot-5, 234 pounds. But he prefers to pass, and his career completion percentage (67.5) is tops on the team.

Jones can throw, too, but he’s a dynamic runner. That’s why UF used a specialty package for him last season and had one ready to go last week at Kentucky (although the Gators never called it).

Quarterback Emory Jones (14) carries during a drill at Florida Gators spring football practice on March 16, 2018. (MONICA HERNDON | Times) [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]

Their varying abilities will allow the Gators to attack Tennessee in multiple ways by catering specific plays for each player, or by forcing the Volunteers to defend the same play differently depending on who takes the snap. Mullen even mentioned the possibility of putting both on the field at the same time.

“Some little different things we might try just to see as those guys grow and get comfortable,” Mullen said.

Attaining that comfort is another reason why UF plans to use both passers this weekend and beyond. Before last weekend, Trask had taken no significant collegiate snaps, and he hasn’t started a game since his freshman year at Texas’ Manvel High. Jones’ only meaningful numbers are eight combined rushes last season against Michigan and Georgia.

RELATED: Why backup quarterback Kyle Trask didn’t leave the Florida Gators

Although both quarterbacks have plenty of reps from practice, both need game experience to continue developing.

“You went from having two experienced backups to two inexperienced starters…” Mullen said. “Every time both have been in the game they’ve performed at a pretty high level for us. You’re comfortable with that, but now it’s a little different role and you got to get them both ready to go.”

UF, of course, has a history of using multiple quarterbacks. Steve Spurrier did it 22 years ago with Doug Johnson and Noah Brindise. Urban Meyer (with Mullen on his staff) did it in 2006. Could Trask-Jones become the new Chris Leak-Tim Tebow?

“We’ll see,” Mullen said. “Emory is much further along than Tim would have been in ’06.”

McElwain on Trask

Trask’s strong effort at Kentucky didn’t surprise the coach who recruited the unheralded three-star recruit to UF.

“I know he’s going to make the most of his opportunity,” former UF coach Jim McElwain said Monday. “Kyle gets his chance to do what he does best. I think what that is, is really having a command of the offense and getting the ball to the people who make it happen.”

RELATED: Jim McElwain: Florida Gators’ Kyle Trask will ‘make the most of his opportunity’

McElwain, now the head coach at Central Michigan, isn’t surprised, either, that Trask stayed at UF instead of entering the transfer portal. Trask was stuck on the bench behind current Houston star D’Eriq King in high school, but he remained loyal. That, McElwain said, was “one of the things that really attracted us to him.”

“I think he’s a guy that once he commits to something, he sees it through,” McElwain said.

Huggins details

Former UF defensive back John Huggins received a deferred suspension of 3 ½ semesters after he was accused of putting his hands on the neck of a tutor last October, according to records obtained Monday by the Tampa Bay Times through an open-records request.

Huggins was found responsible for “endangering behavior” which includes “unwanted physical contact causing physical injury” or other conduct that could “endanger the healthy, safety, or welfare” of someone. “Education outcomes” were also listed as a punishment for Huggins, who has since transferred to Robert Morris.

The Times requested the documents on Aug. 8.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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