1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Gators

Florida Gators, Kyle Trask blow out Tennessee 34-3

It didn’t look like Kyle Trask’s first start since he was a freshman in high school.
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, right, throws a pass over Tennessee defensive lineman Matthew Butler (94) during the first half. [JOHN RAOUX | AP]
Published Sep. 21
Updated Sep. 21

GAINESVILLE — As Florida’s offense prepared to take the field for the first time Saturday, Kyle Trask was finally where he wanted to be.

In front of Feleipe Franks.

It took an unfortunate injury, but Trask was there, standing on the sideline with his helmet on, ready to take the first snaps against Tennessee. And there directly behind him was Franks, in sweats, sitting on a medical scooter as he recovers from a dislocated/fractured ankle that will sideline him for the next six months.

“I’ve been waiting for my number to get called,” Trask said. “I knew I was going to be ready…”

He was. Trask threw a pair of touchdown passes to keep No. 9 UF perfect with a 34-3 blowout at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

RELATED: 11 things to know about Florida Gators quarterbacks Kyle Trask, Emory Jones

Trask wasn’t perfect; he lost a fumble on a strip-sack and threw a pair of interceptions into double coverage.

But he was prolific. His 293 yards are nine more than Franks has ever thrown at UF (4-0, 2-0 SEC), and he nearly became the Gators’ first 300-yard passer since Luke Del Rio hit that milestone against Kentucky in 2016.

And most importantly, the redshirt junior was poised despite the crowd (82,776), opponent (alleged rival Tennessee) and circumstances (his first start since was a high school freshman).

“I thought he was relaxed,” coach Dan Mullen said. “You know, he’d never been in that situation before…”

It sure didn’t look like it.

Moments after he ran onto the field while Franks sat behind, Trask dropped back for his first throw. When receiver Trevon Grimes looked back, he saw Trask starting to scramble.

“Usually when a quarterback scrambles,” Grimes said, “he’s trying to get out of bounds.”

Franks often did. Or if he didn’t try to get out, Franks would at least take off running when he began to feel the pressure.

RELATED: Matt Baker’s takeaways from Florida Gators-Tennessee Volunteers

Trask didn’t. Instead of scrambling outside the pocket, he shifted inside it and kept his eyes downfield.

“Kyle always reads the field, scans the field,” Grimes said.

This time, Trask scanned the field all the way to Grimes, his third read. The throw was more of a lob than a Franks-like laser, but it gained 43 yards. Three plays later, Trask hit Kyle Pitts for a 19-yard touchdown.

Barely two minutes into the game, the rout was on.

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) looks for running room against Tennessee. [JOHN RAOUX | AP]

Trask kept reading the field. He mixed his targets, spreading his 20 completions among 10 different players. He knew when to attack soft spots in the middle of the defense.

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

One of Trask’s eight incompletions ended up being one of his best decisions of the day; instead of forcing a risky pass on third and goal in the second quarter, Trask wisely threw the ball away to let UF come away with a field goal.

All the while, Trask stayed calm on the sidelines and on the field.

“He gives us opportunities to run better routes, try to wait a little more because you know he’s going to sit back there and actually wait on us,” Freddie Swain said. “It just gives us a little more confidence.”

Not that UF needed the extra help Saturday.

Tennessee (1-3, 0-1 SEC) is as bad as advertised. The Volunteers lost four turnovers, committed two personal fouls in the first quarter and earned a delay of game penalty coming out of a TV timeout to start the second quarter.

RELATED: Comparing Tennessee football to the Titanic isn’t fair. To the ship.

But after next week’s snoozer against Towson, UF’s schedule heats up with back-to-back top-10 opponents (Auburn, at LSU) before Georgia on Nov. 2. If the Gators are going to make a run at another New Year’s Six bowl or an SEC East title, they need a quarterback who can inspire his teammates.

They thought they had one, until Franks wrecked his ankle last week. It turns out they had another, too.

All Trask needed was the chance to prove it.

Contact Matt Baker at Follow @MBakerTBTimes.


  1. Utah wide receiver Samson Nacua (45) celebrates their victory over UCLA following their NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) RICK BOWMER  |  AP
    From Power Five newcomer to CFP contender, Utah is living the American (Athletic Conference) dream.
  2. BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times
Florida State Seminoles defensive back Asante Samuel Jr. (26) deflects a pass to Florida Gators tight end C'yontai Lewis (80) in the first quarter at Doak Campbell Stadium at Florida State University in Tallahassee on Saturday, November 24, 2018.  "BRONTE WITTPENN  | TIMES"
    The SEC Network will broadcast the annual rivalry meeting.
  3. Florida State Seminoles running back Cam Akers (3) runs the ball down the field in the second quarter against the Florida Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium at Florida State University in Tallahassee on Saturday, November 24, 2018. BRONTE WITTPENN  | TIMES  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES
    How healthy will Cam Akers be? What about Jabari Zuniga?
  4. Alabama sive lineman Alex Leatherwood (70) checks on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) after he was injured in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Alabama won 38-7. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) ROGELIO V. SOLIS  |  AP
    The Florida Gators moved back into Matt Baker’s top 10 this week.
  5. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) is carted off the field after getting injured in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. ROGELIO V. SOLIS  |  AP
    The junior quarterback already was on the mend from surgery four weeks ago for a high ankle sprain.
  6. Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson (12) is pulled down by Missouri defensive back Christian Holmes after catching a pass during the second half in Columbia, Mo. Florida won 23-6. JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP
    The Gators, who led just 6-3 after the second quarter, find more of a rhythm offensively in the second half.
  7. A Florida Gator fans yells during the first half of the Nov. 2 game against Georgia in Jacksonville. The Gators travel to Columbia, Mo. for a noon Saturday game against Missouri. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Here are our picks for this week’s top college football games, including Florida-Missouri, USF-Cincinnati and Florida State-Alabama State.
  8. Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck leads him team on the field prior to an Oct. 26 game against Maryland in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 52-10. STACY BENGS  |  AP
    The last time Minnesota started 9-0 was 1904. Another big event that year involved Cy Young.
  9. Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks poses for a photo with Reyce Ramsey, 9, one of the fans who sent him a get-well card. SCOTT RAMSEY  |  Special to the Times
    When the Florida Gators’ quarterback got hurt at Kentucky, cards came from a 9-year-old in Kissimmee and a retiree in Oldsmar.
  10. Florida tight end Kyle Pitts (84) celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a 15-yard pass reception during the second half against Vanderbilt on Nov. 9 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    The Florida Gators still have a lot to play for, even with a sleepy game in cold Columbia.