Dan Mullen: Gators QB Kyle Trask’s 6 TD day a ‘unique deal’

Tribune Content Agency

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF coach Dan Mullen built his reputation coaching quarterbacks, but none of them ever had a day like Kyle Trask just did at Ole Miss.

Trask’s six touchdown passes Saturday were a career high for him — and for Mullen.

Alex Smith, Dak Prescott and Tim Tebow came close, with five scoring tosses apiece. Tebow once totaled seven TDs — five rushing.

A No. 1 draft pick, NFL Rookie of the Year and Heisman winner — and Mullen’s biggest success stories at QB — now take a back seat on the stat sheet to Trask and his golden arm.

“It does say a lot about him,” Mullen said of Trask. “I’ve had some pretty good quarterbacks over the years, so that’s pretty unique deal.”

Trask’s day actually could have been better. Mullen pointed out his quarterback missed his chance for a school record-tying seventh score.

Trask failed to pull the trigger quickly enough to connect with Trent Whittemore on a corner route, leaving UF to settle for a field goal.

The play was one Trask would have liked to have had back on a day he finished 30-of-42 passing — despite at least five drops — for 416 yards, the most by a UF signal caller during an SEC game since Rex Grossman in 2001.

But there were more missed opportunities than one might think.

“There’s a lot of things he can get better at,” Mullen said of Trask. “We went through them on the film.”

This push for perfection keeps Trask hungry as the No. 3 Gators (1-0) prepare to host South Carolina (0-1) at noon Saturday in the Swamp. The game will air nationally on ESPN.

The redshirt senior’s low-key personality and long journey to reach this point keep him grounded as his stock rises.

“It’s probably just how I was raised, to not really give into anything until it’s actually finished,” Trask said.

The Gators entered the season with big goals and an experienced cool-headed quarterback to lead the way amid a pandemic.

Even so, Trask and the offense appear to be ahead of schedule following the Gators’ second 50-point showing against Ole Miss.

“I think it’s a little bit of having veteran players that are still able to throw and catch, so you’re a little bit ahead,” Mullen said. “I certainly hope we continue to improve offensively. We didn’t come out to peak in Week 1. I expect the offense to get better.”

Trask believes it can and will.

The Gators scored on nine of 11 offensive possessions. But the offense thrice settled for field goals, including a 55-yarder by Evan McPherson — the longest at UF since 2011.

“We’re just doing our best to score every time we have the ball,” Trask said. “That’s our goal every single time we step onto the field as an offense.”

The goal might be more worthy than realistic. Yet Trask and the Gators are going to apply constant pressure on a defense to stop them.

“A lot of the credit goes to him,” Mullen said. “Where he went with the ball, and how fast he made those decisions. And how to get it to the right player.”

The utter dominance of tight end Kyle Pitts gives Trask a weapon few quarterbacks can turn to in a crunch. Coming off a four-touchdown day, the 6-foot-6, 246-pound junior will open up opportunities for the Gators’ wide array of playmakers.

When the dust settled at Ole Miss, senior receivers Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes also caught touchdown passes while 11 players in all had receptions. Big things are expected from, among other playmakers, Whittemore, Penn State transfer Justin Shorter and top recruit Xzavier Henderson. The trio combined for just six catches for 43 yards during their first game at UF.

“I definitely feel like we’ve always had this explosive ability, especially with all the weapons we have,” Trask said. “If you double one person, you’ll have a mismatch somewhere else on the field.”

Until recently, though, the Gators did not have the quarterback to deliver the football on a consistent basis.

Trask now has five 300-yard games and 30 touchdown throws in 11 college starts. Expect those numbers to grow exponentially this season as he and the offense continue to gain confidence.

One thing Mullen expects to remain in check is Trask’s ego, no matter how many touchdowns he throws. Just a year ago, the 22-year-old was a virtual unknown finally getting his chance.

The Heisman buzz Trask generated Saturday surely won’t lead to overconfidence.

“He’s a guy who’s worked really hard to put himself in this position,” Mullen said. “He’s been on the big stage — it’s not too big for him. I think he understands and respects the position he’s in and doesn’t take it for granted.

“So I think that’s going to be the biggest thing.”


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