We found out what we needed to know. Kyle Trask was ready for his first start, as reflected his box score: 20x28, 293 yards and two touchdowns. It was no fluke. He can run Dan Mullen’s offense. Run it really well. Maybe as well as Feleipe Franks. Maybe better. He has the arm strength, knowledge, leadership and poise.
Here’s the only question from Gator fans for their new starting quarterback: What have you done for us lately, Kyle Trask?
Now that Gator fans know he’s the real deal, they also want to know if he’s good enough to carry their team to the Promised Land. They want him to be Moses. And they want it now.
Welcome to the world of starting quarterbacks at Florida. As Dan Mullen says, it’s different around here.
Some cannibalistic Gator fans have been known to eat their young for breakfast. Ask the three statues: Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow. Ask others who don’t have statues, even though they helped put trophies in the case – namely Shane Matthews and Chris Leak.
The good news is that Trask looks unflappable so far. No moment is likely to ever going to be too big for him. In two games he has two W’s over SEC teams. He appears equal to any occasion, as proven when he came off the bench in Lexington and pitched his team to a fourth-quarter comeback victory with 19 points. But can he make the title run?
Against Tennessee, Dan Mullen praised Trask’s calm demeanor and good decision-making. On his first drive as a starter, his passes were crisp, on time and thrown confidently. Because of his vision and room-service delivery, suddenly the whole middle of the field came into play. This bodes well in the future because Trask finds open receivers. He found 10 different ones in the Vols secondary.
Can he help his team find 10 wins? They only need six more, but three of the next eight are currently Top Ten teams.
Without question, Kyle Trask looks the part. Does he have the chops?
If you like style points, you’re going to love watching the new No. 11 in a Gator uniform. Standing tall and purposeful in the pocket, no happy feet, surveying the secondary and the patterns of his talented receivers, always in rhythm -- even if he occasionally holds the ball a smidgen too long – and delivering it with the grace of a knockdown three-point shooter, dispatching the football into the bottom of their breadbaskets.
In the trade it’s known as a “catchable ball,” which is how Steve Spurrier described Danny Wuerffel’s projectiles. It beholds the eyes of coaches and receivers of all ages.
“Man, I want to catch one of those balls – they’re so pretty!,” Gator Radio Network broadcaster Lee McGriff blurted out on the air, after having watched the touchdown pass he feathered to Freddie Swain. Keep in mind, McGriff was a very good catcher of footballs in high school, college and pro ball and has been on the receiving end of some delicious connections. Watching Trask’s pitches makes him hungry for the touch of football again.
McGriff has been a Trask admirer going back two years ago as began expressing his admiration – careful never to disrespect Mullen’s choice of Feleipe Franks as the starter. Pretty much all the things McGriff have been saying off the mic have come true.
In just over two minutes against Tennessee, Trask posted his first touchdown with a 19-yard pass to Kyle Pitts in what may be henceforth known as the Kyle-to-Kyle connection.
Even McGriff’s radio partner has even bought in. Right away, it became clear that the Florida offense didn’t seem to be struggling anymore as the timely passes of Trask garnered big chunks of yardage. "I don't know how to say this," admitted Mick Hubert, "but why does it seem so much easier?"
To curb the enthusiasm just a little, we should offset the praise with a little reality. There are still plenty of things for Trask to work on.
1. Turnovers. Interceptions sometimes happen because receivers run wrong routes or the ball is tipped, etc. Also when I say he throws a “catchable ball,” remember it’s catchable by the other side, too. Mullen said the two interceptions don’t bother him that much -- but he can’t have the fumbles. Trask has to protect the ball. Steve Spurrier says a QB has to hang on the football with two hands. That wasn’t the case when Trask fumbled to Tennessee.
2. Trask is a very accurate passer, which is the apparent reason they allow him to throw more over the middle. He’s got to be cautious throwing too many high balls, however, because too-tall passes over the middle can be tipped and become Pick City.
3. Timing routes can be a beautiful thing, but the slightest margin of error can lead to a drastic outcome going the other way.
4. We admire quarterbacks who stand in the pocket courageously, willing to take the hit, however Trask has a tendency to hold the ball a little too long.
5. Up until now, opposing teams haven’t had film on Trask. The more games he plays the better body of work defensive coordinators have to study. In the SEC, those guys are good.
Finally, in coming weeks the play-calling will have to mesh better with Trask’s skills, the rest of the offense has to keep improving – the bright light was Brett Heggie being named SEC offensive lineman of the week – and the tepid running game needs to perk up.
The nuances of playing the position will be essential to becoming a more polished quarterback.
“And decision making,” said Mullen. “’When I'm going to take a sack,‘ ‘I'm going to throw this away,’ ‘this play's not there so I'm not going to try to make something happen that's not there.’ All of those things are a lot of experience things so the more experience you get the better you're going to be.”
If planning will make it happen, Mullen has the best quarterback eligible in college football right now.
“You always want to be prepared but three of our next five games against top six teams, top seven teams in the country,” Mullen said. “I don't know many people have that sort of stretch going now. But that's part of being in the Southeastern Conference and that's what's fun to go play in. I think Kyle just needs to continue on the path that he's on.
“Everybody has seen his preparation. He prepares the right way getting into a game and he's going to be ready for that moment. The biggest thing to build on is experience, him being out there in every situation – managing the clock, managing the play clock, making sure he's getting the right checks, being comfortable in how he's using cadence to his advantage, making sure he's got communication with the receivers and offensive line.”
Big Boy Football is coming soon to a neighborhood near us soon. I think Kyle Trask is ready. Bring it.