A YEAR AGO WE GOT OUR FIRST REAL GLIMPSE OF KYLE TRASK
There were five minutes left in the third quarter against Missouri a year ago when Dan Mullen elected to send in Kyle Trask for an ineffective Feleipe Franks. Coming off a Georgia game in which he was indecisive and unable to move the football in the fourth quarter, Franks never could get it going against Missouri, which led 35-10 when Mullen brought in Trask. Franks finished his day 9-22 passing for 84 yards, an abysmal 3.81 per pass attempt.
These would be the first significant playing time of Trask's college football career. He had four passes (all completions for 36 yards) to show for three years at UF when he entered the game. He immediately led the Gators on a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in a seven-yard touchdown pass to Josh Hammond on a crossing pattern. On the drive, Trask went 5-8 for 59 yards. In the fourth quarter, Trask couldn't put any points on the scoreboard but he completed 5-10 passes for 67 yards, finishing the game 10-18 for 126 yards. His 7.0 per attempt was a vast improvement over Franks.
That performance led to speculation that Trask would be the starter the following week against South Carolina but that notion was quashed at practice on Tuesday when Trask broke a bone in his foot. “It was some trick play we were running early on in practice and no one hit me and just planted my foot wrong and my foot popped and that was that,” Trask said Monday.
What Trask did last season against Missouri now seems like it was a foreshadowing of things to come. When he entered the Missouri game, Trask didn't seem the least bit overwhelmed by the circumstances. Missouri blitzed and did its best to overwhelm him with new looks. If he was flustered we never saw it. Since taking over for Franks, who dislocated and fractured his ankle late in the third quarter of the Kentucky game, Trask has seen just about every exotic blitz imaginable as defensive coordinators do their best to exploit the fact he never started a high school game and sat for three years before getting his opportunity. The more they blitz and try to confuse him, however, the better, it seems, Trask performs.
Now here we are a year later and Trask is once again facing Missouri only this time as a starter who has already earned his campaign ribbons. In the seven games he's started, Trask has thrown at least two touchdown passes, the best run for a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow had two or more in the final 10 games of Florida's march to the 2008 national championship. Trask has thrown for 2,011 yards, hitting 68% of his passes for 8.4 yards per attempt and 19 touchdowns.
Looking back on what happened a year ago, Trask seems genuinely humbled by the fact he's gotten a second chance.
“That was a big time in my career because I felt like that was the first time [Missouri game] that I got meaning ful snaps and obviously it was tough to be competing to play and then get hurt,” Trask said Monday. “It's football. Stuff happens. I think it's made me stronger as a person over time, though.”
GATORS DROP ONE SPOT IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF POLL
There is too much football remaining to be played for anyone to be concerned that the Gators (8-2, 5-2 SEC) dropped one spot to #11 in the College Football Playoff Poll released Tuesday night. Florida dropped one spot because Minnesota moved up nine places to #8 on the strength of its win over Penn State, which dropped from #4 to #9. That pushed Oklahoma, Florida and Auburn down one spot.
The Gators have two remaining games – at Missouri (5-4, 2-4 SEC) and Florida State (5-4) – on the regular season schedule, games the Gators should win to finish 10-2. Since there are so many rivalry still to be played, the top ten is likely to change shape two or three more times. If the Gators simply win their last two, that should secure a high enough finish for a second straight New Year's Six bowl.
On the strength of their 46-41 win over Alabama and four wins over then top 10 ranked teams, LSU stormed ahead of last week's #1 Ohio State into the top spot. Clemson moved up two spots to #3 and Georgia moved to two spots to #4 with Alabama dropping two places to #5.
The College Football Playoff Poll (1) LSU 9-0; (2) Ohio State 9-0; (3) Clemson 10-0; (4) Georgia 8-1; (5) Alabama 8-1; (6) Oregon 8-1; (7) Utah 8-1; (8) Minnesota 9-0; (9) Penn State 8-1; (10) Oklahoma 8-1; (11) FLORIDA 8-2; (12) Auburn 7-2; (13) Baylor 9-0; (14) Wisconsin 7-2; (15) Michigan 7-2; (16) Notre Dame 7-2; (17) Cincinnati 8-1; (18) Memphis 8-1; (19) Texas 6-3; (20) Iowa 6-3; (21) Boise State 8-1; (22) Oklahoma State 6-3; (23) Navy 7-1; (24) Kansas State 6-3; (25) Appalachian State 8-1
Thinking ahead: I think LSU, Ohio State and Clemson run the table. I think Georgia might lose on the road at Auburn this weekend and then get destroyed by LSU in the SEC Championship Game. I think Oregon probably wins the Pac-12 and will make a case for the fourth spot with a 12-1 record. I think Utah could lose to UCLA this weekend and will definitely lose to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game. I can see Minnesota losing either at Iowa this weekend or against Wisconsin in the last regular season game and definitely against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. I wouldn't be shocked if Penn State loses to Indiana this weekend, but definitely to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. I think Oklahoma finishes 12-1 as the Big 12 champ but won't be able to explain away that loss to Kansas State. I think if Florida wins its last two games, the Gators will finish somewhere around #8 and will be an easy choice for a New Years Six game.
Now, about Alabama. The only way I see Alabama making the playoff is if Oregon and Utah both have two losses. I can't see the committee choosing Alabama with its weak schedule and no conference championship over a conference champ like Oregon providing Oregon finishes with only one loss.
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF (College Football Playoff Poll Rankings) #5 Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC): Mississippi State probably needs to tighten the jock straps and double buckle the chin straps for Saturday after Alabama dropped to #5 in the College Football Playoff Poll. Expect Alabama to pour it on from bell-to-bell. Saturday: at Mississippi State (4-5, 2-4 SEC)
Arkansas (2-7, 0-6 SEC): Since Chad Morris was fired, seven recruits have decommitted including quarterback Chandler Morris, son of the fired coach. Chandler Morris is rated the #13 dual threat QB in the recruiting class of 2020. Saturday: Open
#12 Auburn (7-2, 4-2 SEC): Asked if he had an interest in taking the Arkansas job, HBC Gus Malzahn answered, “I love Auburn. Like I've said in the past, we have a bright future here. Nothing has changed.” If he beats Georgia this week and Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Auburn people will love him too.
Saturday: vs. #4 Georgia (8-1, 5-1 SEC)
#4 Georgia (8-1, 5-1 SEC): Center Trey Hill and wide receiver Lawrence Cager were both full participants in Tuesday's practice. Corner Tyrique McGhee, out since the Kentucky game October 19, is still not practicing. Saturday: at #12 Auburn (7-2, 4-2 SEC)
Kentucky (4-5, 2-5 SEC): With a win over Vanderbilt Saturday and over D1AA UT-Martin the following week, the Wildcats can become bowl eligible for the fourth straight year. The school record is five consecutive bowl seasons (2006-10). Saturday: at Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5 SEC)
#1 LSU (9-0, 5-0 SEC): Quarterback Joe Burrow, who may have nailed down the Heisman Trophy with his performance against Alabama last Saturday, was named the Maxwell Award Player of the Week for the second time this season. Saturday: at Ole Miss (4-6, 2-4 SEC)
Mississippi State (4-5, 2-4 SEC): To have a chance against Alabama, HBC Joe Moorhead says the Bulldogs “have to do the ordinary extraordinarily well.” Saturday: vs. #5 Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC)
Missouri (5-4, 2-4 SEC): Quarterback Kelly Bryant (hamstring) took all the reps at practice Tuesday and is expected to play Saturday against Florida. “Fully expect him to play and play well – unless there's a set back,” said HBC Barry Odom. Saturday: vs. #11 FLORIDA (8-2, 5-2 SEC)
Ole Miss (4-6, 2-4 SEC): The Ole Miss defense, which gets its toughest test of the season against LSU Saturday, has improved in nearly every category this year. Last year the Rebels ranked #121 nationally. This season they're #71 and they've reduced points allowed by nearly 13 per game to 23.9. Saturday: vs. #1 LSU (9-0, 5-0 SEC)
South Carolina (4-6, 3-4 SEC): Running back Tavien Feaster (groin) and wide receivers OrTre Smith (knee) and A.J. Turner (hamstring) are listed “questionable to doubtful” by HBC Will Muschamp. Saturday: at Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2 SEC)
Tennessee (5-5, 3-3 SEC): Tennessee can trace some of its improvement this season to a better pass defense. The Vols gave up 21 touchdown passes and intercepted only nine passes last year in 12 games. Through nine games this year the Vols have allowed only 11 touchdown passes and have picked off 14 passes, which ties Florida for the SEC lead. Saturday: Open
Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2 SEC): The Aggies are holding opponents to just 5.9 yards per pass attempt. The last three opponents are a combined 38-86 (44.1%) for 487 yards. Saturday: vs. South Carolina (4-6, 3-4 SEC)
Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5 SEC): Quarterback Riley Neal, who missed the Florida game while under concussion protocol, is expected to get the start Saturday against Kentucky. Neal is 109-186 passing for 1,193 yards (6.4 per attempt) and six touchdowns this season. Saturday: vs. Kentucky (4-5, 2-5 SEC)
SEC BASKETBALL STUFF
#21 Xavier 63, Missouri (2-1) 58, OT Evansville 67, #1 Kentucky (2-1) 64 Georgia (2-0) 95, The Citadel 86 Ole Miss (2-0) 68, Norfolk State 55 Arkansas (2-0) 66, North Texas 43 #22 Auburn (3-0) 70, South Alabama 69 Tennessee (2-0) 82, Murray State 63
#23 LSU (2-0) at Virginia Commonwealth
GOOD QUOTES FOR WEDNESDAY Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network on Alabama's defensive breakdowns: “We've had two consequential games for Nick Saban. He's played Clemson and he's played this one (LSU). He got shredded by Clemson by 28 points. He was getting blown out in the first half here. You have to start wondering when he could rebuild this defense. Now it's patchwork. I's not going to happen this year.”
College Football Playoff Committee Chairman Rob Mullens on why Georgia jumped Alabama for a top four spot in the poll released Tuesday evening: “Georgia, with wins against both Florida and Notre Dame, put them at No. 4 in the rankings this week. The committee spent a lot of time comparing Georgia and Alabama. In the end, Georgia's two wins over ranked teams made the difference in the No. 4 spot. Alabama clearly is a strong team, but the committee gave the edge to Georgia.”
Former LSU All-American and SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears speaking to Stephen A. Smith on ESPN's “Get Up” morning show. Smith picked Alabama to beat LSU last week: “I noticed you're not in New York today, and I know you got a hundred jobs. I wanted you to be here today, Big Bro. Today is the day I needed you to be in New York so I could throw you in the Hudson [to] swim with the fishes.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Gator Vernon Hargreaves III was released by the Tampa Bay Bucs for what HBC Bruce Arians deemed a lack of hustle against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. In reality it was probably about the money. By releasing Hargreaves the Bucs don't have to pay him the remainder of a contract that would pay him $9 million if he made it through the entire schedule ... Colin Kaepernick, who hasn't taken a snap since the 2016 season, will hold a private workout in Atlanta Saturday. Even with some of the bad play at quarterback in the NFL this season, I would be surprised if anyone takes a chance on a QB who hasn't been in film rooms and throwing regularly in NFL practices in three-plus seasons.