EGOS ASIDE; MULLEN WILL USE TWO QUARTERBACKS
The Kyle Trask that answered questions Monday afternoon at Florida's weekly press conference was ever so polite. He spoke softly in a most unassuming manner, content to praise his teammates and coaches without drawing attention to himself. If you only go by his press conference demeanor, you'd never guess that he's now the Gators' starting quarterback. Starting quarterbacks tend to have an edge about them, a rather discernible ego. As Dan Mullen pointed out earlier in the afternoon, Chris Leak had one. So did Tim Tebow. Rather big ones, in fact. Mullen said try playing quarterback in the Southeastern Conference if you don't have a healthy ego.
The Trask of Monday afternoon was a real contrast to the Kyle Trask of Saturday night, the one who stuck his head into a fourth quarter defensive huddle at Kroger Field in Lexington where the Gators were trailing the Kentucky Wildcats 21-16. That Kyle Trask told his teammates from the other side of the ball to get the football back because “we're going to score.” A couple minutes later, almost as if Trask had willed it to happen, Shawn Davis intercepted a Sawyer Smith pass to get the ball back for the Gators. And, sure enough, Trask led the Gators to the go-ahead touchdown.
You only do that if you have a combination of confidence in your skills and the ego to know you're just the right guy to get the job done.
Then there was the Kyle Trask who so perfectly executed a jet sweep that at least eight of the 11 Kentucky defenders thought he had the football. By the time they figured out that Josh Hammond had it, Kyle Pitts and Lucas Krull were sealing off a nice alley through which Hammond sprinted, sucking a little more air out of the stadium with every stride while Kentucky's too late to catch him defenders gave chase. As Hammond streaked toward the end zone, Trask sprinted about 40 yards behind him. His arms were raised high above his head. He had a finger raised toward the heavens on each hand.
Purists might say that Trask should have simply trotted to the sideline and allowed teammates to smother him with praise and adulation, but quarterback is the ultimate ego position in all of sports. When you execute a play so perfectly and you carry out the fake after handing the ball off so well that 90% of the folks in the ball yard are fooled, then you deserve to unchain your ego, especially after waiting so patiently for your turn.
Think of Saturday night as the coming out party for Kyle Trask's ego. He will need lots of ego moving forward because he is going to be Florida's starting quarterback against Tennessee (1-2, 0-0 SEC) Saturday due to the horrendous injury (dislocated and fractured ankle) Feleipe Franks suffered against Kentucky. But there is a minor little detail about taking over as the starter. Per Mullen, Emory Jones is also going to play so while Trask may start, he might have to share some of the QB load.
Asked if that is a problem, replied, “We’re here to do what’s best for the team. Whatever we need to do, we’ll do whatever the coaches ask. When our number’s called, I’m sure we’ll produce.”
That wasn't an ego-less answer but the answer of a player who has framed his ego by what the team needs to win, which is a good thing considering Mullen seems to believe a two-headed monster at QB might be just what the Gators need to remain in contention in the SEC East.
With Trask Mullen gets a pure passer who has adequate but not spectacular running skills. EJ is an adequate passer who has speed and make-you-miss elusiveness as a runner. If Mullen can somehow find balance in the way he uses the two, he might be able to force opposing defensive coordinators to spend sleepless nights on the sofa preparing for quarterbacks with different skill sets sort of the way he did back in 2006 when he was Florida's offensive coordinator using both Leak and Tebow.
It's not like they were without egos.
“We handled it in 2006 with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow,” Mullen said. “I mean great people. I mean really great guys and good people but they both have pretty big egos. To do what they do out there, if you don't, you're not going to survive.”
Florida not only survived accommodating Leak's passing and Tebow's Csonka-like blasts between the tackles in the running game, but the Gators won a national championship. This isn't to say the Gators are going to win the 2019 national championship with Trask and EJ splitting up time at QB, but Mullen thinks it will give the Gators their best chance to win with nine regular season games remaining on the schedule.
As for any criticism he might get from playing two quarterbacks, Mullen said the only real downside is if Trask and Jones start listening to too many people on the outside.
“The key is that everybody knows what's going on,” Mullen said. “Unfortunately, people outside of the room don't know what's going on or don't know the plan so they can say 'oh this' or 'oh that!' Or 'boy you should have done this' or 'boy you should have done that.' How do you know what we're supposed to do. I never saw you in our game planning meetings. That's kind of how it goes. As long as we're all on the same page, we're good.”
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
#2 Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC): Alabama is awaiting further testing to determine if D-lineman LaBryan Ray will be able to return this season. He's dealing with a foot/ankle injury. Saturday: vs. Southern Miss (2-1)
Arkansas (2-0, 0-1 SEC): Center Zach Williams will miss a couple of games with a knee injury and linebacker Bumper Pool is listed day-to-day with an injured clavicle. D-lineman Jamario Bell should be back Saturday for San Jose State. Saturday: vs. San Jose State (1-1)
#8 Auburn (3-0, 0-0 SEC): When Patrick Nix, dad of Auburn freshman QB Bo Nix, played quarterback at Auburn, his position coach was current Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher … Auburn is a 4-point underdog Saturday in College Station against the Aggies. Saturday: at #16 Texas A&M (2-1, 0-0 SEC)
#3 Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC):It's still day-to-day for offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson (6-7, 340), who has missed the last two games after spraining his ankle against Vandy. Saturday: vs. #7 Notre Dame (2-0)
Kentucky (2-1, 0-1 SEC): Asked if he would comment on having two players ejected from the loss to Florida due to targeting calls, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops replied, “No, I don't want to part with $50,000.” That's the fine for coaches publicly complaining about officials in the Southeastern Conference. Saturday: at Mississippi State (2-1, 0-0 SEC)
#4 LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC): Safety Todd Harris will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in the Tigers' win over Northwestern State … LSU expects to have offensive lineman Ed Ingram cleared to return to football in the next couple of days. He's been suspended since last season after a sexual assault accusation. Saturday: at Vanderbilt (0-2)
Mississippi State (2-1, 0-0 SEC): Quarterback Tommy Stevens (shoulder) is listed day-to-day. If he can't go Saturday, true freshman Garrett Shrader will get the start. Keytaon Thompson is injured and won't be able to go. Saturday: vs. Kentucky (2-1, 0-1 SEC)
Missouri (2-1, 0-0 SEC): Are the numbers from last Saturday's win over Southeast Missouri State subliminally telling us something? The 50-0 win was Mizzou's 500thwin at Memorial Stadium. Saturday: vs. South Carolina (1-2, 0-1 SEC)
Ole Miss (2-1, 1-0 SEC): Expect freshman running back Jerrion Ealy to see the ball more in the offense Saturday. He had nine carried (95 yards) and two receptions (21 yards) in the win over Southeastern Louisiana. Saturday: vs. #23 California (3-0)
South Carolina (1-2, 0-1 SEC): In the loss to Alabama, South Carolina attempted a fake punt, a fake field goal and an onsides kick. Saturday: at Missouri (2-1, 0-0 SEC)
Tennessee (1-2, 0-0 SEC): Corner Bryce Thompson, arrested during the summer after making threats to “shoot up the school” during an altercation with his girlfriend, is practicing but HBC Jeremy Pruitt says he is undecided whether or not Thompson will play Saturday against the Gators. Saturday: at #9 FLORIDA (3-0, 1-0 SEC)
#16 Texas A&M (2-1, 0-0 SEC): Running back Deneric Pierce, who has yet to carry the ball this season, has reportedly entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal. Saturday: vs. #8 Auburn (3-0, 0-0 SEC)
Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1 SEC):The Vanderbilt pass defense, which was torched for 509 yards and five touchdowns in the loss to Purdue a couple of weeks ago, will be tasked with trying to stop LSU QB Joe Burrow Saturday. All Burrow has done is throw for 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns in three games so far. Saturday: vs. #4 LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC)
ALL TOO EARLY HEISMAN CONTENDERS
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma: 49-61 passing for 880 yards (14.4 per attempt), nine TDPs, 0 picks; 38-373 rushing (9.82 per carry) for four touchdowns.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: 70-91 passing for 1,007 yards (11.1 per attempt), 12 TDPs, 0 picks; one rushing TD.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: 35-237 rushing (6.77 per carry) for five touchdowns; 5-65 receiving for three touchdowns.
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU: 70-95 passing for 1,122 yards (12.5 per attempt), 11 TDPs, two picks; one rushing TD.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: 59-97 passing for 831 yards (8.6 per attempt), five TDPs, five picks; three rushing touchdowns.
Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia: 42-56 passing for 601 yards (10.7 per attempt); five TDPs, 0 picks.
Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas: 82-112 passing for 956 yards (8.5 per attempt), 11 TDPs, 0 picks; 32-121 rushing (3.78 per carry) for one touchdown; one reception for eight yards.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: 52-74 passing for 657 yards (8.9 per attempt), nine TDPs, 0 picks; 25-114 rushing (4.56 per carry) for four touchdowns.
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: 77-105 passing for 868 yards (8.3 per attempt) for 11 TDPs, 0 picks.
GOOD QUOTES FOR TUESDAY
From Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network on Saturday's Notre Dame-Georgia game in Athens:
“I don’t know how anyone in their right mind believes Notre Dame can win this game. Georgia is one of the more complete teams in the country, Notre Dame is not. They have a good quarterback, but they have so many missing aspects, and again the Notre Dame fans want to tilt their collective nose toward the sky, and act like the world of college football revolves around them, it doesn’t. Notre Dame is barely relevant in the conversation of college football powers.”
From Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated on the investigation into wide receiver Antonio Brown's long list of off the field problems:
“SI conducted interviews with more than two dozen people who have employed, worked for, coached, or played alongside Brown – some who have taken legal action against him, and others who have not – and reviewed police and court documents from jurisdictions ranging from Miami to Pittsburgh to Oakland. In a half-dozen lawsuits, he is accused of refusal to pay wages to former assistants and part-time employees. Court documents and interviews also suggest a pattern of disturbing, sometimes bizarre behavior – including, SI has learned, a second woman’s allegations of sexual misconduct by Brown.”
From Stewart Mandel of The Athletic on Georgia as the Bulldogs prep for Saturday night's matchup with Notre Dame in Athens:
“Though Georgia doesn’t face nearly the degree of skepticism Notre Dame does, a large segment of the public is still waiting to be convinced. They’ve watched the otherwise dominant Dawgs lose to Alabama in excruciating fashion two seasons in a row, while also laying the occasional egg against an Auburn (40-17 loss in 2017) or Texas (last year’s 28-21 Sugar Bowl loss). Oh, and also, they haven’t won a national title since 1980 – eight years farther back than even Notre Dame.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS:At halftime of last Saturday night's loss to Texas, the Rice marching band trolled the Texas team GPA by forming a 2.89 on the field. Rice is one of the more difficult schools to get into and out of in all of Division I football with an average freshman SAT score of 1535 … Ben Roethlisberger will have elbow surgery so his season is over. The Pittsburgh Steelers will turn QB over to Mason Rudolph … Drew Brees will have surgery on his thumb and will miss six weeks. The New Orleans Saints will rely on Teddy Bridgewater … The Miami Dolphins traded DB Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers for a 2020 first round draft pick. For Fitzpatrick it must seem like being delivered from hell … Former Gator Alex Anzalone will miss a minimum of eight weeks after the Saints put him on injured reserve Monday.