Another dominating effort by quarterback Kyle Trask lifted the Gators to a 5-0 record, as he was unflappable against the Towson Tigers of the FCS. However, the entire Florida squad was not near-perfect like Trask, as each unit’s grades reveal their blemishes.
Fifteen for fifteen.
No matter what sport you play, if you do something 15 out of 15 times, you made an impressive run. That’s why Kyle Trask’s 15-for-15 start against Towson — even though it’s an FCS opponent — was so masterful to watch.
The quarterback did not need a series to warm up, as his aerial attack sliced through the Tigers’ defense, leading Florida to an opening-drive touchdown.
That first touchdown was executed thanks to tight end Kyle Pitts’ mismatch with a safety five yards from the end zone. The Trask-Pitts connection is very real, as it garnered two more touchdowns on Saturday. And it’s really scary for opposing defenses who have to line up against the 6-foot-6, 240-pound behemoth.
Despite finishing 18 for 20 with 188 yards and two touchdowns, Trask did exhibit his biggest vice: holding onto the football. He operates best when he’s in rhythm, timing his receiver’s routes with his dropbacks. However, he scans the field a little too long before resorting to his check-down or scrambling as shown by Towson’s three sacks.
Emory Jones also ran the offense efficiently, going 6 for 8 and starting the fourth quarter with bullet passes to Jacob Copeland an Tyrie Cleveland for a combined 37 yards.
Later in the drive, Jones hit tight end Keon Zipperer for a screen-pass touchdown. Zipperer, a freshman who is part of UF’s young Lakeland trio of players, showed his strength and athleticism, as he trucked and avoided defenders for three catches for 31 yards.
As far as the run game is concerned, Dameon Pierce showed prowess, as he took just six carries for 84 yards and a touchdown. However, the Gators need to get Lamical Perine going. He’s averaging just 39.4 yards per game, a drastic change from 63.5 from last season.
Yet, the Gators succeeded well against Towson without Perine’s success, reflected by a well-deserved A.
How does a unit that held its opponent to ZERO points earn a barely passing grade? Luck.
Yes, the Florida defense should feel very lucky that it pitched its second shutout of the season, as it allowed the Tigers to move the ball early and often.
Towson quarterback Tom Flacco maneuvered his team just outside of the red zone on his first drive, converting two third downs in the process. However, a fumbled snap recovered by the Gators stifled the crusade.
The Tigers marched to the UF 14 on their next drive, but they were not rewarded for their efforts thanks to a missed 30-yard field goal.
While Florida’s defense shouldn’t have allowed so much offensive success, you have to give the Tigers credit. They executed their play calls well, as Flacco looked-off safeties to open up the middle of the field, found his third and fourth receivers and exploited UF with his running ability.
Wide receiver Shane Leatherbury gave UF corner Trey Dean fits, as he caught all three targets for 57 yards when being covered by Dean.
The defense did cause two interceptions, and freshman Jaydon Hill nearly had a third, but it let Towson be far too comfortable, especially in the first half.
Special Teams: A-
What is up with these short kickoffs by Evan McPherson?
Ideally every kickoff would be a touchback, giving the opponent no chance of return. However, McPherson kicked the ball short of the goal line three times against Towson, which is concerning as he does have a powerful leg. The UF kickoff team did cover these short kicks well, but that may not be the case against higher-quality SEC opponents.
That being said, you have to give McPherson credit for the one field goal he made, a 32-yarder. However, the real star of that play was punter Tommy Townsend, who held the ball steady after a low, ugly snap.
Townsend also pinned the Tigers inside their 10 yard line on his only punt.
Defensive lineman Adam Shuler showed his ability to form a one-man wall on field goals with his blocked kick in the fourth quarter.
Overall, it was a nice day in the critical third phase for Florida, as McPherson’s kickoff woes were really the only negatives.
The grade for coaching could be lower because of how well Towson moved the ball on offense, but I’m going to give Todd Grantham and the defensive staff the benefit of the doubt.
Towson is a well-coached team, and the Gators were missing a lot of players on defense. Preseason All-SEC talents CJ Henderson and Jabari Zuniga were sidelined in order to ensure they’d be healthy against Auburn. Safeties Shawn Davis and Jeawon Taylor were also scratches on Saturday, leaving the centerfield duties up to just Donovan Stiner and Brad Stewart.
With freshmen Kaiir Elam, Chester Kimborough and Jaydon Hill getting a lot of time in the secondary, it’s easy to see why Grantham opted to play a decent amount of zone coverage, However, the UF defensive coordinator included a nice mix of blitzes, having success especially when he brought members of the secondary like Stiner and Dean.
One must admire the offensive play script Mullen started the game with. Trask was in rhythm and got the ball out of his hands quickly from his first completion.
You also have to love the mismatches created by splitting Pitts out wide. Really any position player, whether corner, safety or linebacker, is a mismatch for Pitts, but he’s at his most advantageous when he’s lined up in space against man-to-man coverage.
Sensible play calling and borderline unfair schemes prevailed for the Florida offense Saturday.
Mark Stine is a contributing writer for Chomp Talk. Follow him on Twitter @mstinejr.