With the conclusion of another season of Florida football looming, there’s no better time to reflect on the year than now.
Back in August, would we have said Florida would enter their second to last regular season game with two losses?
LSU and Georgia were the only real question marks I saw on Florida’s schedule when the year began — admittedly, Auburn became a question mark for me personally. But I think we can all agree that LSU and Georgia always bring a heaping serving of anxiousness for Florida fans when they take the field.
So, no, I won’t call the two losses surprising. I wouldn’t call Florida’s position heading into Missouri shocking.
However, given the cards they’ve been dealt? I’m floored.
Skipping down memory lane, can you recall when you saw Feleipe Franks fold like a lawn chair under a pile of 300+ linemen?
That was my first thought. Yikes because the injury was gruesome. But also yikes because it looked like Kentucky was going to start a streak of their own.
And an additional yikes because Florida’s season was in major limbo — all thanks to one play.
Well, we now know that only one of those “yikes” was justified — Franks’ injury was indeed gruesome.
But my other doubts were tossed out of the window by some big, brawny blonde kid.
Kyle Trask – the Manvel, Texas native known for his preparation, patience and precision.
Since his time in high school, Trask backed up someone better than him. That’s what he was told, at least — that they were better.
Meanwhile, Kyle was doing everything but keeping the bench warm.
As former Florida quarterback Austin Appleby, recalls, he would find Trask, then a freshman, in the depths of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium watching film in the quarterback room.
Trask rarely saw the football field his freshman year. So when Appleby would crank the door handle of quarterback room, only to find the Texan fixated on old film, it took him by surprise.
Then, Trask’s questions would begin to pour out of his mouth.
Why that read? Why that audible?
That’s when Trask’s preparation started.
Trask, who is now a graduate student at the University of Florida, has been in Gainesville since 2016.
For three and a half seasons, Trask took the back seat to three different quarterbacks — Del Rio, Appleby and Franks.
Yet, you’d never know it.
As Feleipe Franks was carted off of the field, Kyle Trask didn’t have an opportunity to bid his offensive leader farewell.
Instead, he was busy buckling his chin strap and getting his shoulder loose. He was about to get thrown into the blazing blue fire that is Kroger Field.
With an 11-point deficit illuminating on the scoreboard, it was now or never for Trask.
This is what all that preparation was for, right?
Four straight completions, 54-yards and less than two minutes later, Trask optioned the football to Lamical Perine on an obviously busted play to put the Gators within one possession of the Wildcats.
Later that game, Trask would pummel his way into the end zone after leading the Florida offense on another successful drive — this one though, won the game.
Every snap, throw, touchdown and game since then has done nothing but add to Trask’s remarkable story.
The slate of games that Kyle Trask has had to face haven’t been easy. But many times, he makes them seem as such.
Following Trask’s relief effort against Kentucky, he was graced with two games against relatively soft defenses in Tennessee and Towson.
However, in the following week, it was anticipated that Trask would be faced with his biggest test of his career — a stout Auburn defense.
As he sauntered through the Gator Walk leading up to the front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Trask was emotionless. In the Gator Walk crowd was a sign showing his head glued over the face of “Thomas The Train” – “Trask Train”, it read.
Not even the slightest smirk cracked across his face.
Kyle Trask was mentally and emotionally prepared to show 90,000+ members of Gator Nation that he was the real deal. As long as Dan Mullen trusted him, he would do his best to provide the Gator offense with the tools to win.
In a 19-for-31 effort against the Tigers, Trask counterbalanced the Gator defense (which practically pitched a perfect game) perfectly. Tallying 234-yards and two touchdown passes, Trask not only surprised the Gator Nation, but he also caught the attention of the national media.
Though Trask and the Gators would lose to the LSU Tigers (who now top the country in the college football playoff rankings), the Florida signal-caller managed to go tit-for-tat with LSU’s Joe Burrow, who in my opinion, is likely the Heisman front-runner.
In a 23-for-39 performance in Death Valley, Trask consistently led the Gator offense down the field delivering answer after answer to the quick-scoring Tiger offense.
Going into Baton Rouge for a night game is hard enough. Throw in the fact that the game was a Top-10 matchup and the moon was full and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an insanely hostile environment.
Yet, Trask still seemed unphased by the immense pressure weighing on his shoulders as he went on to throw 310 yards and three touchdowns against the LSU defense.
In a visit to Columbia, South Carolina, we got to see perhaps Trask’s biggest enemy: the rain.
On a very drizzly Saturday in South Carolina, Trask and the Gator offense had troubles getting a grip on not only the ball – but the game as a whole.
Heading into halftime knotted up at 10-points apiece, the Florida-South Carolina game was looking eerily similar to the same contest when it was in Gainesville last season. Florida looked dazed and confused in what was shaping up to be the perfect hangover game coming off of the loss to LSU.
Even though Trask opened up the third quarter with an interception, the redshirt junior was able to maintain the mentality necessary to take the field once again and lead the Gators on a scoring drive. And another. And another. And another.
Though Trask’s start at South Carolina was a bit rocky, come final whistle he had tallied four passing touchdowns in a gutsy win over the Gamecocks.
Even in Florida’s loss to the rival Georgia Bulldogs, Trask still didn’t disappoint. In a 21-for-33 passing performance, a 63.6% passing performance isn’t anything to be upset about.
Not to mention not a single pass that day went the other direction while two of them made it to the end zone.
Tack on the 363-yards that Trask accounted for in Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt and you round out college football’s Cinderella story of the 2019 season.
And it isn’t even over yet.
Kyle Trask still has the challenges of an impressive Missouri pass defense ahead of him. He also gets to encounter the win-hungry Seminoles who will come into The Swamp two weeks from now.
And even then, he will have to wait to learn what’s next as the Gators wait on bowl invitations.
But whatever road, no matter how long or how short, lies ahead of Kyle Trask, there’s no doubt that he will be prepared – mentally and physically.