Gainesville. FL – Following last weekend’s electric performance against the Georgia Bulldogs, one might expect the Gators to come out a bit flat for Saturday’s game against Arkansas. However, they would be underestimating the motivational power of a night game in The Swamp. Especially when that game also includes an opportunity to defeat your former starting quarterback.
In my last column, I spoke in depth about the return of Feleipe Franks and how he holds a special place in this renaissance of the Gator Standard. But all of that is in the past. This article is all about what’s happening now.
The Gators control their destiny with a two-game lead in the East. As long as they can get through their remaining schedule without any major catastrophes, they will be playing for the SEC championship in Atlanta. But before they can think of any of that, they have to take care of business this weekend. According to Kyle Trask, that’s exactly what they’re doing.
The senior quarterback out of Manvel, Texas was quick to point out that once Monday rolled around, it was time to get to work, preparing for Arkansas. There will be much made about the obvious storyline on Saturday, so let’s address the elephant in the room.
Feleipe Franks had a turbulent career in Gainesville, that was marked by many highs and lows. He enjoyed moments of absolute adulation and suffered incredible scorn. In a moment, Franks could go from the GOAT (to be fair, nobody was ever taking it this far) to the scapegoat, responsible for all of the programs warts. All the while, Kyle Trask sat patiently, waiting for a chance he wasn’t even sure that he would ever get. But then it happened…
Late in the third quarter against Kentucky, Franks suffered a gruesome ankle injury that thrust the quiet guy from Manvel into the spotlight. Few had any idea just what to expect. Kyle wasted no time, making the most of his opportunity, leading a come from behind victory on the road, and securing his role as QB1.
Since that fateful night, the two quarterbacks have gone down very different paths. For Franks, one last win in Gainesville would be a high point to this season. That’s not a knock on Franks. He has actually performed quite well since transferring. Instead, it’s an acknowledgement of the ceiling that he faces with the Arkansas football program.
On the other hand, Kyle Trask is having the type of season that earns great players a trip to New York and a bronze statue. Both quarterbacks will be out to make a statement on Saturday night. So, who will have the final word?
Well, regardless of the fact that the Razorbacks defense has been a takeaway machine this season, I am going to have to go with Kyle Trask. He’s just been too consistent–even going back to last season–to think otherwise. Trask has thrown 22 touchdown passes this season and averages 10.3 yards per completion. Those are elite numbers. Not only that, but he’s surrounded by top-tier talent and spreads the ball around as though he were making one of Jim McElwain’s famous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
As if that weren’t enough, Florida is averaging 43 points per game. That’s well above Arkansas’ average of 24.5 points per game. So, how does Arkansas compete? They could attempt to keep the ball out of Kyle Trask’s hands by sustaining long drives. However, their offensive line has been one of the worst in the nation when it comes to pass protection, and the running game has been spotty at best. Ultimately, this is going to be an emotional game for some but these two teams just don’t matchup well.
It is highly possible that we will see a relatively close game at first. But once these teams settle in, I will be looking for Todd Grantham to dial up the pressure on Feleipe Franks, taking advantage of the offensive line’s weak points and forcing him into making ill-advised throws. In the end, I think Florida will run away with this one. Gators win, 42-24.
Florida will host Feleipe Franks and the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday night. The game will be broadcast live from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and can be found on ESPN. Coverage begins at 7:00 EST.
Click play on the following audio player to listen to The Gridiron Growl Podcast preview of this game: