It was a season opener that erased any memory of the past six months.
Eighty-six points, 1,255 yards; football is back.
For the Gators, the display showed the wealth of their offense. Kyle Trask had a record performance after amassing 416 yards and six touchdowns through the air Kyle Pitts caught eight of Trask’s 30 completions to the tune of 170 yards and four touchdowns.
“It was just great to be out there playing football again.” coach Dan Mullen said postgame.
While they stole Twitter, the offense wasn’t all “Kyle squared.” Receiver Kadarius Toney ignited the offense time and time again on the way to amassing a career-high 154 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
Last season, Toney missed six games and finished with 10 receptions to his name. Mullen praised the senior’s performance Saturday, saying he developed into an every-down player.
“One of the things we talked to him a bunch about was every time you get the ball; it’s OK to get vertical and get 4 or 5 yards,” Mullen said. “You don’t have to run around 70 yards to get those 4 yards. Just drop pads and get vertical. I think you saw him do that.”
Toney made his impact early in the first quarter, solidifying Florida’s lead with a 50-yard scramble on a jet sweep to set up a touchdown. From then, it was chunk play after chunk play.
But, while Toney and the rest of the offense were relentless, the defense couldn’t resist relenting.
Mississippi compiled 613 total yards. Matt Corral sliced through the Gators defense and picked up 445 total yards.
There were a few wins for the Gators defensively, however. They sacked Corral four times and edged the Rebels in total tackles 80-77.
But the rust was more than obvious. The team had little time to prepare defensively, as Mullen frequently mentioned the team’s lack of time to prepare for the season. But they have to acclimate themselves quickly.
In the secondary, Rebels junior receiver Elijah Moore made 227 yards out of ten receptions. Overall, Mississippi averaged 18.5 yards per reception. The Gators didn’t get a break either on the ground as they gave up 170 yards.
“They did a great job of getting their talented guys the ball in the same way we did, of creating matchups,” Mullen said. “We've just got to get cleaner and better for next week.”
Whether the defense picks up the pieces in a week remains to be seen.
South Carolina put up 379 total yards against Tennessee Saturday, and the Volunteers narrowly beat the ‘Cocks 31-27.
Florida remains the heavy favorite for the matchup against the ‘Cocks. Whether it will serve as another way to break the defense back into its old habits won’t be found until the game clock reads zero. But Florida will rarely hang 50 on a team, and against stiffer opponents later this season, the defense will need to match the offense’s edge if Florida wants to find itself in the College Football Playoff.
Contact Christian Ortega at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @unofficialchris.
UF quarterback Kyle Trask connected with tight end Kyle Pitts for four touchdowns in Florida’s win over Ole Miss on Saturday.