Kyle Trask perfectly embodied a common coachspeak cliche as he addressed reporters on Monday.
Trask, a redshirt junior quarterback, was sporting a compression sleeve and a knee brace hidden behind the lectern at which he stood. A place that he would not have seen any time at if it weren’t for a season-ending ankle injury quarterback Feleipe Franks suffered against Kentucky.
Since then, Trask has assumed Franks’ spot on the podium and under center, which brings us to that cliche he represents.
Next man up.
Coaches and players alike utter the three-word phrase in response to questions about injured (or in other cases, suspended) teammates. While it can largely be discounted as “just an expression” or coachspeak, Trask was the next man up for Franks, and he has delivered.
Since he became QB1, the redshirt junior has led a comeback on the road, thrown for over 800 yards on better than a 70 percent completion rate and is 3-0 as the starter. His most recent feat was taking down a top-10 team in Auburn that, at the time, had the best resume in college football.
Trask is the most prominent display of this cliche on the team, but he’s not the only one. The next, next man up showed up in a big way on Saturday. When Trask left the game with a knee injury in the second quarter, Emory Jones stepped in seamlessly and led a scoring drive.
Jones went 5 for 7 for 28 yards, added 13 yards on the ground and set the Gators up for an Evan McPherson 41-yard field goal.
This scoring drive forced Auburn to score a touchdown, not kick a field goal, to take the lead (they ultimately did neither and were shutout for the remainder of the game). But it was not only strategic; it was a moral victory, too.
The crowd of more than 90,000 had no clue if the quarterback curse had descended upon Gainesville and taken a second signal caller from their team. But in that moment, Jones showed that he too could be plugged into the machine and execute.
Florida has had three different leading rushers in six games and four different leading receivers. Running backs Lamical Perine, Dameon Pierce and even wide receiver Josh Hammond have all led UF’s rushing attack in separate games. On the other hand, receivers Hammond, Van Jefferson, Tyrie Cleveland and Freddie Swain have all led the team in receiving.
The Auburn game was the first time in 2019 a Florida receiver surpassed 100 yards, and not for lack of talent. A deep, unselfish receiver room can be credited for that.
The next guy on the depth chart can always step in and make a catch, or run for a first down or quarterback a top-10 program.
I guess that’s part of that Gator standard coach Dan Mullen preaches
Trask, despite the brace, will be a go for Florida’s second straight top-10 bout against LSU this weekend. But were he not, the next man up would surely be there to take his place.
Follow Kyle Wood on Twitter @Kkylewood. Contact him at [email protected]