Musician Paul Simon repeated himself at the risk of being crude, saying there must be 50 ways to leave your lover. The Gators put Feleipe Franks and their history in the past and found more than 60.
Gators’ quarterback Kyle Trask, the shining star under center, amassed another Heisman-worthy performance. Memories of Franks’ “Heave to Cleve” and the 2018 Peach Bowl victory were wiped from the collective subconscious of 17,000 fans and replaced by “Trask for Heisman” chants.
When the dust settled on Franks’ return to Gainesville, No. 6 Florida beat Arkansas 63-35.
Trask had no trouble finding receivers as the Razorbacks’ defenders maintained a healthy social distance. Trask finished 23-29 for 356 yards and six touchdowns, and he’s the only quarterback in Gators history to throw six passing touchdowns multiple times in a season. However, he remains humble while in the national spotlight.
“Stats are cool,” Trask said. “But we’re here to win games,”
Filling in for Pitts, who will be out another week after sustaining a concussion against Georgia, Keon Zipperer hauled in three passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Trevon Grimes led Florida in receiving yards with 109 on six catches, two of which found the endzone.
The offense balanced its attack with 208 yards on the ground, led by a nice 69 yards from Dameon Pierce.
"I think they kind of came in with a mindset of stop the pass first," Mullen said. "When we saw that was what they're gonna do, we kind of transitioned."
The Gators (5-1) continue their march to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, with a stop in Nashville, Tennessee, to play Vanderbilt next Saturday at noon. Florida’s 593 total yards tonight is the eleventh time the Gators amassed 500 or more yards under Mullen. During the 2010-17 seasons, UF had nine 500-yard outings.
“The wideouts did a really nice job and Kyle Trask did a really good job distributing the ball, not getting panicky, taking what they were going to give us all night,” Mullen said.
Arkansas (3-4) heads back to Fayetteville, hoping to regroup before LSU visits next weekend.
The 35-point margin in the victory was not a convincing mirage. Florida’s streaky defense once again rode the offense’s wave, as the Gators allowed 458 total yards, 250 from Franks in the air. The porous run defense allowed Arkansas to stampede for 208 yards (6.5 average) and three touchdowns.
To put the absurdity of the defense’s performance into context, three of Arkansas’ four touchdowns were on plays of 40 or more yards, and the Razorbacks averaged 10.8 yards per play in the first half despite being down by three touchdowns.
The offense suffocated any glimmer of hope Arkansas had. The closest the Razorbacks got to matching Florida was when they tied the game at seven in the first quarter.
Only two of Florida’s drives before garbage time ended without a touchdown.
There was no love lost between Florida fans and Franks. Each time the Arkansas quarterback stepped under center, a shower of boos rained over him. But when the clock hit zero, there was only love between Mullen and his former quarterback as the two embraced near Arkansas’ sideline.
“I think he knows how much we love him,” Mullen said. “I'm really happy for him, and the success he's having because, I tell you what, he's having a great year and leading a team that people didn't expect a lot out of into having a great year.”
Contact Christian Ortega at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @unofficialchris.