GAINESVILLE, Fla. – UF quarterback Kyle Trask could not have scripted it any better.
Since taking over the Gators, coach Dan Mullen never had.
Trask’s first drive as the team’s starting quarterback during this past Saturday’s 34-3 win over Tennessee turned out to be the most efficient opening series of the Mullen era.
Trask marched the offense 75 yards on five plays, ending with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Pitts a little more than two minutes into the game.
The drive was a boost for Trask and an example of Mullen’s attack at its best.
“It was really good for him and the whole offense; gave him some confidence coming off the field,” Mullen said Monday. “I think that helped. I don’t know that if it wasn’t as successful it would have hurt him, but I think having the success certainly helped, if that makes sense, getting in the rhythm and taking some of the pressure of the first time starting off his shoulders of going out there and making plays.”
The Gators have not been fast starters during two seasons under the offensive-minded Mullen.
The opening drive against Tennessee was just the second time UF has scored a touchdown on its first offensive series against a Power 5 opponent. The Gators scored a touchdown Aug. 24 to open the Miami game but needed to execute a fake punt on fourth down to keep the drive going.
UF has scored on the opening drive during three matchups against FCS opponents, recording touchdowns against Charleston Southern and Idaho last season and a field goal Sept. 7 against UT-Martin.
The No. 9 Gators (4-0) will look for another fast start against an FCS foe when Towson (3-1) visits the Swamp Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. and the game will air on the SEC Network.
Whatever happens on the opening drive, Trask will look to build on a solid debut as a starter. The redshirt junior stepped in for injured and erstwhile starter Feleipe Franks and completed 20 of 28 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Trask did have two interceptions and a fumble, but Mullen forgave the picks as the product of being aggressive in the Gators’ end of the field.
“I think Kyle just needs to continue on the path that he’s on,” Mullen said. “He prepares the right way getting into a game and he’s going to be ready for that moment. The biggest thing to build on is experience, him being out there in every situation – managing the play clock, making sure he’s getting the right checks, being comfortable in how he’s using cadence to his advantage, making sure he’s got communication with the receivers and offensive line.
“And decision-making – ‘When I’m going to take a sack, I’m going to throw this away, this play’s not there, so I’m not going to try to make something happen that’s not there.’ All of those things are a lot of experience things. The more experience you get, the better you’re going to be.”
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