Gators win big amid ‘Trask for Heisman’ chants

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kyle Trask has gone from Heisman Trophy hopeful to potential Heisman front-runner in two months, much of it coming in the past two weeks.

Trask threw for 356 yards and six touchdowns, extending his school record for consecutive games with at least four TDs to six, and No. 6 Florida overwhelmed Arkansas 63-35 on Saturday night in the Swamp.

Trask repeatedly torched the Razorbacks (3-4), who were without coach Sam Pittman due to a positive COVID-19 test — and without much of a chance by halftime. It was the second time this season Trask tossed six TDs in a game; he is the only player in school history to accomplish that feat.

The Florida faithful even started up a “Trask for Heisman” chant.

“Yeah, I heard it,” the quarterback said. “But like I said, just focused on winning games here.”

So far, so good.

“The more success teams have sometimes, the more individual awards come,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said of Trask. “If we keep being successful as a team, we keep making plays, he’s going to have the opportunity to get individual awards.”

Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks, a three-year starter for the Gators (5-1), was booed early in his return to Florida Field and unable to do much to steal the spotlight from Trask. Florida players and coaches lined up to hug Franks after the game, and the home crowd responded with a warm ovation as he left the stadium for the last time.

“It’s awesome, man, just to be just to be around those guys and see the excitement they had to see me and me to see them,” Franks said. “It’s fun. You love the game; that’s what you play it for, the relationships you build along the way.”

Trask, meanwhile, started a new streak by throwing at least four TD passes in the first half for the second straight week. He had five in Florida’s first six drives. and he might have had another had the Gators not failed to convert a fourth-down play at the Arkansas 16.

Still, it was Trask’s most impressive half in two years as a starter and put him in elite company, as the Gators won their 11th straight at home and moved a step closer to locking up a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

“I think I did a great job of executing and being efficient,” said Trask, who now has an SEC-record 28 TD passes and just three interceptions in six games. “You strive for perfection, but it’s really hard to get there.”

The only negative for Florida: Its defense allowed a 47-yard TD pass, an 83-yard TD run and an 82-yard catch and run for another score. But Trask’s night certainly overshadowed those deficiencies.

He became the third player in school history with at least 25 touchdown passes in multiple years, joining Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow and Danny Wuerffel. Both of those guys have statues outside the stadium.

Trask also became the fourth quarterback in the FBS since 1996 to throw four or more TDs in six consecutive games in a single season. The list includes Colt Brennan (Hawaii, nine in 2006), Graham Harrell (Texas Tech, six in 2007) and Logan Woodside (Toledo, six in 2016).

Trask had time in the pocket thanks to a complementary ground game and plenty of open options despite playing without dynamic tight end Kyle Pitts, who will miss another game following a concussion and nose surgery that stemmed from a viscous hit against Georgia.

The signal-caller’s six TDs went to four different receivers: Trevon Grimes (twice), Keon Zipperer (twice), Justin Shorter and Jacob Copeland.

The Gators showed no signs of a letdown following that emotional victory against the rival Bulldogs.

Franks’ return might have had a little to do with it. Florida defenders wanted a piece of him, and Trask surely wanted to prove Mullen made the right call by sticking with him over Franks.

Franks completed a 47-yard touchdown pass on his opening drive and pointed to the Florida sideline as he ran to celebrate with teammates. But he did little else the rest of the night and ended up in the locker room in the third quarter with a left hand/wrist injury.

He returned with it heavily taped and wore a glove to help protect it. He could be seen looking into the stands, possibly reminiscing about his time in Gainesville, between the third and fourth quarters as the Gators played Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”

Franks completed 15 of 19 passes for 250 yards and two scores.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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