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UF Football: Notes & quotes from Florida-South Carolina

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

Gators Offense

2020 Florida Football Postgame Notes

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No. 3 Florida 38, South Carolina 24
October 3, 2020
Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

• In addition to having scored 35-plus points in each of its last four games, Florida has scored at least 35 points in consecutive games against SEC teams for only the second time since the start of 2009.The other occurrence was in 2012, when Florida beat Tennessee, 37-20, and then Kentucky, 38-0

Kadarius Toney’s 86 receiving yards eclipsed his previous career high of 72 (Nov. 3, 2018, Missouri), and he equaled his career high for receptions (six – which he had against Idaho on Nov. 17, 2018).

Toney’s 57-yard touchdown reception was the second-longest of his career, behind only his 66-yard touchdown reception in last year’s season-opening win over Miami.

Dameon Pierce’s two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was his first rushing touchdown since last year’s win over Florida State (Nov. 30).

Trent Whittemore’s 4-yard touchdown reception was the first of his career.

Five different Gators have a receiving touchdown this season.

Kyle x Kyle = Nation-Leading Numbers

  • Kyle Trask already has 10 passing touchdown this season, a figure only two FBS quarterbacks reached prior to the start of today’s games.
  • Texas’ Sam Ehlinger had 10 through two games, while Louisiana Tech’s Luke Anthony had 10 through three games.
  • Kyle Pitts has six receiving touchdowns this season; he entered the day one off the FBS lead held by North Texas’ Jaelon Darden, who had five in North Texas’ first two games.
  • Trask’s 684 yards are the most through the first two games by a Gators quarterback since Rex Grossman opened his 2001 Heisman Trophy runner-up season with 706 in UF’s first two games.
  • Trask tossed four touchdown passes in a game for the third time in his career, tying the most such games in a career by a Gators quarterback since Chris Leak (2003-06).
  • All three of Trask’s four-plus passing touchdown outings have come against SEC teams, a feat no Gators quarterback has achieved since Rex Grossman (six times from 2000-02).
  • Trask threw at least three touchdown passes in a game for the sixth time in his career, and for the fifth time against an SEC opponent.
  • Trask’s six career games of three-plus touchdowns are the most by a Gators quarterback since Tim Tebow (14), while his five against SEC teams are the most since Chris Leak (six).
  • Trask has posted 10 consecutive games with 200-plus passing yards, tying John Reaves (last two games of 1969, first eight of 1970) for the third-longest streak in school history. o Shane Matthews holds the school record (17), while Rex Grossman is second with 13
  • Pitts’ second touchdown reception this afternoon was the 12th of his career and tied the school record for career receiving touchdowns by a tight end.
  • Pitts has already matched his receiving touchdowns total from last season (five), which is tied for the third-highest season total by a Gators tight end since the start of 1990.
  • Cornelius Ingram (seven in 2007) and Kirk Kirkpatrick (seven in 1990) jointly hold the single- season school record for receiving touchdowns by a tight end.

Gators Defense

• Florida limited South Carolina to two conversions on 10 third down attempts in the second half.
• The Gators have 51 takeaways since the start of 2018; they entered the game tied for 12th among all FBS teams in takeaways since the start of 2018.
Ventrell Miller’s fumble recovery was the first of his career.
Zachary Carter had more than a full sack for the first time in his career, finishing the day with 1.5.
Kaiir Elam set a career high for tackles (eight) for a second straight week (had seven at Ole Miss).
Mohamoud Diabate logged a career-high seven tackles (previous high was four versus Vanderbilt).

  • Florida allowed its opponent to score first for the first time since last year’s Georgia game (Nov. 2).

Florida Special Teams

Evan McPherson’s first made field goal this afternoon – a 26-yarder – was the 38th of his career, tying him with Eddy Pineiro for the sixth-most made field goals in school history.

Explosive Plays

Kyle Pitts (from Trask): 20-yard reception, 1st quarter
Kyle Pitts (from Trask): 20-yard reception, 1st quarter
Trent Whittemore (from Trask): 26-yard reception, 1st quarter
Kadarius Toney: 26-yard punt return, 2nd quarter
Xzavier Henderson (from Trask): 23-yard reception, 2nd quarter
Kyle Trask: 19-yard rush, 2nd quarter
Kadarius Toney (from Trask): 57-yard touchdown reception, 3rd quarter

Gators Extend Nation-Leading Winning Streak in Home Openers

  • Florida extended its nation-leading winning streak in home openers to 31 games.
  • The streak remains ahead of Oklahoma State (25), Wisconsin (24), Illinois (22), Michigan State (21), and Arizona State (21)

Series Updates

• Florida has won its last three meetings with South Carolina, as well as six of the last nine matchups
• The Gators improved their all-time record in the series to 29-9-3, and they are now 16-2 in Gainesville

• Florida has won three consecutive meetings with South Carolina for the first time since a four-game winning streak from 2006-09

Other

• Florida committed fewer than five penalties for the fourth consecutive game.
Florida Game Captains: Marco Wilson
• Florida won the toss and deferred to the second half; Florida defended the south end zone.

Attendance: 15,120 (17,504 with fan cutouts)

2020 Florida Football Postgame Quotes

Dan Mullen, Florida Head Coach

Opening statement…

“We did some things better than we did last week. We obviously made some mistakes that you can’t make during the course of the game. I liked our attitude. Our guys came out and continued to make plays when we need to make them. In critical moments of the game, we made the plays we need to make to win. I want to thank all the Gators fans that showed up today. Great crowd. Excited to be back in The Swamp. It was a lot of fun out there for us.”

On the offense’s performance…

“It was good. Kyle (Pitts) had four catches today, which was pretty good. Kadarius (Toney)… thought we could get a good matchup there, we got some with good catches. Again, Kyle (Trask) does a good job. He made a couple critical errors today, turned the ball over twice. Bad mistakes, to be honest with you. He took what they gave us. So that was a real positive. Finding some matchups that we had out there on the field, he did a pretty good job with it.”

On the team finishing the game out…

“I’m happy, I think we got to get a lot better. Certainly, get a lot better in how we finish the game. Offensively, we should have finished the game much sooner. Defensively, had the option to get off the field and the first time we got a stop there, was on the last play of the game there. I mean, we gave up 11 conversions today. So we have to do a better job of getting off of the field. But, yeah, I’m very happy. Like I said, when it came down to it, we made the plays to win the game.”

On where he sees the defense could improve…

“Execution, effort. You know what I mean? There were a couple of mistakes out there on the field. We still have got to tackle better, look at the attention to detail. We are still catching up on defense.”

On the defense’s improvement from Game 1 to Game 2…

“I thought we did some things much better, today than we did last week. Making the plays to get off the field are going to be critical. (Committing turnovers) you can’t do that. You just can’t do that. That really put the defense in some poor positions at times. That was really disappointing by our offense today, and I think it reflected upon (South Carolina) being able to score points on us with those situations, with the offense not doing what they’re supposed to do.”

On playing an SEC game in front of limited attendance…

“Hopefully the people that came experienced what we did, which was a little bit of normalcy in their life. To spend an October Saturday here in The Swamp, cheering on the Gators. There were a lot of cutouts there, too. Saw a lot of the cutout fans there, and they were really excited, too. I saw a lot of smiles on their faces the whole game, so that was pretty cool. Great to be back out there, great to be playing at home right here at The Swamp, and I’m very thankful for all of the people that came out and got to see us play, cheer us on and try to give us a home-field advantage.”

2020 Florida Football Postgame Quotes

Florida Student-Athletes

#5 Kaiir Elam, Sophomore, Defensive Back

On having someone like Marco Wilson at STAR helping cover his side of the field…

“Marco is doing his best and trying his best to learn the STAR position. He can be a help. It’s great to have a good cover guy in the slot. That’s where some teams have their best receivers. For Marco to play there, that’s a big help.”

On taking a lot of pride in tackling and the growth in the secondary from last week to this week…

“We did a better job tackling, but we still have a lot to improve on. I think we played a little bit better, but we still have a long way to go.”

On the biggest takeaway the defense will have from the final South Carolina drive…

“I think it shows us how we should play every single drive. We have the ability to do it.”

On whether it gets frustrating when the defense can’t get off the field…

“You can’t dwell on those things like that. All those third down conversions are just learning lessons to help us execute next time. I feel like we should get off the field every third down. If not, you can’t dwell on it. You’ve just got to learn from it, and come smarter and harder.”

On how far the defense is from being the defense they expect to be…

“We try to have a shutout every game, and we have a long ways to go with everything.”

#11 Kyle Trask, Redshirt Senior, Quarterback

On the execution of the offense while putting up 38 points…

“With the capability and potential of our offense, the playmakers that we have, we expected to score every single time we have the ball. We should’ve scored more. There are some little things we need to do, such as taking care of the ball. I can’t put the ball on the ground and give it to the other team. We just have to clean up those little things and there is no doubt in my mind that we can score on every single drive.”

On the interception he threw…

“We had a certain look that we wanted to run the play against. He happened to slip, and I thought he was going to get back up. It was just one of those deals that we have to clean up.”

On the offense putting the defense in better spots…

“It is about being able to flip field position. If you need to punt, you do not want to give them a short field or give them the ball on fumbles or interceptions. I think our defense played very well today, we put them in a lot of tough spots. I think what Coach Mullen was saying is that we have to play cleaner.”

On how the turnovers affect the mentality of himself and the team…

“At the end of the day, I just want everyone to play to their full potential, including me. I think we need to clean up those things in order to score against anybody.”

#27 Dameon Pierce, Junior, Running Back

On the win in The Swamp today…

“It felt good. It was a great team win. We still have a lot of things to fix, but it felt good to be undefeated in The Swamp so far this season. Even with the lack of fans, we brought our own juice. We feed off each other’s energy during the game.”

On how he felt on the first drive setting the tone with his carries…

“Did a great job up front. That’s one thing we practice all week. Hit the gaps, had great pull, great blocks. It was a team effort on that drive, and we got a touchdown.”

On what improvements the offensive line made in the offseason…

“I can see a lot of guys working their tail off to get better each week. Everybody’s going to make mistakes, but, for the most part, they learn from them. We take it week by week. We go over what we missed, what we did wrong, what we could’ve done better, and we try to execute that next week.”

#51 Ventrell Miller, Redshirt Junior, Linebacker

On how it felt to play in The Swamp today…

“Always a great feeling to be in The Swamp. No thousands of fans, but you’re glad to be in front of them on home field.”

On what the defense saw in South Carolina’s offense…

“They tried to run the ball a little bit. For us, it’s getting off the field on third down and executing.”

On how defense improved from last game…

“We did a little bit more talking. Making sure everybody was getting the calls and getting back to the ball. I believe our tackling improved a little, but that will get better as the season goes on.”

#80 Trent Whittemore, Redshirt Freshman, Wide Receiver

On scoring his first touchdown…

“To get a TD with my family and friends there, it’s a blessing. A huge blessing.”

On his comfort level with the offense…

“Definitely a lot more comfortable. I got to see a lot of the seniors in front of me and learn a lot from them. Whether it was Freddie (Swain) or Van (Jefferson) or Tyrie (Cleveland) or Josh (Hammond) or any of their guys, I just take a lot from them, and I feel a lot more comfortable this year, this time around.”

On Kyle Trask…

“(He) makes it super easy. He does so much pre-snap helping the receivers out, helping the line out, helping himself out. It makes a world of difference to have him back there.”

On tips from the veterans last year…

“A lot of it is just the mental part. Being able to stay focused throughout a long game. You may be in and out a lot or sitting on the sideline for a long time, but just learning from those guys to stay loose, but focused at the same time. They’ve played so much football, you just get to see their demeanor and how they approach things on gameday. I think that’s a huge thing.”

On how fun it is to play in offense with so many threats…

“It’s so much fun. It’s crazy to go out there on every passing play and think, ‘Hey, I got a shot on this play to catch the ball and take it,’ just because you have so many weapons around you that you may get the one-on-one matchup this play. I think that really keeps us going and just opens up so much for us just to have guys who all have that game-breaking ability.”

On catch before the touchdown…

“Just a play that we’ve been working in practice all week. Got a man in coverage and Kyle (Trask) just put it in a great spot, and praise the Lord, I was able to come down with it. I just credit Kyle for a great throw, putting it in a spot where it was going to me or nobody. Credit to him.”

On his role and the slot position in Coach Mullen’s offense…

“If I’m a bit of a change of pace, I understand that. It’s all about breaking guys down and winning. Just finding my role and take it play by play, don’t try to break the game open.”

On scoring in The Swamp…

“It was surreal. That’s a great way to describe it. Like I said, just having my family there was just huge for me. Growing up watching so many Gator games… it’s a super cool moment. I’m just praising the Lord that he gave me that opportunity today.”

#84 Kyle Pitts, Junior, Tight End

On the adjustments made by South Carolina to shut him down in the second half…

“I wouldn’t say they shut me down in the second half, I would just say we started letting other people facilitate and run the offense. They did a couple things where they were trying to bump me on certain routes, which I think let someone else end up getting open, so it was pretty good.”

On the connection between him and Kyle Trask…

“I would just say it’s fun every week going out there knowing he trusts me and I trust him, and he’ll put the ball there and Coach Mullen makes great play calls in order for me to get into the end zone. It’s pretty fun.”

On playing in The Swamp today with limited capacity…

“I wouldn’t say it was weird, because they brought the same juice and same energy. I wouldn’t say it was as loud, but it’s always a great feeling coming out of the tunnel in The Swamp.”

On Trent Whittemore’s first career touchdown…

“It was fun. Trent is a guy who works extremely hard throughout the week, every day of the week. He is a dynamic player. He’s a sleeper. I feel like he’s the sleeper of the team this year. He’s going to sneak in there, he’s going to get his five receptions maybe, and he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”