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Florida 63, Arkansas 35: Gators gut Hogs behind Kyle Trask’s mastery

In Feleipe Franks’s return, his erstwhile understudy continued an ascent to superstardom.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Florida Gainesville Sun-USA TODAY NETWORK

Yeah, Feleipe Franks returned to The Swamp on Saturday night.

But the Florida Gators didn’t miss him for a moment — and their current quarterback is continuing to author a season that qualifies as can’t-miss in more than one way.

Kyle Trask threw for 356 yards and six touchdowns — as many as he had incompletions — and Florida scored four touchdowns in a second quarter for a second straight week, building up a big lead that held up even after Arkansas’s big plays in a 63-35 win.

Trask fired five of his six TD throws in the first half, connecting with Trevon Grimes (twice), Xzavier Henderson, Jacob Copeland, and Keon Zipperer on scoring passes before intermission. He added a sixth — to Zipperer, a capable stand-in for Kyle Pitts on the night — early in the fourth quarter, then sat the bench for the rest of the night.

By the time pants hit aluminum, his list of accolades had grown again: His sixth straight game with four or more touchdown passes extended his school and SEC records, his second game with six touchdown passes tied a Florida record, and his 29 overall touchdown passes broke the SEC record for most in a season’s first six games.

And despite a number of explosive plays, Franks just couldn’t keep up with the player who helped back him up for more than two years.

Franks threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns — both deep balls to Mike Woods — and completed 15 of 19 passes, while the Hogs’ ground game churned up 208 rushing yards and three touchdowns of its own.

Florida had 208 yards on the ground in its own right, though, and all of Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis, Nay’Quan Wright, and Emory Jones ended up with at least 37 rushing yards on the night.

And if Arkansas scoring three of its touchdowns on plays of more than 40 yards, averaging 8.98 yards per play, and scoring 35 points in just over 21 minutes of possession were all clear signs that Florida’s defense has not solved most of its problems, the Gators’ third-down success continued, with just three third down conversions allowed on 10 tries and another stop on a fourth down.

And on a night when Trask was again incandescent, it barely mattered: Florida never led by fewer than seven points after going up 14-7 with 10:03 left in the first half, and never led by fewer than 21 after Jones took in a one-yard plunge midway through the third quarter.

At this point in the increasingly dizzying Dan Mullen era, Florida’s offense is so effective even without its most talented player that no level of failure from the defense can be considered lethal.

The sky, as they say, seems like the limit.