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Florida vs. LSU, Game Thread: Gators’ Senior Night comes on dark day

A final sendoff for Kyle Trask and his fellow seniors comes on a night when hearts and minds may be elsewhere.

Kentucky vs Florida Photo by Kelly Chase/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

I wanted to make a big deal of the ideal stat line I wanted for Kyle Trask in Florida’s final regular season game against LSU this Saturday night (7 p.m., ESPN or WatchESPN).

I was going to start from the touchdowns: Trask has 38 already this year, and his 39th and 40th will tie and break the record for touchdown passes in a season by a Gator currently held by Danny Wuerffel and set during his magical 1996 campaign. But Trask throwing for nine — implausible, but not impossible, against this LSU defense — would get him the Gators’ single-game record, too, and would also bring some nice symmetry: Trask’s first season ending with Florida at 4-7 and him redshirting and his final season ending with Florida aimed at the College Football Playoff and him in Heisman Trophy contention after 47 touchdown throws in 10 games would be an irresistible detail of his dominance.

Then there’s the yardage. Trask is at 3,243 yards through nine games; a 357-yard performance would get him to 3,600, nice and round. 654 would get him to 3,897, one yard past Rex Grossman’s single-season record — probably a reach for the Gators, even if LSU’s already given up one 600-yard performance this year. But 539, somewhat more realistic, would put Trask at 3,782 — one yard ahead of the per-game pace set by 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow’s full 15-game season a year ago, and done only by shattering the Florida single-game record for passing yards along the way. (And if we want to get eerie and sentimental? 445 yards through the air would get Trask to 3,698 — or 3-6-98, his birthday.)

And how many passes would Trask ideally throw for those 539 yards and nine touchdowns, while we’re playing genie with a box score? Well, let’s get Trask over another threshold — the 200.0 one for passer rating. A 28-for-40 night brings him to a season stat line of 258 completions on 362 attempts for the aforementioned yardage and touchdown totals, and that’s good enough to get a 200.2 rating for the year.

Getting greedy and asking for exactly 100 incompletions through 10 games? Well, a 28-for-36 night would get Trask to a 202.5 rating that would again be better than what Burrow posted a year ago, if barely.

But that’s greedy. And if today in sports taught me anything, it’s to savor what you have before counting eggs that have yet to hatch.

Early on in Florida’s game at Florida State, Keyontae Johnson appeared to be leading the Gators to their best performance against the Seminoles since a six-game losing streak began back in 2015. He finished a transition layup and converted the and-one chance, soared to throw down a Tyree Appleby alley-oop, and contributed to defense that had FSU suffocated over the first four minutes of play.

Then he collapsed.

Seven hours later, his family is being flown to see him in a hospital, where he’ll be staying overnight. His condition has been reported repeatedly as critical but stable — verbiage that may reflect both that Johnson’s health is not good but not changing.

One of Trask’s fellow seniors will bring Johnson’s basketball jersey onto the field. In spirit, he will be with Florida; in spirit, the Gator Nation will be with him.

In the flesh, the Gators will play the Tigers in a game that few of the former group are likely to say is the most important thing happening in their world today.

Who really cares what stats Kyle Trask puts up? Who really cares how big or small the margin of victory in this game is?

When I say go Gators, I’m usually saying it in the hopes that that spirit propels someone or some group onward and upward, that it sends people whom I love because I attended the same university and/or root for the same teams somewhere beyond where they are.

When I say and think it tonight, I’ll be rooting for a Gator I love to stay, to go nowhere beyond this Earth, to fight for his life and regain his health after the scariest moment I’ve ever experienced as a sports fan.

Go Gators.

Get well, Keyontae.