After his fifth touchdown pass of the afternoon, with the second half just underway and the Florida offense churning in a manner we haven't seen it churn in some time, it became abundantly clear that Kyle Trask is going to be a problem.
Not just for Ole Miss, which couldn't keep pace with the Florida quarterback in Lane Kiffin's Rebels debut. But also for the rest of the conference and perhaps beyond, as a new SEC star emerged in the league's first week of play.
It felt Joe Burrow-esque. Now, take some breaths. Deep, deep breaths. Let's not overreact after 60 minutes of football.
Trask is not the player Burrow is or was for LSU last season—a historic year that culminated with passing records, a Heisman Trophy and a national championship. Not yet, at least.
But the ingredients are there for Trask to have this kind of impact and improvement: good coaching, great offensive pieces, and, at least in this one-game sample, the numbers to reinforce it all. And perhaps more striking, all the pieces are there for Trask to emerge in the same striking, overpowering way Burrow did in 2019.
In Florida's 51-35 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Trask threw for six touchdowns, zero interceptions and 416 yards. He powered the Gators offense to 642 yards—the kind of output we haven't seen much of from Florida since Tim Tebow departed after the 2009 season.
Burrow's stat line against the Rebels last year? Five touchdowns, two interceptions and 489 passing yards. (Just sayin'.)
While Trask's performance was his best collegiate game, it's not necessarily shocking to see him evolve. There were signs last season. Signs that he would become more than just a nice fill-in. Signs that Burrow showcased in an up-and-down 2018 before exploding onto the national scene the following year.
When Feleipe Franks was lost to a leg injury early in 2019, Trask filled in valiantly and grew from week to week. Despite having to deal with one of the more daunting schedules in the country, he still accounted for 29 touchdowns.
Fast-forward to this year, and Trask might have cemented himself as the SEC's best quarterback with this performance, grabbing the baton from none other than Burrow.
The redshirt senior out of Manvel, Texas, battled injuries leading up to 2019. It's largely why he's a late bloomer.
At 6'5", he has the build of an NFL quarterback. His game isn't flashy, although his accuracy, especially when given a clean pocket, is excellent. And against Ole Miss, that accuracy was regularly on display.
The other element to Trask's evolution is the pieces around him. Burrow's meteoric rise at LSU wasn't a solo effort. It took Joe Brady, the Tigers' former passing game coordinator, to unlock his development. It took wideout Ja'Marr Chase, along with a vault of productive offensive players, to see these moments through.
It appears Trask has a similar situation unfolding in Florida. Head coach Dan Mullen, who helped groom Alex Smith, Tebow and Dak Prescott, has a track record of getting the most out of his quarterbacks. Given Mullen's history, Trask is in great hands.
And while Florida doesn't offer the same talent that LSU did last year, Trask still has plenty to work with. Tight end Kyle Pitts, who caught four of Trask's touchdowns and finished with 170 yards receiving against Ole Miss, is one of the best tight ends and most rare offensive weapons in the country.
If the first game was any indication, Florida's rushing attack could also be a strength. While no player finished with double-digit carries, the Gators still averaged 6.8 yards per rush and finished with nearly 200 yards on the ground.
It's only one game on the heels of a disjointed offseason, but Trask's performance should be enough to recalibrate his individual prospects and the expectations for his team. While Florida's defensive performance was not up to par—allowing 613 yards—it seems likely this area will improve.
If that's the case, the Gators will be a threat in the SEC. And with games against Texas A&M, LSU and Georgia over the coming weeks, there will be time to validate their standing.
We've seen this before. A team led by its rapidly improving quarterback, surrounded by gifted players and coaches, playing to and perhaps above their ceilings. It's what allowed a talented LSU team to deliver a historic year.
Trask looks the part. And sure, we tend to overreact early on. The wait for SEC football makes it that much more magnified. But the potential for him to blossom into one of the nation's most productive quarterbacks is real. One could make a compelling argument he's already there.
Over the coming weeks, we will see just how accurate those Burrow comparisons are. After one Saturday, however, Trask did join the SEC record book.
His six touchdown passes are tied for the most ever in an SEC opener.
The player he tied?