Florida experienced a major scare in the second quarter against Auburn when quarterback Kyle Trask left the game with what initially appeared to be a major injury.
Auburn’s Marlon Davidson came crashing off the edge and was blocked into Trask as he delivered a pass. When Davidson made contact with Trask, it was right on the outside of the quarterback’s knee, causing his leg to bend awkwardly. Trask crumpled to the ground and seemed to be in serious pain.
But after being assessed by the medical staff, Trask was able to walk off the field without assistance. He went into the locker room for evaluation and was able to return to the field and help lead the Gators to a 24-13 victory.
Even after it was clear that Trask’s injury was not severe, Florida coach Dan Mullen did not hesitate to characterize the play as “dirty.”
“He’s going to be OK, he’s going to come back,” Mullen told CBS before going into the locker room for halftime. “I think he’s got a light sprain to his MCL. Hopefully the league really tries to keep quarterbacks safe from dirty plays.”
On Monday, Mullen said Trask “should be good to play” on Saturday against No. 5 LSU, and was offered a chance to re-characterize the hit on his quarterback. “Dirty,” he said, was probably not a fitting word choice.
“Maybe the use of that word — that wasn’t the right word at the time,” Mullen said. “I don’t think that was being coached and I don’t think there was intent to go injure him on the play.”
Florida lost starting quarterback Feleipe Franks to a season-ending injury on a low hit against Kentucky. There was also another questionable play later in the game against Kentucky where Wildcats linebacker Kash Daniel appeared to intentionally twist Trask’s ankle in a pile. Mullen said Monday that he was trying to harp on player safety.
“I know as a league, everybody wants to preach player safety. We talk about it, but what are we doing about it on those type of hits? I bet if those hits happen on a Sunday, they would have been called,” Mullen said. “Maybe the choice of words, at the time, was wrong but it’s more that those are plays we have to try to get out of the game — plays where guys have significant opportunities to be injured.”
Malzahn: Davidson ‘not a dirty player’
After the game on Saturday, Davidson went and found Trask on the field to apologize for the hit. When speaking with reporters, Davidson said he was “devastated” after the play when it looked like Trask may be seriously injured.
“When I’m out there, I always play between the rules. I’m always out there trying to take care of each other, and they should take care of me, too. But I was devastated after that,” Davidson said per Al.com. “I went to the sideline and my coach had to pull me to the side and say, ‘Man, you just got to continue to play football,’ because my mind was all on him. Like, I hope he gets up, I hope he feels better, I hope it’s nothing serious. Because, at the end of the day, it’s football. You want to see everybody be great.”
On Sunday, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn defended Davidson, a four-year starter for the Tigers, and said he has not spoken with Mullen about his comments.
“Marlon is not a dirty player,” Malzahn said. “Matter of fact, Marlon is one of the best football players in our league. He’s probably one of the classiest, if not the classiest, in our league and we’re honored and proud he’s one of our leaders.”
Trask went on to finish the game 19-of-31 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. The Gators, now 6-0, moved up to No. 7 in the AP Poll with the win. Next on the schedule is a trip to face No. 5 LSU in Baton Rouge.
On the other side, Auburn fell from No. 7 to No. 12 with the loss. The 5-1 Tigers have a bye this week.
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