In the first half of last Saturday’s 24-7 win, Florida’s defense looked uncharacteristically shaky on the first series of the game only to dig in and dominate the rest of the way. The defense gave up only 98 yards after the opening Kentucky drive and 173 for the game. More impressive was the fact Kentucky was held to a season-low 47 plays thanks to help from a ball control offense. The fresher the defense, the better the defense and Florida’s offense at its best, holding the ball for 38:09, controlling the tempo of the game and keeping the defense off the field. When a defense is fresh, especially against an inferior opponent, they do this:
Series No. 5: three plays, six yards, 1:59 time elapsed.
On first down, freshman Vernon Hargreaves showcased good fundamentals in run support.
On an option play coming to his side of the field, we see Hargreaves taking his blocker’s inside shoulder and keeping his own inside arm free, maintaining leverage.
Hargreaves didn’t make the play on the stat sheet but the play didn’t get bounced outside because of what he did. By maintaining the outside edge, the running back had to cut under him. Creating plays for others is just as important as any interception Hargreaves can make.
Running back Ryan Timmons slipped around him for nine yards, setting up a 3rd and 1 for the Wildcats. The Cats ran a reverse pitch that became a broken play for a three-yard loss and the series was over.
Series grade (A): This was the third three and out in four drives for Florida’s defense.
Series No. 6: five plays, four yards, 2:13 time elapsed.
After converting their first and only third down of the game, Kentucky’s drive went south quickly.
The Wildcats ran a throwback pass play, where quarterback Jalen Whitlow handed off to receiver Daryl Collins. This play was set up perfectly to fool Florida.
Safety Cody Riggs blitzed, leaving nobody on the outside to stop this play once Whitlow slipped out to receive the pass. The wide receiver ran cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy out of the play.
But Riggs’ blitz was effective enough to make Collins think twice, and he didn’tt throw this pass back to Whitlow (No. 2) who had a convoy of blockers on what certainly would have been a touchdown.
Instead of a big gain, the play was an 11-yard loss. Then things got worse for the Wildcats.
On the very next play, quarterback Maxwell Smith took a shot at the end zone, but Hargreaves had other ideas.
Series grade (A): Drives ending with turnovers are successes, and this one was no different.
Series No. 7: 15 plays 40 yards, 6:35 time elapsed.
Kentucky moved the ball well again because they gained yardage on first down, setting up manageable a second downs. On the first five plays of the drive the Wildcats netted 29 yards, 5.8 yards per play. The next 10 plays of the drive, through a mix of losses, sacks and penalties netted only one yard.
The drive almost ended halfway through (4th and 10) when Vernon Hargreaves was a bit too deep in his shuffle step.
The receiver mades his break and Hargreaves was unable to recover,with the play ending up a 12-yard gain.
Two plays later the Wildcats miscommunicated on the line of scrimmage.
Both guards made a last second change in protection scheme pre-snap
Somehow, Dante Fowler was left unblocked.
As we saw on the second play of the Tennessee game, this usually doesn’t end well.
Three plays later, Fowler went unblocked again.
The result was strikingly similar to the previous example.
When a lineman is turned 180 degrees watching his quarterback being sacked, something has gone horribly wrong. The next play, would be Kentucky’s last for the evening.
Series grade (B): The Wildcats moved the ball well in the beginning of the drive, but Florida dug in and Kentucky continued to make mistakes cancelling out any chance of a drive ending with points on the board, and only gaining 2.7 yards per play.
Second half grade (A): An impressive performance from a talented unit that only allowed one third down to be converted against them and only gave up 53 net yards in the second half.
Game grade (A): Another week, another complete shutdown of an opposing offense. Maybe Florida could be guilty of starting a tad slow, but once they’re in the game, they’re relentless and make few critical errors. No defense is perfect, but with a third of the season in the books Florida appears to be getting better every week.
Screenshots taken from Libgator video