Florida Gators football versus Kentucky Wildcats Breakdown
Date: Saturday, September 19, 2015
Time: 7:30 PM
TV: SEC Network
Last meeting: Last year Florida defeated Kentucky 36-30 in triple overtime.
Last time out:
Florida defeated East Carolina 31-24
Kentucky defeated South Carolina 26-22
Meet the Wildcats:
Head Coach: Mark Stoops (9-17 in over two seasons at Kentucky)
Conference: Southeastern Conference Eastern Division
2015 Overall Record: 2-0
2015 Conference Record: 1-0
Player(s) to Watch:
• Sophomore Running Back, Stanley “Boo” Williams. Williams has 24 carries for 242 yards, an average of 10.1 yards per carry.
• Junior Quarterback, Patrick Towles. Towles has completed 58.7% of his throws for 449 yards. He also has thrown 3 touchdowns.
5 Things to Know About Kentucky:
- Last week Kentucky ended a 22 game road losing streak against SEC teams by defeating South Carolina. This week they look to end a 28 game losing streak to Florida.
- Kentucky has had five consecutive losing seasons since they had for consecutive winning seasons from 2006 – 2009. Kentucky started 2014 5-1 and finished the season 0-6 and missed going to a bowl game.
- Kentucky has recently completed renovations to Commonwealth Stadium, which now sits 62,093.
- Kentucky finished 2014 2nd in the SEC in turnover margin and this year they are plus-3, which again is 2nd in the SEC
- The Wildcats rank last in the SEC and 114 in the nation in rushing defense giving up 221 yards per game.
5 Things to Pay Attention To:
- Quarterback performance under the lights Part Three. Who has the hot hand? McElwain said that he would not pull the quarterback if he has the hot hand like he has done the previous two games. If the quarterbacks are still rotating, most likely Florida is not in rhythm offensively.
- How the indicators play out. Last week McElwain said he noticed the indicators early in the week suggested that Florida would struggle against East Carolina. This week he said the indicators have been good thus far, if this is true the Gators will have an improved performance against the Wildcats.
- Kelvin Taylor’s response. Much has been said about the sideline interaction between McElwain and Taylor. Since then Kelvin has been dropped to 3rd string on the depth chart but McElwain also noted that Taylor will get plenty of carries. Florida will need him to help carry the load this week against a defense he should be able to find room against.
- CeCe Jefferson and Martez Ivey. Florida’s two prized recruits of the 2015 class will be on display this week. Due to injuries along the defensive front CeCe Jefferson was practicing with the first team and returning from injury Martez Ivey is ‘good to go’. These two will need to be productive to help sustain the offensive and defensive fronts.
- Energy early in the game from both teams. Both teams are coming off of two emotional weeks. Kentucky is sky high after beating South Carolina on the road and Florida was less than stellar in a win against East Carolina.
5 Things to Expect:
- High Energy from Big Blue Nation. Kentucky feels that this is their year to end the 28 game losing streak against Florida. They have called for a ‘Blue Out’ and the Big Blue Nation will be ready to give the Gators a hard time on Saturday Night.
- Increased Focus from Florida. Last week Florida tallied 12 penalties and gave a disappointing effort. Expect the Gators to play with more discipline, focus and effort. This is an important game heading into the meat of the schedule and Florida cannot afford an emotional let down against a team ready to prove they can compete at the top of the eastern division.
- A moment that makes Florida sweat. I expect this to be a tight game and I expect Kentucky to have a moment or moments that makes the Gators sweat. Florida is taking a young team on the road and Kentucky will be eager to take advantage of the crowd and any mistake.
- Smaller offensive rotation. Through two games Florida has played a good amount of players, but as the competition stiffens up, expect Florida to focus the rotation to dependable playmakers.
- Brandon Powell and Tight Ends Highlighted. In each of Florida’s first two games, Powell has shown why McElwain was eager to put the ball in his hands and the tight ends have made big plays. With Demarcus Robinson sure to be a focal point for the Kentucky defense after he ripped through the Wildcat defense last year. Opportunities will be there for them to make big plays against the Kentucky defense.
5 Keys to Victory:
- Maintain composure. Kentucky will be on fire to start the game and Florida needs to play discipline maintain their emotions. Florida will need to lean on what works because at the end of the day top to bottom, Florida is the better team.
- Florida red zone efficiency. Last week Florida struggled in the red zone to score touchdowns, with a 40% touchdown percentage. This week they may not be able to get away with that. The Gators cannot consistently settle for field goals, they struggled with this last year and will need to turn this around moving forward.
- Get running run game going. Florida’s running game has been average at best. The most explosive run play has come on a quarterback scramble. The Gators should be able to find some running lanes against a defense giving up 221 rushing yards a game.
- Limit mistakes, especially the dumb ones. As stated earlier Florida had a terrible day with penalties and turnovers last week. On top of the 12 penalties the two turnovers were unforced. Those type of mistakes on the road in the SEC are a surefire way to get beat. Florida will need to clean those things up because the margin of error continues to smaller and Kentucky is very capable of beating Florida.
- Get to Towles. Last year Patrick Towles threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns. Since then the Gator secondary has improved which will help, but they will need to pressure Towles into some mistakes, last year he also threw three interceptions as well. The Florida pass rush has faced two quick up-tempo teams the first two weeks. Kentucky will give Alex McAllister and the rest of the defensive line opportunities to make more plays.
5 Signs It Was a Good Day:
- One quarterback emerges. As the season progress, Florida will need one quarterback to emerge as ‘The Guy’ and for the second game in a row Will Grier has been named the starter. Neither quarterback has played bad in the first two games but neither has been over the top spectacular. That could be because of the sample size, but if Harris or Grier walk away as the quarterback to lead this offense, that will help build this offense further.
- Running backs combine for 150+ yards. Florida’s running game has yet to be consistent and with SEC play beginning, going against the worse run defense in the SEC should help the Gators find some mojo.
- Kentucky is off balance. If Kentucky cannot effectively run the ball, they will have a hard time moving the ball against Florida. For Towles to be effective, the Wildcats will need to be balanced and keep Towles out of third and long situations. If Florida is consistently winning 1st and 2nd down, it will be a long night for Towles.
- Penalties and turnovers are at a minimum. Last week Florida kept East Carolina in the game through ill-timed penalties and turnovers. If Florida is fairly clean in this area, it will go a long way to the Gators getting out of Lexington with a ‘W’.
- Boo Williams is contained. Williams has started the season strong with back-to-back 100-yard games. If Williams is limited and not breaking off large chunks of yards, Kentucky will depend on Towles to carry the day. Against the Florida secondary, the advantage goes to the Gators.
The Prediction: Florida 31 Kentucky 21
Kentucky will start strong but eventually the Florida defense will settle in and control the game. Florida will use a balanced attack against a struggling Kentucky defense to overcome the early intensity from the Wildcats and walk away with a hard fought victory in a four-quarter game.