Florida Gators Football: Defense Hangs On In Win

Card subject to change.

A term meaning that what may have been advertised previously may be something different once you get to the event. It’s used frequently in the pro wrestling world and was a fitting term for the Florida Gators defense on a night WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil served as honorary Mr. Two Bits.

Playing against Kentucky Saturday night, the Gator Nation got something different from what was advertised as a shutout performance against Eastern Michigan the week prior. However, the end result was the same- a win, albeit after three overtimes.

The defense bent but didn’t break, hanging on to make key stops during the game. In what would be Kentucky’s final possession, safety Brian Poole was able to knock the ball off a receiver, forcing the Wildcats to attempt a field goal that would be missed. The Gators would go on a game-winning drive following the missed attempt.

The Gators’ line was able to hold the Wildcat running game to 81 yards on 33 attempts. The Wildcats had more success through the air, as Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles went 24-45 with 369 yards and three touchdowns. However, the Gators were able to get hands on some of the passes, leading to three interceptions- two by safety Keanu Neal, one by Poole.

While the talent level was expectedly better this week against an SEC foe, the Gators defense played inconsistent throughout the night. The defensive line got to the backfield early in the game, but towards the end of the first half struggled to get a push through other points in the contest. While Florida’s secondary was able to force turnovers, communication issues persisted throughout the night, allowing for big plays by the Kentucky receivers.

A metaphor of the night came on consecutive plays late in the second quarter. Freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor was out of position on coverage, allowing for a 27-yard reception by Wildcat receiver Blake Bone. With the ball now on
Florida’s 18-yard-line, Tabor would respond on the next play by getting in front of the receiver and deflecting a pass, holding Kentucky out the end zone in the process. Senior cornerback Jabari Gorman said the team’s preparation throughout the offseason allowed them with stand the scoring drives and make key stops.

“Once we got the hang of things we understood and we stuck together and we made sure even when someone made a bad play, play the next play because this game is not over, and that’s how we were able to come out with a victory,” Gorman said.

The card is always subject to change, and the Gators’ defensive performance in The Swamp Saturday night was no exception. Head coach Will Muschamp knows the team will have to work on bringing back a consistent name brand of defense the fans have come to know, but saw the resiliency in his team.

“The positive of it- it’s a very adverse game,” he said. “There’s going to be games like that when you play in our conference and you’ve got to find ways to win those games and our guys found a way to win the game.”

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Ryan Randall
From Melbourne, Florida, Ryan has lived in Florida since he was three, becoming a sports fan around that age. His passion for journalism rivals his love of sports. Shortly out of high school he covered prep and community sports for his hometown paper in Brevard Country, before moving to Gainesville, where he covered the Gators in the pros as well as prep sports for a few publications. A Telecommunications major at UF, Ryan now interns at Gator Country and ecstatic to showcase his talents for the publication. When not working on stories, Ryan enjoys playing basketball, music, as well as art. Follow Ryan at @_RyanRandall_