Florida vs Kentucky preview
Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
This Saturday the 4-0 Kentucky Wildcats will host the #10 ranked 3-1 Florida Gators, looking to come away with a home victory in the matchup for the first time since 1986. The Wildcats have come close the last two visits but blew both late to keep the losing streak alive.
Overall the defense looks much improved from last year but we are still seeing early miscues that have haunted them in the Grantham era. If it weren’t for a slow start against Alabama allowing them to jump out to a 21-3 lead after one quarter, Florida could be sitting at 4-0 and a top 5 ranking. Last week Florida routed Tennessee 38-14 but again, the defense allowed the Vols to jump out ahead 14-10 in the 2nd quarter due to lazy angles, not lining up correctly, and missed tackles. Tennessee ended up with 400 yards of offense, with the majority of those yards racking up in the 1st half. Florida tends to clean those issues up in the 2nd half of games and play near perfect defense but if Florida wants to escape Lexington with another win to keep the streak alive, Grantham better have his unit playing mistake free football from start to finish, and lock down Wildcat leading receiver Robinson with star DB Elam.
In 4 games we’ve seen Florida transition from the Kyle Trask air style to the Emory Jones run and dump very efficiently. Florida will be excited to once again throw out Anthony Richardson as a shake up from Emory Jones now that he’s 100% from a hamstring injury. Between Richardson and Jones, look for Florida to establish the run game against a defense that is top 20 in the country in rush yards per game. Florida is hoping the numbers are skewed based on Kentucky playing lack luster teams such as Chattanooga and South Carolina. With the run game established, Florida will look to include the RB’s in the passing game as each of them have great hands and give Jones another added option to move the ball down field.
Kentucky will look to play physical from the jump and control the line of scrimmage. It’s simple, if they do then it’s going to be a long day for the Gators at Kroger Field w/ a QB who hasn’t yet played a tough game on the road as a starter. The Wildcats will have to spy on Jones all game and keep him inside the pocket if they want any chance of coming out on top. If Jones or Richardson gets loose, there’s no telling how high the score will be.
It’s de ja vu for head coach Mark Stoops heading into this match up with Florida in terms of his offensive game plan. The number one priority for the Kentucky offense is to take care of the football. As we previewed this issue last week, the Wildcats left Columbia with 3 more turnovers. If Will Levis and Co. can’t hold onto the ball, it will be a long day at the office and the losing streak will live on. Look for Kentucky to establish the run with SEC leading rusher Rodriguez in hopes Florida loads the box allowing WR Wan’dale Robinson to catch and run at will.
I’m rolling with the Florida Gators to come out on top and hand Kentucky their first loss of the season. Grantham will get his boys to play mistake free defense from kickoff and will capitalize on Will Levis’s tendency to turn the ball over, taking his team out of important drives late. Look for Emory Jones to continue maturing in the Gator offense and Richardson to have a few meaningful runs that gives Florida yet another victory at Kroger Field.