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Kentucky Wildcat Football – Know Your Enemy: Florida Gators



SEPTEMBER 24, 2011, 7:00 PM







9/25/2010:  Florida  48  KENTUCKY  14

9/26/2009:  Florida  41  KENTUCKY 7

10/25/2008:  Florida  63  KENTUCKY  5

10/20/2007:  Florida  45  KENTUCKY  37

09/23/2006:  Florida  26  KENTUCKY  7


Ugh.  Here we go again.  The Florida game.

Usually when Kentucky play Florida, there is a lot of chatter that this may be the year that Kentucky finally breaks the streak.  That is due to the last two years, Kentucky has been undefeated headed into the Florida having, having knocked the teeth out of Louisville and whatever assorted cupcakes we had played previously.

Not this year.  Kentucky has played dreadful at times in all three of their games and is coming off an inexcusable loss to the Louisville Cardinals.  Florida on the other hand, has not played any world beaters either, but new coach Will Muschamp looks like a keeper so far, cruising to a 3-0 record and outscoring their opponents 113-26 on the season.  So far, this looks like a much better version of the 8-5 Gators that smashed Kentucky 48-14 last year.

Is their hope?  Not a lot among Wildcat fans, but this is why we play the games.  Before we look at the Gator’s let’s look at some Kentucky stats this year:

  • Kentucky is outscoring their opponents 19.3 – 13.3 this year
  • Kentucky’s opponents are running the ball better, averaging 3.60 yards a carry to Kentucky’s 3.51
  • Kentucky has not given up a rushing TD this year and have scored 3 on the ground.
  • Morgan Newton has a 111.97 QB rating as opposed to the opposing teams 96.86
  • Kentucky is outgained through the air  534-466.
  • Kentucky gains 4.6 yards per play, their opponents 4.5

We have to agree that Kentucky has faced no one near the quality of Florida thus far this season. Now, let’s meet the Gators.


Scoring: Points/Game:   37.7

Rushing: Yards per Attempt:  4.93

Rushing: Attempts/Yards/TD: 128/631/8

Passing Rating:  144.76

Passing Yards:  696

Total Offense: Yards per Play 6.4


RB/WR/KR Chris Rainey

Florida’s “do-it-all” runningback currently leads the team in rushing and receiving, has 563 all-purpose yards, and already has a number of highlight reel plays. His speed is devastating and when he catches the ball in space, he is nearly impossible to tackle one-on-one.  Against Tennessee last week, Rainey had 108 yards rushing, 104 yards receiving, and a blocked punt.  Rainey can score from anywhere on the field as evidenced by his 83 yard TD reception last week against Tennessee.


No John Brantley is not Tim Tebow.  Nor is the cannon armed pocket passer that Gator fans have envisioned him being.  But he is a big improvement over the 2010 version of John Brantley thanks to offensive guru Charlie Weis.  Weis is great at evaluating talent and he has not asked Brantley to do much more than manage the game this year and get the ball to Chris Rainey and the playmakers.  Brantley has 637 yards on the season passing this year and has thrown for three TD’s versus 2 INTs.  To be honest, Weis has not needed Brantley to be more than a game manager through three games, but with Alabama and LSU looming on the schedule for UF, look to Brantley to try to air it out more.


With Rainey being all world, the Gators seems to have forgotten about Demps after his season opening 105 yards rushing.  Demps is averaging 6.8 yards a carry and has found the end zone twice on the ground, as well as caught 8 balls.  The offense is more Rainey oriented this year, but Demps is not that much of a drop off in talent and he still can hurt you.

RB/WR/KR/QB/TE Trey Burton

Florida has a lot of versatile players who can beat you in a number of ways, and Burton is no exception. Last year against UK he accounted for a school record six TD’s and single handily embarrassed the Cat’s defense. He can play essentially every skill position on offense but has settled into more of a change of pace/fullback spot this year.  He has rushed just 10 times for 49 yards this year and caught 5 passes for 49 yards but has found the end zone three times already.  Kentucky should be well aware of him at all times however, especially near the end zone.


As of now, it’s more of a Chris Rainey offense, but Florida does have three WR’s that can burn you if Weis opens up the gameplan beyond Rainey.  If Florida gets off to a big lead, we may not see these guys, due to not showing too much of the offense before LSU and Alabama, but don’t be shocked to see either Quinton Dunbar or Andre Dubose getting their numbers called.  Former QB Jordan Reed has looked pretty solid as a TE in limited action this year also.


Florida’s run defense is the textbook definition of an immovable object. Against UT last weekend Florida yielded its fewest yards in five years. They lead the FBS in rushing defense, allowing only 92 yards on 74 attempts. UK’s running game simply can’t move any
object as the team just had its worst rushing performance in three years against a bad UL team. Part of that has been to due to the lack of a consistent pass offense to open up the running game. UF also ranks sixth in the FBS in scoring defense at 8.7 points per game.  Here are a couple of Gators to look at on the defensive side of the ball:

LB Jelani Jenkins

Jenkins is UF’s leading tackler and best player on defense. He covers the field very well and blows up plays in the backfield consistently. He has been the main cog in UF’s run defense and has to be blocked if any offensive consistency is to be maintained.

S Matt Elam
Sophomore Matt Elam is poised to break out in the Gator’s secondary.  He is a a hard hitter and manages to be near the ball on most plays.  The Gator’s secondary is better as a unit right now and does not have the “star power” as in years past, but Elam is the best bet to have big play potential. 


Pressure Brantley

QB John Brantley has been above average at best thus far for Florida and UK will need to pressure him early and often into mistakes. Brantley has had several multi turnover games in his career that has caused his team to lose to inferior opponents. His longest completions have been a dump-off to Chris Rainey that he turned into a 83 yard play.  He’s not the greatest downfield thrower as he has completed only 38.9 percent of his throws of 15 or more yards since 2009, including going 0-for-7 against Kentucky last year. Florida is also breaking in 4 new starting offensive linemen. To this point, they haven’t been really tested against UAB, FAU, and a rebuilding Tennessee team. They also have never
faced a defense like Rick Minter’s hybrid schemes, so UK has a shot to really disrupt Florida’s offense if they execute.

Contain Rainey
Florida’s offense this year has been built around RB/WR Chris Rainey. He is their version of Randall Cobb. He runs hard, catches well, and will even throw some devastating cut blocks to spring his running mate, Jeff Demps for big gains. Rainey is a team player, and he’s carried the Gators thus far. He currently leads the team in rushing and receiving yards. When I say “contain”, that would be holding to around 150 all-purpose yards. Neither Kentucky, nor most teams in college football have enough talent on defense to shut down Rainey, so limiting the amount of damage he does is UK’s only
chance of keeping the score down.

Score and Maintain Drives
If UK doesn’t score a touchdown until the end of the first half again, the game will be over at halftime. The offense has to stay on the field to keep Florida’s offense from ringing up 40 or more points. Run the ball effectively and eat up clock. Florida lost 4 d-lineman with five or more starts last year and though Florida’s stats reflect that of a dominant run defense, they haven’t faced an o-line as good as UK’s if all their starters are healthy. Also, don’t punt the ball often or settle for field goals because Florida’s special teams have been one of the nation’s best at blocking punts and field goals.


Jason Marcum:  Florida simply has too many weapons for Kentucky to account for and too much speed for UK to match up against. The talent gap between the two programs is as great as its been the last three matchups, which UF has won by a combined 152-26 score, and there’s not much difference going into this matchup. UK’s only hope is if they can force turnovers and maintain long drives to keep Florida’s offense off the field, which is also something UK hasn’t shown the ability to do consistently for an entire game. The Cat’s will come out fired up and play with heart in front of their home crowd, but talent sadly wins out in this game. UF wins 37-17

Paul Jordan:  This game can go a couple of ways.  Florida has outscored Kentucky 73-0 in the first quarter of the last three games.  Obviously, Kentucky can not get off to a slow start or this game could be as ugly as the 49-0 pasting LSU put on us in 2006.  But playing devils advocate here, let’s say that Kentucky can get on the board first, get a turnover from Brantley and be either ahead or tied at the end of the first quarter.  That would get the crowd into the game and if that did not inspire this team, nothing can.  Let’s keep in mind that this is a very young Florida team that has not played on the road or even been tested yet.  If Kentucky can come out fired out, force a quick three and out and score, the confidence level of this team will soar.  And let’s remember that Kentucky football’s biggest wins have come from games that no one gave them a chance.  In the end, Chris Rainey and the Gator D will be too much but Kentucky gets a measure of redemption, keeping the game interesting. Florida  31, Kentucky 21. 

WBN Staff writer Jason Marcum also contributed to this preview

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