Kentucky Wildcat Football: Why UK – Florida Could be Closer than most Expect


Sep 15, 2012; Knoxville, TN, USA; Florida Gators running back Mike Gillislee (23) runs the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second half at Neyland Stadium. Florida won by a score of 37 to 20. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-US PRESSWIRE

It will be a very daunting task to go to Gainesville and just stay competitive in an environment many of UK’s players have never experienced. UK will have 44 freshmen and sophomores out of the 70 players that are on the travel roster heading to Florida this weekend. 15 of those players will true freshmen, making this the biggest opposing atmosphere they will have ever faced in their competitive sports lives. It doesn’t help either that the last time Kentucky beat Florida in football, Ronald Reagan was president.

However, this is a Florida team that, while loaded with immense talent, does have its notable flaws, as well as their ability to come into games completely flat and let teams who have no business being in the game hang around for longer than they should. Against Bowling Green this year, the Gators held just a 17-14 lead going into the 4th-quarter before pulling away with a 27-14 victory. Last season in a noon game against Furman, the Gators were outscored 22-7 in the 1st-quarter. Noon games are typically where you see more highly-favored teams get off to slow starts more, and no one doubts Florida should easily show up and win easily vs. the undermanned Cats.

The Gators will also be without arguably their best defensive player in linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who is out with a thumb injury. Their run-stuffing defensive tackle, Dominique Easley, is listed as day-to-day because of swelling in his left knee, and if he doesn’t play, he likely won’t be 100%, it will leave the Gators without two of their best front-7 players, and their run defense thus far has been the staple of their defense. Florida’s offense has relied heavily on the running game behind RB Mike Gillislee, and he enters Saturday’s contest with a sore groin that could limit him, putting more pressure on true sophomore Jeff Driskel to beat Kentucky’s defense.

The Gators are also coming off an emotional, hard-fought win on the road against a Tennessee team that was hosting college gameday, leaving Florida primed for an emotional let-down for whoever their next opponent would be.

There’s no beating around the bush here. Kentucky simply doesn’t have the talent to go head-to-head with the Gators. The Cats have to catch Florida off-guard, force several turnovers, execute at least one trick play, and they have to establish early Saturday that they believe they can win and give their whole team confidence while putting all the pressure on Florida, who has everything to lose in this game, while the Cats are playing for each other.

In other UK football news, senior defensive linebacker/end Taylor Wyndham and junior running-back Jonathan George will be game captains on Saturday. They will join permanent game captains in senior center Matt Smith and senior defensive-end Collins Ukwu at the pregame coin toss.

Good luck to the Cats this weekend.