UK’s 2010 record was 6-7, including a lost to Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
UF’s 2010 record was 8-5, including a win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl.
UK is 17-44 all-time against Florida, including a 24 consecutive game losing streak.
UK lost to Louisville last week 17-24 in Lexington.
Florida defeated Tennessee 33-23 in the Swamp.
Game will be played at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky at 7pm EST.
Game will be televised on ESPN.
While many expected the Gators to be down this season with a new coaching staff, they appear to be poised for another big season. New head coach Will Muschamp isn’t running the spread offense anymore and has gotten away from using multiple quarterbacks. Muschamp hired Charlie Weiss to be his offensive coordinator. While Weiss was unable to get it done at Notre Dame, he is still one of the best game-callers in all of football. In fact, Joker Phillips chucked and said Weiss may have more speed at Florida than other coaching job he has had (including the Patriots).
The Gators offense receives a lot of attention because they have speedsters like Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. However, the defense may be the team’s strong point. On the season, they are holding opponents to 8.7 points per game. The Cats will have their work cut out in attempting to run the football as the Gators have only given up 92 rushing yards all season. Yes, that’s 1.24 yards per attempt.
Jeff Brantley will lead the offense and he will look to get the ball to Rainey and Demps as often as possible. Last year, Trey Burton torched the Cats for 5 rushing touchdowns. Burton has the ability to line up in a number of positions, but won’t be used as much as last season.
Anytime someone writes a preview about the Gators, they must mention special teams. Chris Rainey has one punt return for a score and is averaging 14 yards per return. The Gator’s are averaging almost 24 yards per kick-off return too. It’s also no secret they are one of the best teams in the country when it comes to blocking kicks. It always seems like they find a way to block one against the Cats. Special teams play likely will have a big role in the outcome of the game.
The Cats suffered a disappointing loss to Louisville last weekend. The game was sloppy and the Cats had their chances. In the end, they simply couldn’t get it done. The Cards ran the ball against the Cats and took a few shots downfield. On offense, the Cats only managed 35 rushing yards on 32 attempts. In order for the Cats to have a chance, they must run the football against a very stingy Gators defense.
While the Cats struggled, Morgan Newton showed promise last week. Newton passed for 255 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He posted a season high completion percentage of 64%. Some fans may not realize this, but Newton turned down an offer from the Gators to play in Lexington. He’ll need to play the best game of his career on Saturday for the Cats to have a shot to end the 24-game losing streak.
In his only game of the season, E.J. Fields became UK’s second leading receiver. Against the Cards, Fields hauled in 7 receptions for 57 yards and one touchdown. La’Rod King is the team’s leading receiver with 14 receptions and three touchdowns.
Many are expecting the Cats to test the Gators defense by running the “hurry-up” offense. This could be dangerous for the Cats if they don’t produce results. Time of possession has been an issue for the Cats this season as opponents have a six minute advantage. However, Joker Phillips is simply looking to find a way to get his offense going and in a rhythm.
Rick Minter was Charlie Weiss’ defensive coordinator at Notre Dame until Weiss fired him. These two probably have a better idea of what one another will try to do than anyone else they face. Minter made a lot of position changes during the off-season in trying to put playmakers in key roles. Minter’s unit will have to have their best game of the season and force turnovers if the Cats are going to keep the game close.
Keys to the game
No one is giving the Cats the slightest chance to win on Saturday. The Cats have played three non-conference teams and have looked sloppy in each game. It’s hard to imagine they will have their best game of the season against one of the top defenses in the nation. In my opinion, the Cats would need to score at least 35 points to have a chance on Saturday.
Can the Cats play a clean game? I’m talking about no penalties, no turnovers and no missed opportunities. If the Cats get in the red zone, they have to put the ball in the end zone and not settle for a field goal. They can’t afford any drops by the receivers and somehow the Cats must establish a running game. Lastly, Greg Nord’s special teams can’t afford any mistakes.
Defeating the Gators is a tall task, especially for one who is struggling to find it’s identity. Football is a crazy game and I’ve seen crazier things happen. The Gators do have Alabama next week, so maybe they overlook the Cats. Still, I’m afraid the streak extends to 25 games.
Gators win 38-17