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It’s GAMEDAY!!! Kentucky fans have had this game circled on their calendars for a long time and the wait is finally over! Let’s dive right in to 5 Things You Need to Know About the Florida Gators.
1) Florida has Injuries too
- All of #BBN’s focus has been on Terry Wilson’s injury, but Kentucky isn’t the only team entering this evening’s game with major injuries. The Gators will be without Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney and starting Cornerback C.J. Henderson. Toney left the last game with a left arm injury while Henderson suffered a left ankle sprain. Through just 5 quarters of play before sustaining his injury, Kadarius Toney caught 3 balls for 72 yards and a touchdown. He is a versatile playmaker, a la Lynn Bowden, who was used as a Wildcat QB, rusher, and obviously at receiver. C.J. Henderson is coming off a very good 2018 season where he collected 38 tackles including 3 sacks and 5 tackles for loss to go along with 2 INTs and 2 forced fumbles. You hate to see injuries to anybody, but these injuries will lighten the load slightly on UK’s secondary and should free up the receiving corps a little bit as well.
2) Battle of the Trenches
- The Florida defense lived in the Miami backfield during their Week 0 win over the Hurricanes. UF totaled 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss and followed it up with 5 more sacks and 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage against UT-Martin. Todd Grantham’s defense is aggressive and will be looking to force Sawyer Smith into some hurried decisions in his first SEC contest. Jabari Zuniga and Louisville transfer Jonathan Greenard have led the way off the edge for the Gators. Luckily, for the ‘Cats, the offensive line is probably our biggest strength and will be up for the challenge. On the other side of the ball, Florida has had to completely revamp their offensive line. They have really struggled in the run game so far this year and Kentucky’s pass rush should be able to create some havoc in the pocket for Feleipe Franks.
3) Weak Rushing Attack
- Preseason All-SEC selection Lamical Perine has struggled out of the gate this season gaining only 94 yards on his 20 carries. Quaterback Feleipe Franks is actually the second leading rusher on the team so far with 45 net yards on the ground. Dameon Pierce & Malik Davis will likely see some carriers as well, but expect Kentucky’s defense to be able to shut down the Gators rushing attack. In terms of net rushing yards, the ‘Cats have out gained Florida 415 to 281 on the ground.
4) Feleipe Franks
Feleipe Franks has been a pretty polarizing figure under center since getting the starting job in Gainsville. After an outstanding high school career, Franks has now started 23 games at Quarterback for the Gators. A season ago he threw 24 touchdowns with just 6 interceptions, but did struggle in the loss to Kentucky completing just 17 of 38 passing attempts for 232 yards and a pick. Coming off a 25 for 27 performance against UT-Martin, the Redshirt Junior is completing nearly 80% of his passes on the season with 4 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. Franks will take some shots deep and has shown that he can keep plays alive with his feet as well. Florida does have a talented receiving corps, even with the absence of Kadarius Toney so there certainly are weapons available downfield for Franks to try and connect with.
5) Looking for Big Plays
What Florida has lacked in the rushing attack so far this season they have made up for with several huge plays through the air. Through just 2 games, Feleipe Franks has been able to connect on plays of over 60 yards with 3 different Gator receivers. He has hit another for 35 yards and still another two targets for gains of over 20 yards. Kentucky’s young secondary will have to step up to limit explosive plays this evening in order to have a chance to pull the upset.