The Florida Gators have won four straight games by comfortable margins since suffering their lone loss of the season in College Station followed by two consecutive Coronavirus postponements. Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Quarterback Kyle Trask, the Gators are 6-1 on the season and currently ranked #6 in the country.
Coming off of an embarrassing 63-3 loss to Alabama, the Wildcats of Kentucky will have their hands full once again down in the Swamp. If you want to spin things to the positive side you should remind yourself that Kentucky was victorious on their last trip to Gainesville when Benny Snell, Josh Allen, and company snapped a 31-game losing streak to the Gators with a 27-16 win.
Kentucky will still need to be nearly perfect to pull off this upset. With a handful of players still out due to Coronavirus concerns that task becomes even more daunting. I know that after last weekend’s 60-point loss a lot of fans don’t even want to hear about it . So, let’s just get down to business and get to know the Gators.
Another Heisman Trophy Candidate Quarterback
After going up against Mac Jones last week, the Kentucky defense will face-off with another star QB in Florida’s Kyle Trask (#11) this week. Trask actually burst onto the scene last season at Kroger Field after Felipe Franks left with an injury and Trask led the Gators from behind to defeat Kentucky.
This season, Trask has completed over 70% of his passes for 2554 yards and a ridiculous 31 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. Those numbers are absolutely eye-popping. The passing yards mark leads the Southeastern Conference while the touchdowns are the most in all of college football. He can air it out downfield and pick you apart in the short to intermediate passing game as well. Needless to say, the UK secondary is going to have to be at their best or this game could get away from the ‘Cats similar to last Saturday.
The Return of Kyle Pitts
The Florida offense obviously runs through Kyle Trask, but Tight End Kyle Pitts (#84) just might be the most dominant player in all of college football. The 6’6” 246 pound Junior has missed the last two games, but still has an insane 414 yards receiving on just 24 catches and 8 touchdowns. Yes, Pitts has 8 touchdowns in just 5 games.
Simply put, there is really no good way to cover Pitts. The Kentucky secondary has been up and down this season and how they decide to attempt and neutralize the massive Tight End will be crucial to finding any sort of success. If UK can keep Pitts out of the end zone it will be a huge “win” for the defense.
Additional Receiving Threats
Kyle Pitts will garner much of the attention today after returning from injury, but he isn’t the only talented pass-catcher on this squad. Florida’s leading receiver is Kadarius Toney (#1) who has caught 42 balls for 503 yards and found the end zone 7 times. The 6’0” 193 pound Senior athlete can do it all offensively as he also will get the ball in the backfield a couple of times a game where he has rushed for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown. Oh, and he also is an extremely dangerous punt and kick returner. Being able to corral Kadarius Toney will be critical.
Florida features three additional weapons who have all gained over 200 yards through the air. 6’4” 218 pound Senior Trevon Grimes (#8) has 22 receptions for 347 yards and 6 scores. Malik Davis (#20) is also a change-of-pace Running Back 179 yards on the ground, but is the Gators fourth leading receiver with 287 yards on 22 catches out of the backfield. Lastly, Senior Jacob Copeland (#15) is averaging over 17 yards per catch with 207 yards on just 12 receptions. All three of Grimes, Davis, and Copeland average at least 15 yards per catch. As a team, Florida is averaging just under 15 yards per catch as well.
Defense With Some Issues
Despite paying Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham nearly $2 million dollars per season, this Florida Gators defense leaves a little to be desired. They are susceptible to giving up big plays and rank near the bottom of the SEC in yards per play allowed. Additionally, they have allowed the ninth most rushing yards per carry in the SEC which should give the Kentucky Running Backs some opportunities to move the chains on the ground.
This iteration of Florida’s defense leans heavily on putting pressure on the opposing Quarterback. Defensive lineman Brenton Cox Jr. (#1) and Zachary Carter (#17) have combined for 5.5 sacks 22 QB hurries alone this season. As a defensive unit, the Gators have a sack/hurry rate of over 20%. The Big Blue Wall will have to come to play today at the Swamp.
SEC’s Best Kicker
It is unlikely that this game will come down to kicking for Florida, but if it were to happen they will be in good shape. Evan McPherson has made 43 of his 48 career field goal attempts including a 9/10 mark this season. McPherson has only ever missed one extra point attempt as well. Especially kicking at home in the Florida weather you can pretty much book a perfect game from the foot of Evan McPherson.