As Ryan Lemond said on yesterday’s radio show “I am tired of losing to Florida.” This sentiment reigns true throughout the entire Big Blue Nation. As a student at UK I can tell you with 100% certainty that this is the most anticipated game of the Mark Stoops era. Students are excited for this game. I cannot wait.
This is what the Cats must do to end the 30-year streak:
1. Establish the Ground Game Early
The Kentucky offense can not afford another slow start like last week. Unlike South Carolina, the Gators will capitalize on offensive mistakes. Florida has already forced 5 turnovers this season with one interception returned for a touchdown. Benny Snell and the Kentucky offensive line finally got it going last week as the sophomore rushed for 102 yards on 32 carries, but they face a tough challenge this week as Florida’s defensive line is the strength of their defense. If the Cats can get it going on the ground on their first few possessions, it will make Eddie Gran’s job much easier as the game goes along.
2. Win the Turnover Battle
The Kentucky defense has forced 7 turnovers in three games, a major key to the Cats’ success in this young season. Florida’s defense made key plays in the team’s last-second win against Tennessee, including an interception in the red zone that would have sealed the game for Tennessee had it been completed. This game will likely come down to whose defense can force the most mistakes.
3. Control the Clock
In last week’s win over South Carolina the Cats held the ball for 36 minutes, compared to just 23 minutes for South Carolina. If the Kentucky offense can convert on 3rd down at the rate in which they did in last week’s game they will be in good shape. Extending drives pays off in a big way as it allows the defense time to rest.
4. Treat the game just like any other
With all the hype surrounding the game, this may be the toughest task for Mark Stoops’ team. As Coach Stoops said earlier this week, the game is not going to be won by a sell out crowd, it will be won in between the white lines. The atmosphere in Kroger Field (*Commonwealth Stadium) will certainly benefit Kentucky, but if the Cats do not play with discipline, the 67,000 fans will leave disappointed. For the first time in a long time, Kentucky has veteran leaders that have experience winning big time games. It will pay off.
Enjoy the day BBN, no matter the outcome tonight Kentucky football is not what it used to be.