Two injuries and a pair of targeting penalties put Kentucky’s defense behind the 8-ball.
Before the game even began, Kentucky lost a defensive lineman. Phil Hoskins suffered an injury in warm-ups and was forced to the sideline for the third consecutive game. He was suspended for the first two games for academic reasons.
“It’s a shame.” Mark Stoops said Hoskins’ foot planted awkwardly on the final play before the Cats returned to the locker room. “I hope it’s nothing too serious.”
Kentucky’s secondary took a massive blow early when Yusuf Corker was flagged for targeting in the end zone on Florida’s second possession. His helmet did not appear to contact the Gator wide receiver’s head, but the call was confirmed, ending Corker’s night. In the fourth quarter, UK finally got pressure on backup quarterback Kyle Trask. Unfortunately, the officials ruled a targeting on T.J. Carter when the defensive lineman became the second Wildcat to wrap up the quarterback. Instead of a loss of five yards, Florida gained 15.
“It’s very difficult. I’m not saying at all that the officials are making the wrong call. We got a chance to win the game and we get a targeting. It’s — something’s got to be done with that rule and call. Putting laundry on the field,” Stoops said after the game.
The call on Carter particularly bothered Kentucky’s head coach.
“I think there’s plays. There’s just plays. It’s one of those deals where if it’s called, it’s going to be upheld and certain things happen. Well it can be called an awful lot. To have the game decided in that moment. What am I supposed to tell my guys? My guys are fighting, clawing, scrambling, trying to get him down, giving everything they got and get that call.”
The late flag on Carter will cost him a half next Saturday against Mississippi State. Corker’s early targeting left UK’s secondary vulnerable. True freshman Taj Dodson played in his place, recovering a crucial fumble at one point. An injury ended his game in the fourth quarter, forcing another true freshman, Moses Douglass, into action.
Kentucky’s lack of depth in the secondary reared its ugly head in the fourth quarter as Trask moved the Florida offense methodically down the field. He probably would not have had so much time to throw the ball if Hoskins or Carter were in the game.