Kentucky had no business losing to Florida.
The Cats controlled the game for three quarters before they let the game slip away in the final 15 minutes. There are so many plays that if they went differently, Kentucky would have easily secured the victory. Six stand above the rest.
1. What if Yusuf Corker didn’t get ejected for targeting?
The centerfielder of Kentucky’s secondary was a true freshman for all but two Florida possessions. One of the Cats’ top tacklers and a reliable security blanket at the back of the defense, Kentucky’s defense wasn’t the same without Corker in the game. Even so, that penalty might not have been as consequential as the T.J. Carter flag that really bothered Mark Stoops after the game.
2. What if Sawyer Smith didn’t try to be a hero in the red zone?
On the first drive of the second half, Kentucky cruised into the Florida red zone. A 23-yard Justin Rigg reception and a 21-yard A.J. Rose run put the ball on the Florida 13-yard line in about three minutes. A touchdown would give Kentucky a 21-7 lead. Instead, Smith felt pressure and was pushed out of the pocket. Before taking the sack, he tried to thread the needle. It resulted in an interception. Smith’s hustle prevented the play from becoming a pick six, but the Gators were able to make a field goal that kept the game close, close enough to mount a fourth quarter comeback.
3. What if Franks didn’t get injured?
As soon as the Florida quarterback injured his ankle on a fourth down scramble, it felt like the Gators recaptured their mojo. It also planted the idea into every fan’s head around the Big Blue Nation: “Oh no. Not another backup quarterback.” Yup, a backup quarterback beat Kentucky, again.
4. What if UK just snuck it with Sawyer?
The last play of the third quarter and the first play of the fourth quarter cost Kentucky the football game. They had an 11-point lead and two plays to get one yard. The Sawyer Smith quarterback sneak worked well earlier; so did the Kavosiey Smoke run. Instead, Eddie Gran went with A.J. Rose in the Wildcat on fourth and one, the last thing fans wanted to see. I’d like to think that a simple quarterback sneak would have moved the chains before Smith supplied a dagger to end the drive.
5. What if UK ran left on the final drive?
Kavosiey Smoke was moving the ball pretty well down the field on the final drive, typically following the right side of the line. On the final two plays before the go-ahead field goal attempt, Smoke ran right instead of following Landon Young and Logan Stenberg into the middle of the field. Following two future pros to make it an easier kick just made too much sense.
6. What If Chance Poore just made a 35-yard field goal?
It’s not too much to ask of a college kicker. We miss you, MacGinnis.