We all knew the ‘Cats would have their hands full with the Florida Gators down in Gainesville. We know about the 26-year streak, and they have the leading rusher in the SEC. We remember QB Maxwell Smith banging up his shoulder in the last game, but everyone says he’s just fine. If the offense can match Florida’s explosive run game and the defense can maintain some stability, we may have a chance late in the game. Right?
After the kickoff sails out of bounds, that’s the first bad sign. It’s not horrible, but you give Florida a few extra yards. A bad kick doesn’t matter if your defense can get your opponent off of the field. What does the defense do on the first Florida drive? They shut the Gators down. The defense holds heir ground, and now we can bring out Smith and our offense to throw a dagger into the Florida faithful. Max Smith gallops onto the field and..wait, that’s not Max Smith. Joker said he was fine all week, but now he’s sitting on the bench in favor of Morgan Newton. Social media began to blow up because of the Big Blue Nation. Fans flocked to twitter and made “Morgan Newton” the #1 trending topic, and for all the wrong reasons. Some furious, and some just in total confusion. Kentucky was already without defensive leader Mister Cobble. Now, the ‘Cats are without their starting quarterback. Bad sign #2 for the Wildcats.
The offense comes onto the field and burns less than 2 minutes off of the clock, moves 41 yards, and mostly because of the play of emerging star Jonathan George and Raymond Sanders. Kentucky turns the ball over on downs after a failed 4th down attempt. Luckily, Florida’s offense looks very sluggish early. After a messy 1st down, the Gators never recovered. The defense forces another Gator punt. However, the kicker burns the Wildcats by launching the kick all the way to the Kentucky 8-yard line. The ‘Cats will now have to drive 92-yards for a score.
With the offense still out of sorts without Maxwell Smith, the ‘Cats could only significantly move the ball because of running plays. When you become a one-dimensional offense, you become predictable. The Florida defense held the ‘Cats to only 9 yards in 6 plays and forced the punt. The punt goes 41 yards, and the Gators have good field position starting at their own 42-yard line. After the defense had forced two straight punts. they allowed Florida QB Jeff Driskel to run 38 yards down field and grabbed his facemask on the tackle. After the 48-yard play, the Gators tacked on a field goal at the end of the drive to make the score 3-0.
With 5:18 left in the first quarter, the ‘Cats needed to answer back. After the kick goes out of the endzone, the Kentucky drive starts at their own 25-yard line. After Newton misses on two passes, Jonathan George keeps the drive alive with a 1st down run. George and Raymond Sanders carry the drive all the way to the Florida 37-yard line. After Morgan Newton misses another pass on 3rd & 6, Joker makes the decision to try and attempt a 54-yard field goal after failing on their last 4th down play. Kentucky kicker Craig McIntosh lines up and misses the uprights, and the ‘Cats are still scoreless. Bad sign #3.
After a 9-yard pass, Driskel gets sacked by the UK defense on 2nd & 1. After the ‘Cats pinned Florida to a 3rd down and 7 situation, the defense allows Driskel to find an open receiver for a 24-yard pickup. The only good news for Kentucky is the first quarter is over, and you’re only down by 3.
At the beginning of the 2nd quarter, the good news begins to run out for Wildcats. Gator running back Mike Gillislee runs four straight plays for 25 yards. After a short pass, Gillislee is set up for an easy 1-yard touchdown run through the defense. Gators lead by 10, and it’s only the start of the 2nd. With the game already becoming an up-hill battle, the ‘Cats drive down the field behind Jonathan George and Raymond Sanders. With the drive on the move, Morgan Newton drops back and throws a pass that’s caught by a player not wearing blue and white for a 24-yard reverse of the field. The Wildcats are now down by 10, Florida has the ball with 23 yards to go. After a penalty against Florida and an incomplete pass, QB Jeff Driskel fires down field towards the endzone and the ‘Cats pick off the pass. The defense is playing well, but only in spurts. After 3 plays, Morgan Newton throws another interception right back to the Gators who return the pass 28 yards for a touchdown. Bad sign # I’m not going to keep counting these.
With 8:24 before halftime, the ‘Cats are now down 17 points and the same old scene is playing out before your very eyes. Florida begins to run up the score and break the back of every UK player, coach, and fan. The rest of this game will not be detailed and wrote out like the previous quarter and a half because this is a Kentucky blog site. Much like the Kentucky football team did against Florida, I give up on trying to write anything good or promising about the future of this program until I see otherwise. The Kentucky radio announcers began calling out the team for “conceding” defeat before the game was even over. There are rumors now that redshirt QB Patrick Towles will evaluate a possible transfer out of the program at season’s end. Before the game clock expired, I was wondering when the mercy rule would come into play. If there was one available, Kentucky would have used it.
The Wildcats haven’t beaten Florida since 1986, haven’t won in Gainesville since 1979 and haven’t been all that competitive in the last five meetings. Florida has outscored Kentucky 238-36 in those five games. Kentucky was also held completely scoreless for the first time since 1996. Florida had more INT return yards than Kentucky had passing yards in the first half. With the 38-0 drubbing from Florida, Kentucky’s average margin of defeat now stands at 29.4 points per game in their last 7 SEC losses.
The most disturbing thing you can see from any program is someone giving up. Especially when that someone is standing on the sidelines. Calling short pass plays and conceding to getting your rear=end handed to you is sickening to see, period. One of the most sickening statements I have seen in a while was during Joker Phillips’ post-game interview. He said in this offense you have to pass and catch, and today we didn’t do that. And then regarding Morgan Newton, coach said he believed Newton was throwing to the right guy, but we were not very accurate today. Football itself is pass and catch. If you can’t do either of those, then you don’t play football. All I want to see is purpose, and a fight. As a fan, I’m not even getting that.
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: Writer for StraitCats.com, lifelong UK fan, college sports enthusiast. Twitter: BrianLewis_SP