It’s not going to be easy. Before I get into the keys, soak up these facts.
- In Joker Phillips’ 22 years at the University of Kentucky (head coach-2, player-4, assistant coach-16), he has never defeated the University of Florida. Ouch.
- The Gators have won eight strait SEC home openers. Saturday is their SEC home opener.
- When UK played Florida in 2007, the Cats were No. 8 in the country. They lost 45-37. In the four years since, Florida has outscored Kentucky, 200-36.
- Last year Kentucky turned it over four times in a 48-10 loss.
- Kentucky is coming off of a loss to WKU, at home. Florida is coming off one of their best offensive explosions in a long time in an easy win over Tennessee, on the road.
Yeah, it’s definitely not going to be easy.
Avoid the slow start
This was number one last week and it’s going to remain number one until something changes. All three games this season UK has played from behind. They have yet to score a point in the first quarter. In fact, they have not scored an offensive touchdown in the first quarter since November 27, 2010 at Tennessee when Derrick Locke rushed in from 17 yards out. Yeah, you heard that right…2010! In the 16 games since their last first quarter TD, they have managed a combined 31 points in the first quarter. Seven of those points were courtesy of a fumble return score last year against Jacksonville State.
Last year Florida jumped out to a 21-3 lead after the first and a 31-10 lead at half. It was over. You don’t want it to be over so early. Score early and stay in the game.
Don’t turn it over
Another easy one. A big reason for UK’s loss to WKU was Maxwell Smith’s four interceptions, even though they got the ball right back on one of them. Last year the Cats turned it over four times and those turnovers led directly to 24 points. You can’t give Florida points and you can’t take points off of the board with mistakes. Remember, if you UK wouldn’t have turned it over against U of L, they could have had a chance in that one.
Find a way to stop the run
UK has allowed at least 160 yards on the ground in their first three games and have allowed three 100-yard rushers. Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry both had 100-yard games for Louisville, and last week Antonio Andrews rushed for 125 yards. Combine this trend with the fact that Florida rushed for 405 yards, yes 4-0-5, in their win last year and things get scary. The Gators averaged nearly nine yards a carry, had two 100-yard rushers. and scored four times on the ground. And UK’s defense was much better last year.
While stopping the run is a key to the game, no evidence leads to believe that UK has a chance to pull it off.
Make big plays
The Cats are going to need big scoring plays to have a chance on Saturday. Just quick plays that put easy points on the board. I don’t care if it’s comes on offense, defense, or special teams. They need to find a way to put up quick and easy points to stay in the game.
There’s no denying that last week’s overtime loss was a tough one. With the SEC schedule on the horizon, it is something that can be demoralizing to a team. Especially a team like this with a bunch of young guys. Not matter the struggles, the Wildcats must continue to play hard every play. I know this is easy to say. But, if they come out and don’t put forth full effort, this thing could get ugly real quick. Just as it has the last four games with the Gators.
Filed Under: Football
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