None of us even need to think about what we’re referencing when we say it. For 26 games we have beaten the Kentucky Wildcats in football and most years it is not even close. Enter Mark Stoops in his first year as coach. He’s going to do everything he can to get this streak ended. Kentucky will NEVER be considered a football threat until they do so. Heck, they beat LSU the year they won the BCS National Championship and no one talks about that loss. It’s the streak and with the exception of two years, 1993’s Wuerffel to Doering and 2003’s improbable comeback by Freshman Chris Leak, this is a series owned by the Gators. Is every ten year’s the time that the forces align to give Kentucky an edge over a team that generally has better talent, depth and coaching? Is 2013 the year? Let’s talk some football…
Little known fact…actually very little known…I was at both games in Lexington in 1993 and 2003 for completely random reasons. Both games were absolute heart-stoppers and the feeling afterwards when we won was none like you’ve ever experienced because we should not have won either game. We clearly should not even be speaking of a streak. Every ten years. Kentucky is an under-sized team that has very little depth, one receiver of note (Javess Blue) and two average QB’s. They do have a defense that plays hard….really, really hard…but they are very small and not deep at all. They took it to Louisville for a half and were it not for two turnovers in the red zone we could be talking about a big upset. Of course, Louisville kept trying for the homerun throw in the first half before settling for short routes in the second to move the ball. Kentucky has had a bye week to prepare and Mark Stoops knows us from his days as defensive coordinator at FSU. They will have a solid game plan and I’d expect it to be uncomfortable for the first half. However, it is really not difficult to know what the Florida game plan will be. We will run the ball and try to knock the other team off the line and keep pounding and pounding it. It is whether Kentucky can stop us or not. There are A LOT of people right now who think we are primed for an upset this weekend based upon our significant losses this week. The streak is going to come to an end, but not this weekend.
Coach Muschamp doesn’t put any faith in the streak and justifiably so. You can’t run a team off such things. He also is, clearly, not the type who is going to change his ways either. It isn’t pretty but he is winning games so we have to go with it. I would expect quite a bit from Mack Brown this weekend. Matt Jones has 2 fumbles in 2 games and we absolutely can’t afford any turnovers in this game. Maybe we survive 1 turnover and possibly 2, but if we get into 3+ then UK will know this could be their time. I’ve given up on expecting any downfield passing so any that we have will be bonus territory in my mind. I would expect Brent Pease and Joker Phiilips to try something very early on to test the waters in their return to Lexington. It will possibly be the first play or in the first series. That’s just a guess on my part. It is still Muschamp’s team and we’re gonna run. The loss of Easley will be seen in weeks to come but probably not this week. We still have significant depth and talent on the defensive side of the ball and Kentucky hasn’t seen anything like this yet. Finally, Tyler Murphy will be fine. I don’t foresee him trying to do to much. Just move the ball and get first downs. The rest will take care of itself. I am secretly hoping for us to return a Kickoff for a Gator TD, but that’s a whole different discussion. Florida 24 Kentucky 13. Game time is 7pm EST, 4pm PST on ESPNU—look for me in the crowd in the Gator section. A good night to join your local Gator Club because a Gator Victory over Kentucky on the road at night is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.
Interior of the University of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mrs. TGN and Grandpa TGN along with yours truly in Lexington, KY this past weekend. Not one Kentucky Wildcat mentioned anything about my 2006 Florida Gator National Chammpionship hat (as seen in the picture above).
Was able to get away with the wife this past weekend and join my dad for a Kentucky-Louisville football game. The Wildcats are our upcoming opponent in two weekends and have a new coach in Mark Stoops. The short of it, UK is under-sized and lack overall depth and talent. They play hard–extremely hard–for their coach and my guess is that the first half will be interesting. Probably more interesting if we start turning the ball over. They have improved noticeably since losing to Western Kentucky in the opening game. More next week on this game.
Always good to join my dad for these events.
A nice photo below of Commonwealth Stadium nine minutes before kickoff. The stadium did eventually fill up mid-way through first quarter, but was pretty empty for awhile. Basketball remains king in the Bluegrass state.
Nine minutes before kickoff at Commonwealth Stadium
I ask that because this season is shaping up to be some of the finest roundball we’ve ever played as a Gator team. I went back and watched highlights from the 2006-2007 teams and have to admit that they were a level-above most teams they played. The two National Championships speak for themselves.
Our team this year is much smaller and about as thin as those teams Championship teams were. We had a great initial run in the SEC schedule winning 10 in a row, but lost last week at Arkansas. Truth be told, Billy has never had great success at Arkansas on their home floor. The loss, while very unexpected for this team, was not surprising overall. We weren’t going to continue the harassing defense every game and the hot shooting from 3-point land. We were due for a lull. As it turns out the last three games have been a bit of a lull overall.
Our 3-point defense has been incredible all season holding opponents to 27 percent shooting…the last three games have seen opponents shoot 41 percent including the Razorbacks 8 of 18 from three point range. That’s not how we’ve been winning games and it appears that Billy has been working the team extra hard the last few days at practice in preparation for the Kentucky Wildcats. Both Sunday and Monday’s practices were defense-centric. The other reason is that we will be without Will Yuegete for the remainder of the regular season. That’s absolutely gonna hurt when we full court press moving forward because Yuegete is the centerpiece of the press and how the ball moves is dependent on how Yueget reacts. We’ve had enormous success with our press and let’s not forget his near 7 rebounds a game. Yep—this is going to come back to bite us. Here’s hoping we get him back near the end of the regular season. Yuegete’s arthrocopic surgery went well (according to his tweet) and now it is on to the physical therapy with the athletic trainers who are in the top tier of their business.
Our defense is key to our success and that all starts with Scottie Wilbiken out front. We have not been the same team when “The Wildebeest” is starting and playing well. It is not strange that all three of our losses happened when we did not have the services of Wilbiken or we had poor play by him. He’s been the bedrock of the defense and has shut down some of the best scorers in the league. We’re getting ready to go against Kentucky at home. If we are to contend with their talent and athleticism, we will need The Wildebeest at his most intense best. Further we will need significant contributions from Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II. Frazier has proven reliable at three point range and an adept rebounder. We need Prather ball-hawking on defense. It also wouldn’t hurt to have Patric Young dominate the middle against UK’s 6-10 and 7 foot post players (Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein). Our inside shots will not come easy and if our 3-pointers aren’t falling our main recourse is defense….it’s has to be seriously intense.
The game tomorrow night is on ESPN at 7pm EST and 4pm PST. If you’re not watching the Gators play this season, it might just be time to start tuning in to their games. We are playing very well as a team. We have some more work to do, but this team has bought into what Billy is selling. Maybe you should buy some too. If your local Gator Club is hosting a viewing part, that would be a great time to join them since Victory, especially over Kentucky basketball, is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.
After two very hard fought Victories on the road with a complete defensive shut down of the opponent in the second half, we are now headed back home to face an unassuming challenger in the Kentucky Wildcats. We’re hearing all this talk about hanging “half a hundred” on the Wildcats by our offense. Not sure that anyone realizes that we’ve only done this six times in 62 meetings….and we’ve only had one half out of six where our offense clicked. I’m all for scoring more points, but let’s not put the cart before the horse. Let’s talk some football…
Kentucky was beat by a very bad Western Kentucky Team last week that was absolutely pummeled by Alabama. So as logic dictates, we will now score 187 points on Kentucky. Let’s take a closer look, shall we. Kentucky has running attack that is minimal compared to Florida’s at this point and they rush by committee with Jonathon George leading the way last week and Raymond Sanders leading the team overall. Regardless, they put up only 44 yards rushing against WKU. Their QB, Maxwell Smith, on the other hand is quite prolific and has spread the ball around to 11 different receivers and has almost 1000 yards passing to date. If you are not keeping track that’s about 500 more than we have. They have also tallied 30+ points twice this season…which we’ve only attained once. I will not-so-quietly point out that we played horrible in our one game at home this season. OK, in all reality we win this game, but I can’t buy into the talk about hanging half a hundred on Kentucky until I see us be more consistent on offense…and defense. Let’s face it our first halves this year have not been impressive….and we’ve brought serious firepower to our Kentucky games before and almost got beat (1991 Shane Matthews leads a late TD to secure a win and the SEC against a UK team that down 28 points in first quarter only to trail 28-23 in the 4th, Wuerffel to Doering, Chris Leak‘s 21-point deficit come from behind Victory in the 4th quarter, 2007 where we matched TD for TD and no defense was played in a 45-37 game, etc). We’ve had the blowouts as well, but like I said, we had the firepower. We appear to have firepower this year…but this jury is still out until I see more. We’re still gonna win, though.
The second half against UT was good for the Gator collective. We are beginning to see the development of this Gator team. The defense seems to be further ahead of the offense at this point, but neither has put together a complete game this year. That’s really what I would like to see from the defense this week. Kentucky is more or less one dimensional. Our secondary needs to step up and shut down the Wildcat passing attack. We were able to do so for a half against UT, but I’m looking for the the “Package, Total T!” (read: The Total Package) this week. I’m not concerned with 50 points, I’m looking at ZERO as in a shutout this week. If our defense is getting better and playing better as a team then that’s my goal for this weekend. We will win this season with our defense shutting the other team down and putting our offense in a position to have more scoring opportunities. The letdowns in the past have come as a result of big games played before and after the UK game. We had a big game last week and a big one next week—regardless we have to focus on THIS week. Strangely, I was at all the games I mentioned in the paragraph above, so no worries this year, as I’m 7000 miles away from this weekend’s game. I going all in on the defense this weekend and just looking for a great game running by Mike Gillislee and adding positive numbers to our turnover ratio (currently at +3). Florida 35 Kentucky 0. Game time is 12:21pm EST, 9:21am PST and 7:21pm here in Kuwait, so it’s breakfast on the west coast and a reasonable time here in the Middle East. I hope you are joining your local Gator Club where a 26th straight Victory over the Wildcats is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.