By the Numbers: Florida at Kentucky

 

Gator_medium

That's Lane Kiffin's house.  via riannanworld.typepad.com

I'll go ahead and preface this post by saying I'm not quite as confident going into Saturday's game as Ken is.  After the jump (in a continuing effort to keep Howlett's good work on the level), I'll explain in a little more detail why I'm less than enthused about our chances this weekend.  Oh, and whoever that guy is who always says "not a football fan, but Kentucky basketball forever!", come on, man.  Come. On..

The following appeared on my own blog earlier today:

Tim Tebow at Kentucky
Ugh.  I hardly want to write about this.  Yes, it's football, and yes, by virtue of even playing the game, the Cats have a chance to win.  I also have a chance to go skiing down Mt. Vesuvius with Cokey the Tiger but I'm not booking any plane tickets to Italy.  No, the Gators did not look like world-beaters last Saturday at home.  Tebow did not quite look like he'd been touched with Jesus tears before he entered the game.  But they still won by 10, whether they played poorly or not.

Kentucky, on the other hand, didn't inspire much confidence in me against Louisville.  They did a good job of moving the ball when not politely handing it over to the Cards' special teams and defense, and they did put some good numbers on the board.  They did not, however, stretch the field.  If Florida keys on Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb, and we can be sure they will, then Hartline is going to actually have to play some real quarterback.  I do feel more confident in the defense, but the line still needs to improve its pass rush.  By, like, a lot and stuff.

Quite frankly, I'll gladly accept a moral victory in this game.  Anything's better than the shmusmortion the Cats put up last year, and if no one blows out a knee when the clock reads zeroes, I'll be okay with that.

Statistics can say whatever you want them to say, that's true.  The available stats for 2009 aren't terribly accurate because a) Florida's played three games to Kentucky's two, and b) Florida's played a D1-AA team and a Sun Belt team, which probably skews most of their numbers to look better than they may actually be.  Keeping that in mind, though, check it out:

Points per game: Florida, 47.0, Kentucky 36.5.  I'm calling this a push because of the aforementioned caveats.

Points allowed per game: Florida 7.3, Kentucky 13.5.  Again, we don't really know how good Florida's defense is given their first two pushovers plus Jonathan Crompton, an SEC defense's best friend.  Giving up so many points to Louisville was nigh inexcusable on Kentucky's part, though.

Yards per game: Florida 536.7, Kentucky 417.  Not bad, Cats.

Yards allowed per game: Florida 224, Kentucky 283.  At least it's less than 300.  For the time being.

Time of Possession: Despite keeping the ball for probably all of a minute in the third quarter of the Louisville game last week, Kentucky averages 32 minutes per game while Florida keeps it 29 minutes.  The difference is probably negligible given Florida's quick strike abilities.

Yards per play: Florida 6.6, Kentucky 5.9.  That's actually a lot closer than I thought it would be, but can you imagine 6.6 yards per play?  That's ridiculous.  Florida also runs 75 offensive plays per game (to Kentucky's 50) in an attempt to take a page out of Oklahoma's playbook.

Yards allowed per play: Florida 3.1, Kentucky 4.4.  Woah.  Not good, defense.  The Cats have also allowed opponents about 65 (to Florida's 57) plays per game, which is bad.  That's probably, again, a little skewed thanks to the third quarter of the Louisville game.

What's all that mumbojumbo tell us?  Well, on the surface, the Cats aren't all that statistically inferior to Florida when you consider the relative competition.  But when you look a little deeper, the thing that really scares me is the number of plays to which Florida limits its opponents, and how few yards per play they allow.  In contrast, Kentucky has let its opponents run a lot more plays despite winning the time of possession battle, and they're allowing larger chunks of yardage on defense.  That's not something we can afford against Florida, bad game against Louisville or not.

I'm hopeful that the Cats defense turns it around this week, I really am.  Some of the Gators seem to have an H1N1 problem, and Tebow wasn't quite himself against UT last week.  But, like Ken said, it's going to take some serious focus and absolutely no mistakes in all three phases of the game to win.  Go Cats.

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