Instead of looking at just our stats, this week I'm looking at Florida's, Tennessee's and Ken-tuck-ee's. Florida presents a short term opportunity while Tennessee presents a long term opportunity that deserves constant monitoring until game time.
First, let me say that I hope Jeff Driskel has a successful and complete recovery from his leg in the victory over Tennessee. Speaking of the UF-UT game , it was one of the ugliest games I've ever watched and it didn't answer my questions about Florida, Tennessee, or Kentucky.
One thing I really like about the result of the game is this:
.....Florida travels to lowly Kentucky next weekend..... Alligator Army
I sincerely hope the Florida coaches and players all feel the same way, but I wouldn't bet on that. Tyler Murphy may turn out to be the spark that Florida needs on offense and it could mean trouble for the Cats.
So, what do the numbers say?
Rushing Offense: Kentucky 213.3 (t-39); Tennessee 199.8 (46); Florida 199.7 (47)
Passing Offense: Kentucky 276.7 (35); Florida 203.7 (87), Tennessee 141.5 (114)
Passing Efficiency: Kentucky 144.22 (39); Florida 140.30 (48); Tennessee 109.7 (100)
Red Zone Offense: Tennessee 83.3% (t-63); Kentucky 78.6% (t-83); Florida 58.8% (119)
Scoring Offense: Tennessee 32 (59); Kentucky 26.7 (75); Florida 23.7 (87)
Total Offense: Kentucky 490 (t-25); Florida 403.3 (66); Tennessee 341.3 (103)
Tackles for Loss Allowed: Tennessee 13 (t-11); Florida 16 (t-41); Kentucky 16 (49)
Sacks Allowed: Tennessee 3 (t-11); Florida 4 (t-46); Kentucky 5 (t-63)
Time of possession: Florida 39 (1); Tennessee 28 (84); Kentucky 26 (110)
3rd Down Conv. %: Florida 48.9% (29); Tennessee 42.9% (t-56); Kentucky 25.6% (t-117)
4th Down Conv. %: Kentucky 80.0% (t-11); Tennessee 50.0% (t-43); Florida 0% (t-109)
First Downs: Tennessee 76 (65); Florida 64 (t-89); Kentucky 59 (t-97)
If Kentucky is "lowly," where is Florida on offense? Lowlierer?
In spite of Kentucky's decent offensive numbers, the offense is killing us with the slow starts due to dropped passes and turnovers. The lack of third down conversions are killing any momentum. Our first down offense is atrocious, leaving us with too many 2nd and longs. I was going to do the numbers on dropped passes, but someone has already done it. Credit poster "pointonezerorock" at Cats Illustrated for this. These are correctible errors. Hopefully, the bye week has helped. But remember, Florida had a bye week before the Tennessee game and it didn't help all that much.
Make no mistake, the Gator defense is good: Very Good. Smith and Whitlow are going to have to come out on the first series with some fire in their eyes if the Cats are going to have any success. The "deer in the headlights" jitters have to end sometime, and Florida presents an opportunity. Kentucky's slow starts on offense have been noteworthy for several years. That has to end. It all starts with the QBs and the receivers.
Rushing Defense: Florida 55.3 (1); Tennessee 170.3 (75); Kentucky 185.7 (88)
Passing Defense: Florida 157.0 (15); Kentucky 181.3 (30); Tennessee 248.0 (80)
Scoring Defense: Florida 14.7 (19); Kentucky 23.0 (56); Tennessee 27.5 (t-73)
Passing Efficiency Defense: Florida 82.95 (3); Kentucky 130.65 (70); Tennessee 130.88 (72)
Passes Intercepted: Tennessee 8 (t-5); Florida 6 (t-10); Kentucky 0 (No Ranking)
Tackles for Loss: Florida 6.3 (50); Tennessee 6 (t-56); Kentucky 4 (t-111)
Sacks: Kentucky 2.67 (t-25); Tennessee 1.5 (t-77); Florida 1.33 (t-90)
Total Defense: Florida 212.3 (2); Kentucky 367.0 (49); Tennessee 418.3 (82)
3rd Down Conv. %: Florida 18.9% (1); Kentucky 23.1% (6); Tennessee 45.6% (103)
4th Down Conversion %: Florida 0% (t-1); Kentucky 66.7% (t-87); Tennessee 75% (t-105)
First Downs: Florida 34 (1); Kentucky 52 (t-20); Tennessee 81 (t-88)
If Florida's offense has been a comedy of errors, the Florida defense is elite and most reliable. However, UK's defense isn't all that shabby.
The problem with the UK defense is the UK offense. Our defense simply stays on the field far too long (see Time of Possession) because of offensive sputters. Against Louisville, our defense was gassed by halftime.
Fewest Penalty Yards: Tennessee 20.5 (3); Florida 61.33 (96); Kentucky 73.3 (t-111)
Fewest Penalties: Tennessee 2.25 (2); Kentucky 8.33 (t-113); Florida 8.67 (t-116)
Turnover Margin: Tennessee +.8 (t-29); Florida -.3 (t-88); Kentucky -.7 (t-100);
Net Punting: Florida 38.09 (55); Tennessee 34.61 (95); Kentucky 33.13 (111)
Punt Returns: Florida 12.22 (34); Tennessee 8.0 (t-56); Kentucky 7.82 (58)
Punt Return Defense: Florida 7.50 (66); Kentucky 8.63 (t-77); Tennessee 8.71 (80)
Kickoff Returns: Kentucky 26.40 (20); Tennessee 24.86 (29); Florida 23.29 (42)
Kickoff Return Defense: Florida 18.00 (24); Kentucky 18.90 (39); Tennessee 22.94 (88)
As you can see, Kentucky's special teams have a long way to go from "lowly." For the school whose past could be named "Punter U", our punting has taken a nosedive for whatever reasons. I think our special teams' rankings should be in the top 40 to claim success.
Kentucky's penalty numbers tell me that our collective heads are not always in the game. Again, penalties are a correctible issue.
Offensively, Kentucky is getting very little leadership from the upperclassmen who've been around for a while. The lack of confidence exhibited by the older players thus far is pretty sad. The freshmen and the new JUCOs don't have the same mindset. There is no swagger shown by either quarterback and I believe their lack of confidence is transferring to the rest of the offense.
Am I being overly critical? Could be, but my eyes and the numbers just don't see/show a lot of leadership. As Neal Brown has pointed out, the offense hasn't been executing routine plays. I do feel that the O-line is doing their jobs.
It is a shame that we watch our defense getting better with each game, yet the offense continues to flounder. I believe our defense is capable of playing with the Gators' offense. The boys in blue, however, must get some breathers on the side line or they will falter from exhaustion.
It is incumbent that Whitlow and Smith to eliminate the turnovers and come out on the field at their opening drive and show some confidence and leadership. The receivers have to catch the ball. They have to. If they can't and won't, then why are they on the field?
It is an indisputable fact that Florida has more talent than the Wildcats. I don't believe in moral victories, but I have no problem in looking for positives in a sea of negatives. This is a home game and I would like to see the Cats score at least two touchdowns (one in the first quarter would be very nice) against a stout defense. I would also like to see the Cats keep Florida under 38 points. That's the kind of improvement I'm looking for. The prospect of actually winning this game and ending the streak is a possibility, but the probability is very low. That being said, there is a reason they play the game.
I expect Florida to ground and pound our defense in an effort to wear them down, just as Louisville did. Florida gained 262 yards on 48 attempts against Toledo and followed that up with 122 yards against Miami on 42 attempts. Against Tennessee, the Gators had 56 attempts and gained 215 yards, mostly after Murphy entered the game. Murphy had 84 yards on 10 carries and he gained an additional 134 yards through the air. He ended the day with 8 of 14, no interceptions and one touchdown. His longest completion was 52 yards.
With Murphy at the helm, Kentucky is going to have to always keep their eyes on him because he is a dual-threat kind of guy. If the Big Z (Smith) and Dupree can put some pressure on Murphy and the rest of the team holds their gaps, we might stand a chance.... if the offense produces some first downs.
This just isn't Kentucky's year for high expectations. It is, however, a year for improvement over the past two years. I believe that help is on the way from the 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes. During the interim, we can watch Kentucky grow into something new this year. While it might not come in the wins and losses, it will show up in the stats.