Tomorrow, we visit the Swamp in Gainesville for a tough game with the Florida Gators. Every Kentucky football fan knows that Florida has won 21 games in a row and counting against Kentucky, and even though the 'Cats are way past due, an honest examination of the game, especially down at their place, would have to figure the Wildcats as an underdog.
As we try to do as often as possible throughout the season, we have a Q&A this week with a blogger from the team that we are playing. This week's Q&A is with mlmintampa at Alligator Army, the outstanding SB Nation Florida Gators blog. As usual, my questions will be in bold. You can find my answers to his questions at Alligator Army.
The Gators seemed to get off to a slow start this year, somewhat surprising considering the return of Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and the maturation of the offensive line and defensive secondary. What is your opinion of Florida's season so far versus the expectations for this year?
The expectations for every season are an undefeated run to the National Championship, no matter how absurd that might be. Florida fans will think the team is the best in the nation, watch them lose horribly, and then believe they are going to finish 10th in the league. Of course, we no longer think the sky is falling and hope Florida running the table and winning in Atlanta is entirely possible.
The Gators played a pretty complete game against a tough LSU squad in the swamp. Have they put to bed the offensive concerns that had to be plaguing Florida fans this year?
It's strange because the Ole Miss game was clearly a lack of focus where Tennessee and LSU was the opposite. The offensive concerns were addressed when Jeff Demps destroyed LSU by squeezing through holes and then turning on his Olympic-quality speed. The offensive line does not seem capable of making holes for a "traditional" running game, so undersized guys like Demps are the answer. As for play calling, our feelings about offensive coordinator Dan Mullen change daily.
Florida is leading the SEC with red-zone conversions, scoring 96% of the time, and is the highest scoring team in the SEC. Kentucky is leading the SEC in scoring defense at less than 12 points/game. This looks like the case of the unstoppable force against the immovable object. How will the Gators overcome UK's defense?
Um, yeah, but Kentucky played a few high school teams this season, a bit different from SEC play. The thing is that Florida's offense is more dynamic than anyone else UK has played. But if they follow the Mississippi Plan (turnovers, blitz the hell out of Tebow), UK can pull this one out too.
Florida is dead last in the league in tackles for loss. Is that due to the type of defense they play, a young d-line, or what? Do you think that will be a problem for them versus UK?
The d-line does suck, which is why LB Brandon Spikes is the team MVP so far. I think against a team with a complete offense (like Georgia) UF is in trouble because the LBs can't cheat to fill the holes and the DBs will be in trouble on play action. The worst thing is that UF is so desperate to get pressure, they will send a corner, easily the dumbest blitz possible. Again, UK would be wise to watch the Mississippi game when Jevon Snead didn't have the stats, but made the big plays.
Looks like the bye week has helped Florida get a bit more healthy, but UK is going to be banged up coming into Gainesville. Other than Percy Harvin's ankle limiting him slightly, are there any significant injuries Florida fans are concerned about?
Not really. O-lineman Jim Tartt has a bum shoulder, but everyone is 100 according to Meyer. Plus, the Gators should have a full stable in the backfield after a scare when Chris Rainey pop out his shoulder against LSU. But remember, the slugfest between Florida and Kentucky last year led to a Tebow injury. Against UGA the next week, he was playing at 75-80 percent and UF lost. Gator fans are hoping the same is not true this season.
What part of Florida's defense broke down against Ole Miss? Florida clearly scored enough points to win, but what caused them to surrender so many?
Inexperience, youth, focus and the inability to rush the QB. The deep balls Snead was able to convert was because he had enough time in the pocket to eat a sandwich before he threw the ball. It didn't help they all thought they would walk over the Rebs. This defense is still a year away and the Ole Miss game proved it. I don't care how well they played against Tennessee and LSU.
Who do you think wins this game, and why? Predict the final score.
The last line is 24.5. I think UK covers, but Gators 37-17. But they better not be looking forward to Georgia because an upset will jump up and bite them in the ass.
Thanks to mlmintampa for doing the Q&A with us. We are looking forward to a great game.