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Kentucky vs. Florida - A first look at the Gators

The Gators come to town next week as the current #19 team in the country. For Florida fans who have been used to Spurrier’s “fun and gun” and Urban Meyer’s spread offense, the Will Muschamp version of the Gators is frustrating.


Will Muschamp uses a much more conservative approach on offense even though he has one of the brightest offensive minds in the game as his offensive coordinator. Florida fans, however, are not pleased with Brent Pease’s offense. Then again, Florida no longer has Percy Harvin, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, or anyone of that caliber.

Here's what Florida fans are griping about:

The current strategy is a break with basically a half-century of history. Only those college football fans and observers who remember the Bob Woodruff era in the 1950s have experienced a situation like today where the plan in Gainesville is to win with a crushing defense and just enough offense. - Team Speed Kills

This all may be complicated to a Kentucky fan which will see nothing wrong with Muschamp's approach, but Florida fans are used to scoring a lot of points, uh, like almost 50 points a game.

I went to the Swamp in 2008 and watched the Gators lay 63 on the Cats. Last year, they only scored 38 against us in Gainesville. For me, as a Kentucky fan, the 38-0 beating was just as humiliating as that 63-5 drubbing. For a Florida fan, those 38 points are a prime example of a conservative offense. Is that a bad example of the Theory of Relativity? So be it.

In 2012, Florida ranked 39th in Rushing, 114th in Passing, 76th in Scoring (26.46ppg) and 103rd in Total Offense.

They beat Bowling Green 27-14, Texas A&M 20-17, Tennessee 37-20, Kentucky 38-0, LSU 14-6, Vanderbilt 31-17, South Carolina 44-11, Missouri 14-7, Louisiana-Lafayette 27-20, Jacksonville St. 23-0, and Florida State 37-26. They lost to Georgia 17-9 and Louisville 33-23 in a shocker for Florida fans who didn't even bother going to the game. Florida lost $800,000 for that bowl appearance. Florida fans like to point out to Kentucky fans the fact of the 38-0 beating in the Swamp. Kentucky fans can respond with a "Big whoop" by pointing out that Vanderbilt beat us 40-0 at Commonwealth Stadium.

In 2008, Florida ranked 10th in Rushing, 61st in Passing, 4thin Scoring (43.64ppg) and 15th in Total Offense.

They beat Hawaii 56-10, LSU 51-21, Kentucky 63-5, Georgia 49-10, Vanderbilt 42-14, South Carolina 56-6, The Citadel 70-19, and Florida State 45-15. On "bad" days, they beat Miami 26-3, Tennessee 30-6, Arkansas 38-7, Alabama 31-20 and Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS Championship game. If you'll recall they lost to Ole Miss 31-30 causing Tim Tebow to apologize to the Gator fans. Just for a little contrast, Steve Spurrier's 1996 national champions were #1 in Scoring Offense (46.6ppg),  and #2 in Total Offense.

So, the legacy of potent offenses has been busted, not by Brent Pease, but by Will Muschamp. SBN's Alligator Army had a great piece on how Florida fans felt going into the Miami game a couple of weeks ago. You can read it here.  If you take the time to watch the video of the Florida offense against Toledo, you'll wonder: "What's the problem?"

Here's the problem: This is not the Florida offense we grew to "love," if not appreciate.

Florida comes a'knockin' at our door next Saturday. For the UK fans whose glass is always full, they'll believe in a possibility or maybe even the probability of a win based on nothing more than the fact that they're Kentucky fans and can't accept the reality of the situation.

Florida having the #3 defense is the reality. Florida having more talent is the reality. Florida owning us for 26 years is the reality. We'll find out the "real" reality after the UF-UT game.

For others, looking better than the last two years is all that matters because they know the table that was laid in front of Stoops. I'm in this camp. The food on the table wasn't of his making, yet he has to eat it, and It is like having a Big Mac for Thanksgiving dinner.

Florida hosts Tennessee this weekend in the Swamp. Tennessee and Butch Jones got their collective rear-ends handed to them last week at Oregon while Florida had the week off to lick their wounds after losing to The U.

Tennessee, after beating Austin Peay 45-0 and Western Kentucky 52-20 in the friendly confines General Neyland's stadium, had a trip to see the Ducks and it was a wash-out in Eugene 59-14.

Unlike years past, Oregon looks like they have a defense. Upon closer examination, their 30th spot in the NCAA ranking for Total Defense puts them behind Southern California (#4), Washington State (#11), Arizona State (#21), Arizona (#23) and Colorado (#27) in the PAC12. Washington State? Mike Leach's Washington State?  Uh, yup. Go figure. Just remember, the PAC12 is NOT known for its defense.

So, with that bit of information, Tennessee fans don't really have any idea how good or bad their Volunteers are. All they know is that they were no match for #2 ranked Oregon's shock and awe offense which is averaging 672 yards per game. The Ducks opened by hammering Nicholls (who? ) 66-3 and Virginia 59-10 in Charlottesville before dismantling old Rocky Top.

Is Florida any good, or any better, than Tennessee this year?  In their two games, they beat Toledo in a yawn-fest and then lost to Miami 21-16 down in Miami Gardens. They've had an extra week to get ready for Tennessee, but if Muschamp has not decided to unleash Brent Pease and let him be the OC he's known to be, this game is not going to all that exciting, and it could be close.

Toledo, after losing to Florida, lost to Missouri 38-23 and then beat Eastern Washington 33-21. Miami, before beating Florida beat Florida Atlantic 34-6.

I find that the prospect of Florida and Tennessee will give everyone an idea where both teams truly stand in the SEC pecking order. The fans of both schools will be looking for improvement in a lot of areas. It'll be worth watching because it is a rivalry game.

Just for what it's worth, according to Jeff Sagarin, Florida has played the 23rd toughest schedule and UT the 143rd toughest schedule so far .