After their crushing loss to Southern Mississippi, the Kentucky Wildcats players and staff adopted the mantra of "This one is over, on to the next one", which is fine and all, but the next one is a showdown with the Florida Gators in the Swamp in an SEC East matchup.
Last week I posted my 5 Keys to Victory to Beat Southern Miss. They followed about two out of five of those keys and ended up losing. Hopefully, the coaching staff will pay better attention to game-planning this time around against a far superior opponent.
5 Keys to Victory
- Stop the Run- I know what you are thinking: how in the hell are the Wildcats going to stop the run against the Gators if they couldn't stop the run against the Golden Eagles? My suggestion is to prop up the weakest area of the defense and let the strongest unit do their job. Stack seven or eight in the box, depending on what the defense gives them, and let the all-world secondary go man-to-man. Will they get beat? Yeah, some but it's a lot better than getting gashed up the middle for six yards a play. It's evident Mark Stoops doesn't have the Jimmys and the Joes to get it done on the defensive line. Hopefully, he can figure out the X's and O's to stop the run.
- Make Luke Del Rio Beat You- Del Rio is a big step down from what the ‘Cats saw last week vs. Nick Mullens. Against UMass, Del Rio completed 29/44 passes. No receiver on the Florida offense went over 100 yards receiving. Like I stated in my first key, focus on stopping the run and let Chris Westry, Derrick Baity, and JD Harmon do their thing. The Gators only rushed for 107 yards against UMass. Shut down the run completely, make them throw.
- Balance the Offense- Barker and his receivers had a great first half only to sputter in the second half. When Eddie Gran attempted to get a running game going with Boom Williams, the momentum stalled when Cole Mosier was called for holding. After that, Kentucky was too far behind to run the ball. The quick strike offense is great, but it did put the defense in a tough position as they were gassed from having to constantly be on the field. The offensive line is supposed to be improved, but I was not impressed with what I saw on Saturday. To keep the defense off the field, Gran is going to have get a running game going. Barker and the receivers are the strongest players on offense, but Boom is the least utilized star on the team. At times I wonder if they sit him just to get Jojo Kemp carries. I love Jojo, but Boom gives them the best chance to win.get a running game going. Barker and the receivers are the strongest players on offense, but Boom is the least utilized star on the team. At times I wonder if they sit him just to get Jojo Kemp carries. I love Jojo, but Boom gives them the best chance to win.
- Make Adjustments. Please- One of the biggest knocks of this coaching staff is their lack of ability to make adjustments at the half or as the game progresses. I don't know if it is stubbornness, a lack of confidence in the backup players, or just an inability to coach, but something needs to change. And I'm not talking about reactionary adjustments: be aggressive and keep Florida on their heels.
- Keep Their Heads Up- The loss on Saturday is about as soul-crushing as it gets for a football team. The coaching staff and the leaders of the team are going to have to get the player back on track and motivated to pull the upset. And if they get down early or if things start to get out of hand, pick them up instead of panicking. Is this a mentally fragile team? Some would argue that it is. How do you combat that? By the coaches exuding confidence and showing that not all is lost. I saw too many coaches looking lost and panic-stricken on the sidelines on Saturday night. What kind of message does that send to the players? Attitude reflects leadership.
I can't pick Kentucky to win this game even though I really want to do it. They have just one SEC road victory under Stoops, and there is just too much history between these two teams that is negative towards the ‘Cats. I don't think Florida is very good, but I'm not ready to go out on a limb for this team yet.
Florida 24 - Kentucky 17