clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kentucky Football: Grades from the Wildcats’ win over Florida

What’s not to like about Kentucky’s 27-16 win at Florida?

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, Kentucky put together their best combination of offense and defense in a game against the Florida Gators since 1986.

The Wildcats gained over 300 yards on the ground and managed two touchdowns through the air, while holding Florida to just 16 points at The Swamp. With that being said, here are the offensive and defensive grades on the Week 2 Report Card.

Offense: A-

As mentioned above, Kentucky slaughtered the Gators’ rush defense in a style that seemed foreign for a Gator team at home. What the common eye probably didn’t notice was that the men up front blocking for Benny Snell Jr. not only gave their running back monster gaps but also went the entire game without a QB hurry or sack.

Without their star left tackle and against a Florida team that prides themselves on defense, that’s saying a lot. The offensive line, full of unheralded guys that needed a lot of developing to just to become SEC-level starters, abused former four and five-star recruits along Florida’s front seven.

Speaking of, Snell was ranked 876th nationally as a recruit in the Class of 2016, and I would venture to guess at least 90 percent of the players on Florida’s defense ranked higher than him, yet Snell was clearly better than them all and was easily the best player in this game.

While quarterback Terry Wilson tossed two touchdowns and ran in one, he did cough up the ball twice more for his second straight multi-turnover game, which was really the only reason the offense didn’t get an A+ grade.

Lynn Bowden finally had his breakout game and caught his first career touchdown, which will go down as one of the biggest of his career, regardless of what happens going forward.

Kentucky managed to get by with the inefficiency on Saturday but if they want to have the season they dream of, turnovers will have to be cut down.

Defense: A

Florida ran up more than 50 points in their week one opener, raising red flags for Kentucky fans heading into Saturday’s game. However, as they did in their own season opener, the Wildcats answered the bell once more.

Kash Daniel & company held the Gators to just 128 yards and no scores on 4.4 ypc on the ground. That was a big upgrade over 186 yards and two scores on 5.2 ypc a year ago, not to mention 244 yards and two scores on 4.8 ypc the last time they clashed in Gainesville in 2016.

Winning in the trenches is why we saw Kentucky win in Gainesville 27-16 just two years after losing 45-7 in the same stadium.

Kentucky’s secondary did give up two passing touchdowns but held Feleipe Franks to under a 50% completion rate while also forcing an interception and strip-sacking Franks resulting in a fumble returned for a touchdown.

The dropped pick-six by Mike Edwards late was painful, and they ended up allowing a touchdown on that drive, but they still did great to hold the home team to just 16 points.

This is far and away the most veteran-rich roster Mark Stoops has ever fielded. Throw in that he personally recruited every player and has implemented a system for each player to grow in and the upside surrounding these Wildcats is tremendous.

There were a few blemishes on Saturday, but none that one wouldn’t expect from a team playing in a tough road environment.

Special Teams: A-

Sometimes, no news is good news, especially when it comes to Kentucky vs. Florida. After all, this used to be a matchup where the Gators’ special teams terrorized Kentucky.

Whether it was big gains by Florida returners or blocked punts returned for touchdowns, this has been an area dominated by the Gators more often than not during the 31-game losing streak.

But Saturday, Kentucky’s special teams never allowed Florida to make a game-changing play. They held Adarius Lemons to just 47 yards on two kickoff returns (before he abruptly transferred).

The punt coverage did allow Freddie Swain to break off a 25-yard punt return in the second quarter, which setup a short field that Florida converted into their only touchdown for the first 56 minutes of the game. Other than that, the coverage teams were great.

Max Duffy’s numbers don’t look great (4 punts averaging 39.9 yards), but he had two punts down inside the 10-yard line, including one to the 1-yard line with the Cats up 21-10 with 8:41 left.

After Florida ate up five minutes on their ensuing touchdown drive, Duffy then got a punt down to the Florida 6-yard line on the next drive with just 29 seconds left. Those two kicks were absolutely clutch and crucial to Kentucky holding on for the win.

On the kicking side, Mile Butler once again did not attempt a field goal while converting all three extra points.

There are 10 games left in the 2018 season and each one will surely be interesting for long-awaiting Cats fans.