But the Cats have a big task ahead of them as they try to pull the upset over a top-10 Gators team.
Florida is a 7.5 point favorite coming into Lexington for what will be a packed and raucous crowd at Kroger Field. If Kentucky is going to pull the upset and move to 5-0 on the season, these five players will be key.
#1. Will Levis
I’ll put it this way. If Will Levis doesn’t have a strong performance on Saturday, it will nearly take a miracle for Kentucky to win.
The Gators are going to key in on the running game and stopping Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke. For Kentucky to win, Will Levis is going to have to make the Gators defense respect the passing game, which in turn will open up more running lanes.
After a great Week 1 performance, Levis has seemingly been off for the last couple of weeks, and that simply can’t be the case on Saturday night.
If Levis can make some big throws and use his legs to keep drives alive, use play action to catch the defense off guard, and keep the offensive attack balanced, Kentucky has the chance to pull the upset.
If the passing game is a minimal factor, it won’t be good for the Cats. Saturday night is a major opportunity for Levis.
#2. Josh Ali
Going along those same lines, Saturday will be a prime opportunity for Josh Ali.
Ali had some ball security issues last week that must be cleaned up this week, and I think they will be, but Florida will make sure to have a focus on Wan’Dale Robinson, which means Ali must step up and make plays on Saturday.
As mentioned above, getting the passing game going early will be key, and Ali will be a crucial part of that. He has the ability to make plays in the open field while also being a deep threat.
If the Florida defense pays too much attention to Rodriguez and Robinson, Ali has to make them pay.
#3. DeAndre Square
DeAndre Square led Kentucky in tackles last week with 8 tackles and was a key part of keeping the South Carolina rushing attack in check.
Kevin Harris rushed for more than 200 yards on Kentucky last year, but last week, Harris only managed 38 yards and 3.2 yards per carry.
This week is a whole new challenge against a Florida team that boasts statistically the best rushing attack in the country outside of the service academies.
Kentucky is going to have to keep the Gators rushing attack in check, between QB Emory Jones and backup Anthony Richardson, along with the three-headed monster at running back with Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis, and Nay’Quan Wright.
Square will play a lead role in attacking the Florida running game.
#4. JJ Weaver
JJ Weaver has been Kentucky’s most consistent pass rusher and came up with a sack again last week against South Carolina.
Weaver has four sacks this season and Weaver needs to add at least one more to that total on Saturday.
Weaver will be relied on to provide pressure on Emory Jones and force him into mistakes. Jones has been prone to interceptions this season, and being able to put pressure on him and keep him in the pocket could lead to mistakes that Kentucky could take advantage of.
Kentucky needs to be able to get a pass rush from multiple players, but Weaver has continued to be Kentucky’s most dangerous pass-rushing threat, and they’ll need him to come up big on Saturday.
#5. Marquan McCall
Marquan McCall’s contributions hardly show up on the stat sheet.
He has only six tackles on the season, but McCall’s contributions come up in ways not shown on the stat report.
McCall did a great job last week of stuffing the middle of the line of scrimmage, taking on double-teams and closing running lanes up the middle.
McCall is going to need to do the same on Saturday, eating up blockers in the middle and preventing the Florida running backs from finding open lanes in the middle.
Being able to get a good push in the middle of the line will also put pressure on Emory Jones and has the potential to cause some mistakes like mentioned above.
McCall will be critical for Brad White’s defensive unit on Saturday.