The Florida Gators: Offense 7:00 ESPNU

Randall Cobb and the rest of the Cats travel to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for a Saturday night match-up against the #9 Florida Gators. It hasn’t been a silky smooth start to the season that Gator fans have been accustomed to over the past few years, but the Gators do find themselves sitting at 3-0 (1-0) in year 1 A.T. (After Tebow). Florida has a few things going for them though, UK has not beaten the Gators since 10-3 win in 1986 and they haven’t won at the Swamp since 1979. Add in all the 4 and 5-star talent that Urban Meyer has assembled in Gainesville and it’s a tall order to expect Coach Phillips to return back to Lexington with his first SEC road win. Kentucky will go into Saturday night’s match-up with a legitimate chance to shock some people and walk out with a win and here’s why. Florida has struggled to manufacture points all season. Take away the stellar defensive play by this Gator team and the legitimately could be staring down the barrel of a 1-2 start. Their defense has forced teams into coughing up the football as the lead the NCAA in INTS (10) and rank 2nd in turnover margin at 2.33 a game. How do these stats give the Cats a chance? Through 3 games, there is 1 team out of 120 in Div 1-A that has not turned the ball over once, Kentucky. 0 turnovers through 12 quarters of play. I’m not predicting that Kentucky won’t cough it up once or maybe twice, but if we take care of the ball, and consistently force John Brantley and the Gator Offense to drive 70+ yards to score, it will be a ball game in the 4th quarter. Now to get you familiar with the Gator Offense:

Quarterback- The argument can be made that over the last 10 years, no one in college football has had bigger shoes to fill than John Brantley. 3 games into his first campaign as a starter, Brantley has yet to throw for more than 172 yards and has a completion percentage rating in the low 60’s, not quite the Tebowesque numbers Gator fans are used to. And where Tebow moved the ball on the ground, Brantley is falling well short in that category as well rushing for -16 yards on the year. This is certainly not the start anyone expected out of Brantley and if his play continues like it has, expect Florida to end the year with a curvy number in the loss column for the first time since ’07.

Backs- Jeff Demps has been the one bright spot on the Florida offense this year. Behind a solid and experienced offensive line Demps has been able to rush for 103.3 yds per game. He’s a speedy track star and keeping him from getting to the edge will be a priority for this Kentucky Defensive unit. Mike Gillislee seems to have played his way into the goal line back spot as he leads the team in rushing TD’s scoring on 3 of his 18 carries this season. He, like every other Gator that will touch the ball, posses great speed and is extremely dangerous in the open field. Emmanuel Moody is the other Gator that is sure to get some carries, and he’s sure to end up disappointing Gator fans.

O-Line- A veteran and experienced group that returns 4 starters from last season’s 13-1 squad has once again been a strength this season. There has been one glaring weakness and that has been senior Mike Pouncey and his shot gun snaps. Florida currently ranks 120th of 120 in fumbles (14) and 110th in fumbles lost (5) through 3 games. Most have come from the center to quarterback exchange and after assuring everyone the problem had been corrected they had another botched snap on the opening drive at Tennessee last week.

Receivers- Florida has managed to complete just over 16 passes a game this year. Their longest pass of the season was a 25 yard TD to Chris Rainey, who as of now is still off the team. The biggest threat coming off the edge is Deonte Thompson who leads the team in both catches and yards. Brantley has done a good job spreading the ball around but it will be Thompson and Carl Moore who will be the big threats as well as TE Omarius Hines.

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