The Kentucky Wildcats take on the ninth ranked Florida Gators in Gainesville, Florida Saturday. The game will be aired live on ESPNU at 7:00 pm EST.
The ‘Cats come into the matchup with an unblemished record at (3-0), but has yet to face an opponent like the Florida Gators. Ranked in the Top-15 in both rushing yards per game and points per game, Kentucky’s offense is one of the best in the nation and will be hard to stop. Starting quarterback Mike Hartline comes into the contest completing 72.0% of his passes and has yet to throw an interception.
Running back Derrick Locke had a record setting day Saturday against Akron, becoming just the seventh player in Kentucky Wildcats history to rush for 2,000 yards in their career. Locke is a dynamic back who uses his quickness and speed to get to the outside, but can also run it up the gut as well. He’s also an excellent safety valve out of the backfield and is a great option for Hartline to look to for an easy reception.
Then there is Mr. Do-it-All Randall Cobb. Cobb leads the team in receiving with 160 yards and two touchdowns, but can also get it done in a variety of ways. He has also rushed for 102 yards and one touchdown, has thrown for a touchdown, and has returned a punt for a touchdown. It’s tough to stop Kentucky when Cobb is getting plenty of touches in a variety of ways. Look for him to play a big part in Saturday’s matchup.
With the departure of former All-American Tim Tebow, the Gators are a new look team literally and figuratively. Despite being a highly touted prospect coming out of high-school John Brantley comes into the game having been Tebow’s back up for two years. He’s done a solid job on offense, but doesn’t have the passing numbers to boot: 49-of-79 for 452 yards and five touchdowns.
The ‘team speed’ aspect of the Florida Gators comes on both sides of the ball, with running back Jeffrey Demps occupying the role of ‘speedster’ on offense. At 5’8” and 190 lbs, Demps has done a solid job in both rushing and receiving, giving head coach Urban Meyer the chance to toy with how and when he uses Demps during the game. During Florida’s game against Tennessee, Demps had 26 attempts, but only rushed for 73 yards a testament to the Vols defense prowess in stopping Demps on offense.
The Gator’s biggest upside for the game will be its defense. Kentucky boasts ones of the better offensive attacks in the nation, so it will be up to Florida’s front seven to stop the ‘Cats ground game as well as getting to quarterback Mike Hartline early and often. Should the Gators do so, it will be a long day for head coach Joker Phillips in trying to figure out how to mix things up on the offensive side of the ball. There’s a lot of speed on Florida’s defensive attack, so players will get to the ball a lot quicker than teams like Western Kentucky and Akron.