Friday, October 19, 2007

Florida v. Kentucky Preview

The Gators open up the second half of their season on the road against Kentucky. Kentucky is coming off of a tough win against LSU at home, while the Gators had a much needed bye week to get healthy. This is a huge match up in the SEC East as both teams have a chance to not only win the East, but win the SEC. After Kentucky's win against LSU they find themselves in place they have never been before, the top 10 of the BCS rankings. The Gators know that they still control their own destiny and the first step towards Atlanta begins tomorrow.

The emphasis in this game for the Gators on defense will be to keep Andre Woodson off balance and make him uncomfortable. To do this they are going to need switch up their defense and do more blitzing than they have been doing. So far on the season the coaches have tried to protect their young secondary and in doing so have allowed quarterbacks to sit back and pick apart the secondary. Brandon Cox has been terrible on the year, but looked like Tom Brady against the Gator defense earlier this year because he was able to dink and dunk all the way down the field because he had no pressure on him. Woodson is the best quarterback in college and if he is given time to sit back in the pocket he will shred the defense apart and it will not be a good day for the Gators. The Gators did get great news in the secondary over the bye week with the return of Markihe Anderson. Anderson had played outstanding in the secondary before getting injured and he offers the Gators some experience in the secondary that the Gator coaches can trust.

Kentucky will once again be without their starting running back Rafel Little due to a thigh bruise and their backup is also not 100%, so the pressure will once again fall to Woodson. The Gators have been pretty good about stopping the run all season against good backs, so expect Kentucky to become one dimensional in the game fairly early. South Carolina was very successful against Woodson using blitzing schemes and making him uncomfortable in the pocket in their meeting two weeks ago. Hopefully the Gators will be able to blitz him and get him to make some mistakes that they can take advantage of.

The Gators offense should get a big boost this week with the return of Andre Caldwell to the starting lineup. He played a few plays against LSU, but was nowhere near being healthy. Caldwell has said that he is almost 100% and is ready to go this week. The Gators have had a difficult time replacing Caldwell in the passing game, which has led the offense to revolve around Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin almost exclusively. Without another viable wide out teams have been able to focus in on Harvin and stop the Gators passing game from getting the big plays.

While the passing game will get a jump start with Caldwell coming back, it is more important that the Gators get their running game going early and often. The Gators finally committed to the run against LSU and were able to gash the Tigers for big yards. The Gators easily ran for more yards than any other team against LSU and they did so running the ball right at them. Kestahn Moore had a good game and it looks like he is ready to step up and be a dependable back for the Gators. The offensive line is getting better as the year goes on because the younger guys have been playing more and getting more comfortable together. The Gators have had a week off to rest and get ready for this game. Kentucky is coming off of a draining physical game against LSU last week and the Gators need to take advantage of this. They need to run the ball and move the Wildcats off the line and beat them physically. If the Gators can run the ball it will also open the passing game and allow them to move the ball well every drive.

The Gators had a disappointing first half of the season, but they still can control their own destiny going forward. They have a lot to play for and they seem to be getting better as the weeks go on and the younger players get more and more experience. The first half is over and the Gators need to forget about because their is no going back. The second half starts tomorrow and beating Kentucky will get them back on track.

Prediction: Florida 31 Kentucky 21

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