It took awhile for Florida to get itself going, but they eventually did do exactly that and rolled away from Kentucky. What stood out in the victory?
A tale of two halves
Florida’s offense was stuck in reverse for most of the first half, mustering a grand total of seven points on a defensive breakdown by Kentucky and turning it over on a fumble by Justin Shorter. The defense wasn’t much better, surrendering at least two first downs on each of Kentucky’s first two drives- including a touchdown pass to tight end Keaton Upshaw over Donovan Stiner. The second half? The inverse. The Gator offense was granted a reprieve and made the most of it, scoring 20 points to. put the game out of reach. And Florida’s much maligned defense pitched a shutout in the final thirty minutes and didn’t even allow a first down until the Cats’ final drive of the game. Kentucky finished the game with 221 yards; 180 of them came in the first half.
The fumbles are concerning
This is the time of year where the Gators should be strengthening up some weaknesses and fine-tuning some problems. Instead, a new problem emerged- Florida fumbled the ball away multiple times for the first time all year. First, Shorter put it on the ground after a quick catch and Kentucky fell on it to set up their lone touchdown drive of the day. And later, up 31-10, NayQuan Wright entered a mass of humanity at the line of scrimmage and coughed it up, potentially giving Kentucky a lifeline back into the contest. Florida’s defense held on downs, but given how the games are only going to get bigger moving forward, that’s something that’s going to have to disappear, and fast.
James Houston IV is back- and he’s a force
Being sidelined for two games with a nagging hamstring injury ate and ate away at Houston, the junior linebacker from American Heritage. So he came back today and made up for it by leading Florida in both tackles (eight) and tackles for loss (two and a half), and two of those TFLs he had a hand in came on third and short situations. Even when he wasn’t making tackles, he was almost always near the ball, siphoning potential cutback lanes and stringing plays out. If he stays healthy and keeps playing like this, the defense just might round into acceptable form by mid-December.
Kyle Pitts is also back, and he too is (still) a force
Duh. But it’s great to see nonetheless, even in a less-than-spectacular showing from quarterback Kyle Trask! The #Kyle2Kyle connection was on full display today, connecting five times for 99 yards and a trifecta of touchdowns. Included in there was a 56 yard touchdown to get the scoring started for the afternoon. Pitts remains a matchup nightmare for anybody who’s unfortunate enough to have to try to cover him, and he seemed the picture of health today, showing no lingering symptoms from the concussion he suffered earlier this month against Georgia. Even without two and a half games of work, he remains the favorite for the Mackey Award.
The verdict: Florida isn’t perfect, but it’s closing in on its goals
To the victor goes the spoils: Florida has plenty of holes, but all because they beat Georgia, they now sit one win away from the SEC Championship Game (and could even clinch it tonight if Georgia gets shocked by South Carolina for the second straight year). And for all the Gators’ problems, Florida sits a mere three wins away from the College Football Playoff.