It was the nastiest loss of the 2018 season. And at home, no less. But Florida is ready and willing to begin another decades-long winning streak against Kentucky.
Florida enters the contest ranked No. 9 in the country, while Kentucky remains unranked. With the first SEC test of the season for both teams, a lot will be uncovered about both teams’ tenacity in conference play.
Florida’s 3-0 Potential?
Florida is coming off a hot home win, no doubt. But entering SEC play against the toughest loss of 2018 flips the switch entirely.
From mood to momentum, Florida will need to continue to channel the magic found at home. For the Gator offense, it’s quarterback Feleipe Franks’ daunting all-time track record against Kentucky. In two matchups, Franks has mustered up just 24-for-50 in completions, and 317 total yards. Franks is going to need to find more mobility against Kentucky’s defensive line. And with news of Xavier Peters’ immediate eligibility this week, that might be a herculean task. Peters, a Florida State transfer, was a highly-touted prospect, ranked No. 12 overall in outside linebackers for the 2018 recruiting class.
Gators head coach Dan Mullen emphasized the significance of cleaning up the team’s minor mishaps against UT Martin, especially when facing an SEC opponent.
Kentucky: Meet Sawyer Smith
Kentucky’s season is in the hands of new quarterback Sawyer Smith who will see his first reps against Florida after a devastating season-ending injury to starting quarterback Terry Wilson. But being thrown into the starting role is nothing new for Smith. A graduate transfer out of Troy, Smith turned heads after leading Troy to a 5-2 record after starter Neal Brown went down from injury.
But Florida’s defensive linemen are undeniably scary. They’ve accumulated 15 sacks in just two games; not the statistic a newly elected starting quarterback wants to hear.
Even so, Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is fully aware of the challenge that lies in Kentucky’s run game.
Will Florida Erase Last Year?
With some extra motivation on the road, Florida is sure to bring out its best against Kentucky.
The SEC duel will air at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Our pregame coverage starts at 3 p.m. on WRUF.