Gators quarterback Graham Mertz shows emotion during the Gator football team's 29-16 victory over Tennessee on Sept. 16. Photo courtesy of Maddie Washburn.

Jesse Palmer Talks Upcoming Florida Game Against Kentucky

The No. 22 Florida Gators football team is traveling to Lexington Saturday to play the Kentucky Wildcats.

Due to Kentucky’s victory against Vanderbilt last week and the Gators’ 13-point victory over the Vols, both Florida and Kentucky are currently ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the SEC East rankings, respectively.

Mertz Spotlight

When Florida’s starting quarterback Graham Mertz transferred from Wisconsin to Florida, fans were skeptical about a Big Ten quarterback being able to compete in the Southeastern Conference. Additionally, Mertz’s stats with the Badgers weren’t amazing, throwing 26 interceptions to only 38 touchdowns in his time with the Badgers.

However, Mertz has proven his doubters wrong and has gotten off to a strong start under second year head coach Billy Napier.

Former Gators quarterback Jesse Palmer said Mertz has been having a successful season in which he has proved many wrong.

Kentucky’s Switch

Mertz will be matching up with a fellow transfer quarterback in former NC State quarterback Devin Leary. In 2021, Leary completed 66% of his passes for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions, and he broke Philip Rivers’ single-season NC State record for touchdown passes.

In a matchup with Florida State in 2022, a Seminoles defender slammed a helmet into Leary’s chest and tore the pectoral muscle on his right throwing side. At the time, he had led the Wolfpack to a 5-1 record and the Wolfpack were a Top 15 team. But his season came to an end early and surgery was necessary. The NFL Draft was out of the picture for him because he wouldn’t recover in time to throw at the combine or a pro day.

So, he transferred to play under Mark Stoops at Kentucky. So far, Leary has recorded a completion percentage of 59.3% with nine touchdowns and five intersections.

Palmer expressed his concern for his performance so far this season.

The two teams will go toe-to-toe on Saturday at Kroger Field at noon.

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