A Gators helmet held high during the game against Charlotte at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday night, Sept. 23, 2023. (Augustus Hoff/WRUF)

Jalen Kimber: Gators Need To Make Improvements

Florida redshirt junior cornerback Jalen Kimber delivered a simple message in the weekly news conference Monday: The Gators need to be better.

The Florida Gators (3-2, 1-1 SEC) suffered a disappointing 33-14 loss on the road to the SEC rival Kentucky Wildcats in their last game. The Gators struggled on both sides of the ball and quickly fell into a 16-0 deficit after the first quarter. Things did not improve much as the game progressed and Kentucky appeared to be more physical and disciplined.

Accountability and Improvements

Kimber was quick to take accountability for the team’s performance and mentioned that there was a lot of room for improvements. Florida needs to accept its mistakes and move on, he said.

A glaring issue that plagued the Gators against Kentucky was their inability to defend the run. Florida surrendered a staggering 329 rushing yards and appeared to be outmatched by Kentucky’s physicality. Senior running back Ray Davis was responsible for 280 of the team’s yards and three touchdowns to go with a 9-yard scoring pass play.

Kimber expressed that while he was happy the defense was able to eliminate the passing game, the team needed to make adjustments on the ground.

He was also adamant the Gators, specifically the defense, need to continue to control what they can control. Kimber described the performance as unacceptable, but he feels it is important the Gators learn from it and move on with a lot of games left to be played.

“It’s basically just looking yourself in the mirror and just being honest with yourself and your team,” he said.

Looking Ahead

Florida coaches and players know adjustments need to be made. With Kentucky now in the rear-view mirror, the Gators shifted their focus to Saturday’s homecoming matchup against Vanderbilt.

An obstacle the Gators will have to overcome will be the absence of sophomore wide receiver Caleb Douglas, who sustained a lower-leg injury against Kentucky after coming down with a 34-yard reception and will likely be sidelined for several weeks.

Freshman wide receiver Andy Jean is set to see an increase in snaps. Jean was productive when he replaced Douglas and will look to continue that momentum against Vanderbilt. Kimber complimented Jean’s work ethic and ability to step up when being called upon.

Florida will look for its fourth win of the season vs. the Commodores (2-4, 0-2) in The Swamp. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m., with the game on the SEC Network and ESPN 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF

About Austin Stirling

Austin Stirling is a third-year journalism major with a sports media focus. He is aspiring for a career in sports media writing, production or sports content creation. Contact him at austinstirlingg@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @austinstirlingg

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