I believe it was Isaac Newton that once said, "How the hell you gonna run a play when there ain't no damn time left on the clock." Word, that's impeccable logic to me, but I'm not an SEC ref, and neither was Isaac Newton. But hey, when you're operating on the premise that the past is irrelevant, live in the now and prepare for the future.
Florida's defense is one of the most talented in the country. Cynics inclined to focus on the past will point out that ECU threw for 346 yards against them last week. In a quick rebut it can be note that the Gates' were without the best cornerback in the country, Vernon Hargreaves III, as well as starting safety Keanu Neal. It should also be recognized that a pick six by rising corner back star and all-world athlete Jalen Tabor was the difference in a game that saw UF survive a 31-24 scrap in the Swamp. The final, and most salient observation of last week's contest is that the Gators held a decent ECU running game to 15 yards on 20 carries. That's it, for the whole game, ECU rushed for 15 yards when they handed the ball off. ECU actually had -23 yards rushing if you factor in sack yardage. The Cat's O-Line must establish a solid running game to keep the Gators' dangerous pass rush from forcing inconsistent and mistake prone Patrick Towles to beat them. Florida is stacked up front and winning the trenches on that side of the ball will determine Kentucky's fate.
On the offense side of the ball Florida is still searching for an identity. It appeared that Will Grier had severed his conjoined twin, Treon Harris, in Jim McElwain's two head QB experiment going into the second half. Unfortunately for all parties involved, Grier proceeded to fling arrant passes off the hands of ECU defenders that just couldn't seem to catch the ball. I counted four passes that should have easily been picked off. Look for another early rotation of QB's from Florida in this one and expect McElwain to ride one of them if they develop a hot hand.
The running back position is also a platoon situation. Kelvin Taylor is the Gators' best runner out of the backfield but his a liability in pass protection which limits Florida's play calling when he is in the game. Last week ECU was able to key, knowing he was most likely getting the ball when he lined up in the backfield. Taylor was held to 55 yards on 16 carries for an average of 3.4 yards a carry. Freshman Jordan Cronkite has been impressive in spot duty and seems to be the most complete of the backs on the roster through the first two games as he saw 5 carries in week 1 but saw that number bump up to 9 last week. Freshman Jordan Scarlett has also received carries in the first to games but saw his week one total of 8 cut in half to 4 against ECU. It seems Cronkite is the hot hand and I would expect him to get equal reps with Taylor against the Cats. It's also noteworthy that the Gators' offensive line should get a shot in the arm as Five Star freshman OT Martez Ivey returns to action.
Star wide receiver Demarcus Robertson needs no introduction as Cats' fans watched him toast their secondary last season. Expect him a fellow wide receiver Brandon Powell to get the ball in creative ways considering Grier's lack of a deep ball and Harris's one read and run tendency. Tight end DeAndre Goolsby should be featured prominently in the passing game this week. He caught three passes for 99 yards and a touchdown against ECU last week and should great athleticism running after the catch. It will be up to Josh Forrest and company to make sure he doesn't get open over the middle and to stop him in his tracks when he does catch the ball.
Key Match-ups to Watch:
DE - Jonathan Bullard vs. LT Jordan Swindel:
This will be the marquee front line battle to watch. Expect Swindel to get some help handling Bullard from his backs and tight ends early. If Swindel can prove early in the contest that he can contain Bullard coming off the edge, expect to see CJ Conrad and Boom Williams get more looks in the passing game.
MLB Antonio Morrison v. JoJo Kemp, Boom Williams, & Mikel Horton:
If Kentucky's line can get hats on the Florida DL it will leave Morrison to clean up any back that sticks his head through the hole. Strong side linebacker Alex Anzalone, a former 5 star prospect from Pennsylvania, will miss this game with an injury. It will be up to the Gator Senior and team leader to step up his play and shut down anything that invades his sector.
DeAndre Goolsby v. Josh Forrest and Marcus McWilson
Demarcus Robinson and Brandon Powell are going to get their catches. The key is to not let Goolsby catch passes down the seam while focusing on Florida's talented wide receivers. Goolsby did major damage to ECU last week and if he can provide a safety blanket for Grier and Harris Florida will be able to move the ball all day.
The Gators are too mistake prone and their kicker is unreliable, and that's the nicest way I can describe his abilities. I have been 6-0 on my predictions on this site so far and I even won Tim Sullivan's program with my score prediction for last week's win over the Cocks. It was one hell of a run Gators, but everything comes to an end, for you the end is nigh.
Cats win 33-24.