- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida didn’t need to rally from a halftime deficit this week, instead rolling to an easy victory over Kentucky on Saturday. Here are the good and the bad from the Gators’ 38-0 shutout of the Wildcats at Florida Field.
1. Turnovers: Florida’s coaching staff has been harping on forcing more turnovers throughout the offseason and the Gators intercepted UK QB Morgan Newton three times. Jaylen Watkins returned one for a touchdown. UF could have had two more interceptions but couldn’t come down with the ball. UF also locked down UK WRs La’Rod King and Aaron Boyd. The two entered the game averaging a combined 13.7 catches per game. King caught three passes and Boyd none.
2. Spreading the ball around: UF got a lot more people involved in the offense against Kentucky. Six players carried the ball and 10 caught passes, which is impressive when you consider one of them wasn’t Trey Burton. He sat out the game with back spasms. It’s a sign that the coaching staff is starting to have more trust in more players and that offensive coordinator Brent Pease is opening up the playbook.
3. Christy’s big leg: P Kyle Christy continues to be impressive as a field position weapon. The sophomore averaged 46.0 yards on three punts and he put two inside the 20-yard line, including a 53-yarder that bounced out of bounds at the 8.
1. Driskel a little wild: QB Jeff Driskel was fantastic in his first two starts on the road at Texas A&M and Tennessee, but he struggled a bit against Kentucky. He was still pretty good (18-for-27, 203 yards, 1 TD) but he threw his first interception of the season (in the end zone) and missed several wide-open receivers. He was bound to have a sub-par game because he is a young QB, but if this is as bad as it gets for Driskel he’ll be fine.
2. No pass rush: After harassing Tennessee QB Tyler Bray in the second half last week, the Gators didn’t get to Newton at all on Saturday. UF was content to sit back and rush just four throughout the second half, but the Gators still should have gotten more pressure. Granted, DE Dominique Easley (knee) was out, but this was not a good Kentucky team.
3. Poor special teams: The Gators’ special teams have been tremendous against Kentucky over the past six seasons but K Caleb Sturgis had a 39-yard FG attempt blocked, PR Andre Debose muffed a punt and nearly lost the ball, and Sturgis put one kickoff out of bounds. Those are sloppy mistakes the Gators can’t afford against the SEC’s better teams.