Florida Gators: cats-gators-092212

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here are five observations from Florida's 38-0 victory over Kentucky on Saturday at Florida Field:

1. Spreading the wealth: Florida spread the ball around in the passing game. QB Jeff Driskel completed passes to 10 players, including FB Hunter Joyer and freshman WR Raphael Andrades, who made the first start and reception of his career. It's obviously a sign that the coaching staff is able to trust more players, but it's also a sign that Driskel is continuing to steadily develop. He did lock on certain receivers at times on Saturday, but he did also go to his second and third options as well.

Mike Gillislee
Kim Klement/US PresswireFlorida running back Mike Gillislee ran 13 times for 56 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.
2. Better on third down: The Gators were among the nation's worst teams on third down entering the game (27 percent), but they converted 12 of 17 opportunities against Kentucky. More impressive is the Gators failed to convert on their first three third downs, which means they went 11-for-14 after that. Why? Better play calling, a little bit better push by the offensive line, and the fact that Kentucky is one of the league's worst teams.

3. Shifty guy: RB Mike Gillislee never seems to take a solid hit. The 5-foot-11, 209-pounder is pretty shifty for his size and he's able to spin and juke and make a lot of guys miss. The way that manifests itself is that he hardly ever gets stopped for a loss. He has lost just 9 yards in 66 carries this season. He carried the ball 13 times on Saturday had positive yardage on every carry.

4. M.I.A.: KR/WR Andre Debose remains in the dog house and becomes less and less a part of the team's plans each week. He did not play in the first half and didn't return a kickoff in the second. He returned two punts for 8 yards, and nearly fumbled away one punt. He was not one of the 10 players who caught passes, either. UF coach Will Muschamp on Debose after the game: "He has to practice better."

5. On the edge: UF struggled against the perimeter run early in the game, and the main reason was because of the play of the ends. Freshman Jonathan Bullard started in Dominique Easley's place and Earl Okine also saw playing time, but both had some trouble containing the edge. The Gators eventually settled down and corralled Kentucky RBs Jonathan George and Raymond Sanders. Plus, the Wildcats were forced to abandon the run once they got behind. Easley (knee) should be able to return for the Oct. 6 game against LSU.

Turnovers finally coming for Gators

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
5:26
PM ET
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s coaching staff has been harping on creating turnovers pretty much since the 2011 season ended. Looks like the message has gotten through.

The Gators intercepted three passes in their 38-0 victory over Kentucky on Saturday, marking the most turnovers forced in a single game since UF forced four in its victory over Kentucky last season. It matters not to the players that it came against a backup quarterback who said he didn’t know for sure he was going to start until pre-game warmups.

[+] EnlargeJaylen Watkins
Kim Klement/US PresswireFlorida cornerback Jaylen Watkins intercepts the ball and runs it back for a touchdown in the second quarter against Kentucky.
“The turnovers were big for us,” said LB Michael Taylor, who intercepted a pass in the second quarter. “Turnovers equal points, and points equal wins.”

The Gators, however, were only able to get seven points out of the three turnovers. That came on CB Jaylen Watkins’ 26-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter. UF ended Kentucky’s previous possession with an interception, too, when S De’Ante Saunders grabbed a Newton pass and returned it 29 yards to the UK 23-yard line.

However, UF QB Jeff Driskel returned the favor when he was picked off in the end zone by Martavius Neloms.

Taylor’s interception came with 16 seconds remaining in the first half. UF was only able to run one play before time expired.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It took more than a decade, but Florida was finally able to post a shutout against a Southeastern Conference opponent.

The Gators’ 38-0 victory over Kentucky at Florida Field on Saturday was their first shutout since they beat Mississippi State 52-0 on Sept. 29, 2001. That’s a span of 142 games.

UF’s defense held Kentucky to 219 yards of total offense and intercepted three passes. The Wildcats were without starting quarterback Maxwell Smith, the SEC’s leading passer (322.0 yards per game), who was held out by coach Joker Phillips because of a shoulder injury.

Regardless, it’s an impressive feat, UF coach Will Muschamp said.

“Any time you get a shutout, those things are hard to come by in this day and age of football regardless of who you’re playing,” Muschamp said.

Florida’s last shutout was a 39-0 victory over UAB in the second game of the 2011 season.
[+] EnlargeJelani Jenkins
Kim Klement/US PresswireFlorida linebacker Jelani Jenkins was on the sideline on Saturday, but he might return from a thumb injury for the Gators' next game against LSU on Oct. 6.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- DT Sharrif Floyd and TE Jordan Reed each left Florida's 38-0 victory over Kentucky on Saturday because of shoulder injuries, but coach Will Muschamp said neither injury was particularly serious.

Floyd actually returned to the game after getting injured in the second quarter, but he went to the locker room just before halftime and did not return. Reed was hurt late in the second half when Kentucky S Mikie Benton hit him in the head with his helmet while Reed was making a catch in the middle of the field.

Benton was penalized 15 yards for hitting a defenseless receiver. Reed came back onto the field on the next play and tried to play in the third quarter but sat out the rest of the game. He finished with three catches for 41 yards.

"He didn’t feel like he could get his hand up and get the range of motion," Muschamp said.

In addition, RT Chaz Green (ankle) and DE Dominique Easley (knee) did not play. Both were game-day decisions, Muschamp said.

LB Jelani Jenkins (thumb) and DB Cody Riggs (foot) also sat out for the second consecutive week.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The text from trainer Anthony Pass came in to Florida coach Will Muschamp's phone at 9:36 a.m. Friday. RB/FB Trey Burton was suffering from back spasms, it said.

Muschamp started worrying immediately, for good reason it turned out, because Burton was unable to play against Kentucky on Saturday.

"I said, 'That ain't good,' " Muschamp remembered. "As much as Trey does for us, that’s tough. It doesn’t just affect offense. I go down to (linebackers coach/special teams coordinator D.J.) Durkin’s office and tell him ,and he’s under the desk because he (Burton) does so much for us in special teams. It’s tough when you lose a guy that does so much stuff for you."

Burton was coming off the second-best game of his career (91 yards and two TDs rushing, two catches for 38 yards against Tennessee) and was expected to play a much bigger role in the offense against Kentucky and the rest of the season. Instead, he wasn't even on the sideline.

"We worked on him all day Friday, Friday night, into this morning," Muschamp said. "We did everything we could do to give him. Every time he planted on his right foot he had pain shooting up his right hip."

Burton, who first burst onto the national scene in 2010 by scoring six touchdowns against Kentucky, is expected to be healthy for the Gators' Oct. 6 game against LSU. UF has a bye this week.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida extended its winning streak over Kentucky to 26 games in relatively easy fashion Saturday -- which is pretty much standard in the series between the Southeastern Conference teams.

The 14th-ranked Gators (4-0, 3-0 SEC) intercepted three passes and recorded their first shutout in SEC play since a 52-0 rout of Mississippi State in 2001. UF also got a touchdown pass and a touchdown run from quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Kentucky (1-3, 0-1 SEC) struggled offensively without starting quarterback Maxwell Smith, who entered the game as the league's leading passer (322.0 yards per game). Smith sat out with a shoulder injury, which he suffered in last week's loss to Western Kentucky. Morgan Newton started in his place and completed just 7 of 21 passes for 48 yards.

It was over when: Florida CB Jaylen Watkins intercepted a Newton pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown with 8:24 remaining in the first half. That put the Gators ahead 17-0 and was part of a 21-point second quarter.

Game ball goes to: Driskel. The sophomore was a little wild and did throw his first interception of the season, but he also completed 18 of 27 passes for 203 yards and ran seven times for 43 yards. The 27 pass attempts were a career high.

(Read full post)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here's a breakdown of the first half of No. 14 Florida's home game against Kentucky.

Stat of the half: The Gators have been terrible on third down on offense this season, converting just 27 percent of their opportunities entering Saturday's game. However, UF converted 5 of 9 third downs in the first half.

Player of the half: Florida hadn't been doing much on offense and seemed a bit listless until CB Jaylen Watkins stepped in front of a Morgan Newton pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown that put the Gators ahead 17-0. That seemed to spark the Gators, who added another touchdown and dominated the remaining 8:24 of the half. It was the first interception of Watkins' career.

What's working for Florida: The Gators pass defense has been solid, although part of that is because starting QB Maxwell Smith isn't playing because of a shoulder injury. The Wildcats are going with Newton, but he hasn't had much luck. The Gators have locked down receivers La'Rod King and Aaron Boyd, and Newton has missed several open throws when his receivers have found open space. UF picked off three passes, and Newton managed to complete just 6 of 20 passes for 49 yards.

What's not working for Florida: UF has been a little sloppy on offense and it has cost them several chances at touchdowns instead of field goals. The Gators faced a third-and-goal from the Kentucky 3-yard line, but RT Kyle Koehne was penalized for a false start and QB Jeff Driskel dropped the snap on the next play, and the Gators had to settle for a field goal. Driskel also threw his first interception of the season in the end zone. It was a throw he shouldn't have made because the receiver wasn't open. He did the same thing late in the second quarter -- he tried to hit Frankie Hammond in the back of the end zone -- and he was lucky that one wasn't intercepted as well. Driskel also missed a wide-open Quinton Dunbar in the end zone, but he came right back to him on the next play with an accurate throw. Florida's offense is missing one of its threats, Trey Burton, who is suffering from back spasms.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
VIDEO PLAYLIST video