UK Football to Give Florida a Run for Its Money? It's Possible. Here's How
Two games, one a scintillating, feel-good victory to open the season, the other a “well, at least it was a win” showing that left fans and apparently more than a few players wishing for a better performance.
In any case, Kentucky is 2-0 and it’s time to go to Florida for a measuring-stick Southeastern Conference contest with the Gators. Do Mark Stoops’ troops have what it takes to challenge Florida and bring a halt to a losing streak that reaches back to 1987? Or are Wildcat fans just hoping UK plays well enough not to be embarrassed while avoiding costly injuries that could compromise the rest of the season?
Kentucky could be competitive this weekend, and maybe threaten an upset. Here’s how:
• So far, the Wildcats have not committed a turnover this season while forcing six. Protecting the ball, and persuading Florida to cough it up a time or two, will be critical.
• Take care of quarterback Patrick Towles. Kentucky has yet to start its best offensive line combination because of injuries and suspensions. Get the first string in there and give Towles time to pick out his receivers. UK will also have to run the ball some to keep Florida honest defensively. And I don’t mean a lot of carries for Towles, either. The return of an effective Braylon Heard would be big as would a strong game from Floridian Jojo Kemp.
• Score a defensive touchdown. Something – or several somethings – unexpected will have to occur for Kentucky to keep it close or have a chance to pull an upset. A fumble return or an interception for a score would qualify, as would a touchdown from the kicking game. Points from the special teams would be huge.
The key will be whether Kentucky can keep up with the Gators in the second half, when depth and mental toughness will reveal itself. The Cats may finally have enough speed among their wide receivers, running backs, linebackers and secondary to keep Florida from running away with the game. It remains to be seen if the young Cats also have enough poise and experience to finish the deal.
A final point about last week’s win over Ohio. If Steven Borden hadn’t dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter, would anyone be questioning the “prettiness” of UK’s second victory? How much better does 27-3 look on the scoreboard than 20-3?
Written by Glenn Osborne of KY Forward