Kentucky Begins SEC Slate at No. 14 Florida
Sept. 20, 2012
Kentucky looks to regroup and get back on the winning track when it begins its 2012 Southeastern Conference schedule this Saturday against No. 14 Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
UK is coming off a heartbreaking 32-31 overtime loss to Western Kentucky last Saturday, while Florida enters the game off a 37-20 road win at No. 23 Tennessee. The battle with the Gators is the SEC opener for Kentucky, but it's the third SEC game in as many weeks for Florida, who currently sit 3-0 overall. This is the fourth consecutive season that UK has faced Florida in its SEC opener.
Junior tailback Jonathan George led Kentucky against WKU, scoring three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving. George led UK in rushing in the game with 13 carries for 51 yards, while catching six passes for 54 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown reception. Sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith had 37 completions in the game the game, finding senior wide receiver La'Rod King a career-best 10 times for 84 yards.
Kentucky ranks high nationally in several categories entering the week, including first in the SEC and 13th nationally in passing offense with 322 passing yards per game. Smith leads that charge for Kentucky, ranking first in the SEC in both completions and passing yards per game, while also sitting third and 10th nationally in those categories, respectively. King is averaging 7.67 receptions per game which ranks him first in the conference and tied for 15th nationally.
Cat Scratches: Different kind of test awaiting Cats in The Swamp
Collins Ukwu is one of a handful of Wildcats to see extensive action the last time Kentucky traveled to Gainesville, Fla., to face the Florida Gators.
The senior defensive end tied for the team lead with six tackles in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium that September evening. He remembers well the venue recognized almost unanimously as one of the hardest on road teams in the nation. He knows about the Gator chomps and the fans seated so close to the visiting sideline they can be heard loud and clear.
Ukwu and the Cats may have fallen that day, but he isn't intimidated by the idea of going back into the building known commonly as "The Swamp." In fact, he looks forward to it... read the full preview
Florida enters Saturday's game on a high note, having earned two key Southeastern Conference road victories each of the last two weeks. The Gators hold a 3-0 record and are in year two under head coach Will Muschamp.
UF started the season with a 27-14 victory at home against Bowling Green before hitting the road for two tough SEC road games. The Gators improved their record to 2-0 in week two with a 20-17 victory at Texas A&M before earning a 37-20 victory at top-25 Tennessee last Saturday.
The Gators have been winning with their defense, holding all three opponents so far this season to 20 points or less. Florida ranks 20th nationally in pass efficiency defense, 29th in rushing defense, 32nd in scoring defense and 35th in total defense. Senior defensive back Josh Evans leads the team in tackles with 21, while senior linebacker Jon Bostic is second in tackles with 18 and second in tackles-for-loss with three. Junior defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd leads the team with 3.5 tackles-for-loss, while sophomore defensive back Marcus Roberson leads the team with five pass breakups and an interception.
Offensively, sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel has performed well, ranking 17t h nationally in passing efficiency. Driskel is 37-for-52 this season with three touchdowns and no interceptions, while also sitting second on the team in rushing with 25 carries for 113 yards. The Gators are 23rd nationally in rushing offense led by senior running back Mike Gillislee, who is first in the SEC and 20th nationally in rushing at 115.3 yards per game. Gillislee has 346 yards this season on 56 carries, including four touchdowns. Tight end Jordan Reed paces the team in receiving with 13 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown.