So, what it was Kentucky
Who cares the last time the Wildcats won in Gainesville Jimmy Carter was in office?
Do you think it matters the Gators best offensive performance under Jim McElwain came against a program they’ve won 30 in a row against?
The last time “Big Blue” beat Florida, “Top Gun” was a box office hit. “There’s two O’s in Goose, boys” and now there are two O’s in the Gators record against the Wildcats over that stretch, as in 30-0. (“I feel the need. The need Gator skill position speed.”)
What stood out wasn’t the 45-7 beat down, nor Luke Del Rio’s 320 yards passing, nor Lamical Perine’s 105 yards rushing. What captured my attention was the offenses ability to take turnovers and convert them in to points. All four Wildcat turnovers resulted in touchdowns on Florida’s next offensive possession.
The Gators’ secondary picked off Drew Barker three times. Quincy Wilson made an incredible one handed interception. Jalen “Teez” Tabor, wasn’t about to be out down, snuffing out a screen pass for pick. Overall Kentucky finished with as many pass completions (3/14) as the Gators had interceptions.
A week ago against UMass, Gator fans were complaining about the weak right side of the offensive line. Hard to tell if that was solidified in a week, or it was the weak Kentucky defensive line pressure. But what stood out was the 244 yards rushing and the push up the gut he offensive line provided. Mark Thompson started strong running between the tackles, then Perine took over punishing his way in to the secondary.
Del Rio’s 320 yards passing gave the Gator Nation with a quarterback performance unseen at the Swamp since Chris Leak in 2004. Del Rio had 19 completions to 9 different receivers. His four touchdown throws were the most since Will Grier last season against Ole Miss.
Alex Anzalone played possessed. The senior linebacker collected one and half sacks and a handful of tackles. Jordan Sherit had a fire lit under him after McElwain chewed the redshirt-junior out for a penalty just before the half. It worked as Sherit finished with two sacks.
Eddy Pineiro was not worth the “Eddy, Eddy, Eddy” cheers echoing around the stadium. He did hit a 53-yard field goal, which would’ve been unfathomable in the years prior, but he was 1 of 3 in field goal opportunities. (Side note: Pineiro did ask me for the video I posted on Twitter of Thompson shining his cleats following the 53-yard field goal). Still all the Martin Gramatica antics needs to equate to “automatica” for Pineiro.
Del Rio’s interception didn’t sit well with McElwain. Maybe it was the head coach trying to keep whip cracking for the rest of the season. But McElwain got irritated in the postgame press conference when asked about Del Rio’s performance. McElwain made it a point to say Del Rio blew the curl route throw to C.J. Worton “That interception is still haunting me because it was exactly the way we drew it up against the right defense.”
Antonio Callaway suffered a quad injury. McElwain didn’t elude to the severity of the injury or how long his biggest weapon could be out. Callaway’s five receptions for 129 yards proved Del Rio’s built a comfortabilty with the sophomore.
It was a dominating Gators’ performance against a SEC team (Can’t call them a rival when Kentucky hasn’t beaten Florida in 30 games). The offense was explosive and punishing at times.
The defense continues to turn the tides of a game. McEwlain should thank his lucky stars Muschamp recruited heavily on that side of the ball.
Next week shouldn’t be a test against North Texas, but will serve as the last tune up before the heart of the SEC schedule or the “Highway to the Danger Zone.”