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Gators “Take Kentucky’s Breath Away” for 30th straight win

Photographer: Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire
Christopher Fischer

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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.”)

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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 Good
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.

The Bad
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.

Overall
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.”

A native Floridian who graduated from Clearwater High School and the University of Florida, Chris Fischer has spent nearly 15 years in Sports Televison, including the last five as Sports Reporter and Anchor with the CBS affiliate in Tampa Bay-WTSP. He is a multi time AP Sports and Local Emmy award winner and will be seen this season as a sideline reporter on CBS-TV’s network coverage of the NFL.Chris brings enthusiasm and passion (particularly when it comes to his Gators) to College and NFL coverage to F.F.I.

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Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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