LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Another year. Another win over Kentucky.
Florida survived an uneven performance to knock off the Wildcats for the 29th straight season.
Jim McElwain secured his first SEC win in an-all-too-familar defensive struggle, but his young team overcame some second-half lapses to thwart a potential historic upset.
Will Grier was just OK. Again. He was gritty (12 carries for 62 yards and touchdown), but his accuracy and decision-making remained inconsistent. Grier played the whole game, a mild surprise, and he took a beating behind UF’s porous offensive line.
The redshirt freshman quarterback was aided by some fantastic catches (Antonio Callway, Jake McGee, Ahmad Fulwood), but Florida once again struggled to run the ball (3.2 yards per carry) against the nation’s No. 111 rush defense. That's not a good omen for the future.
With the line’s persistent issues, the offense will consistently struggle to generate any sort of rhythm moving forward.
The Gators’ defense submitted a dominant performance. They held UK to 241 yards, forced two turnovers and recorded six sacks.
Kentucky has playmakers, but Florida beat up quarterback Patrick Towles so much he couldn’t get them the ball.
Defensive linemen Jon Bullard (2 sacks), Alex McCalister (2 sacks) and freshmen CeCe Jefferson (1.5 TFL) were unblockable at times, while junior linebacker Jarrad Davis submitted a second-straight standout performance (10 stops, 1.5 TFL).
The Gators missed a bunch of tackles early, but the mistakes were quickly cleaned up and their secondary (finally at full-strength) suffocated UK’s aerial attack.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
Quietly, UF’s special teams have been abysmal this season. Austin Hardin had a field goal blocked (his third straight miss), while Johnny Townsend averaged just 34 yards on two punts in the first half.
The coverage units were fine, and Callaway did chip in a nice 37-yard punt return, but for as much as McElwain emphasizes the importances of special teams, whatever he’s preaching ain’t working.
This was a Will Muschamp-esque victory. Florida survived and advanced to the next week. The offense is still a mess and it’s about square off against the defensive lines of Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU. Look out. Florida's passed its first test, but the teeth of its schedule is officially here.
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