Turnovers Fuel UF Blowout of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KY - After back-to-back punts on the first two drives, it was the Florida defense that fueled the onslaught. Omar Hunter recovered a fumble, and the Gators put up 21 points on seven plays and 126 yards in 2:08. With 3:39 left in the first quarter, UF took control for good, but the turnovers Will Muschamp has been waiting for all season started it, as Florida ran away with a 48-10 win.

"We're a pressure organization, and we have good speed," Will Muschamp said after the game. "Whenever you put those things together, we've got a chance up front if we play well. We played the run well, but the runs we gave up were on scrambles. The run was non-existent until the end."

The first turnover was the biggest. The Gators were pinned deep in their own territory and forged just 23 yards on the first two drives. With Kentucky at its own 45-yard line and driving, Lerentee McCray stripped the ball and Omar Hunter recovered it.

It took the offense out from being stuck in its own territory. That's when Charlie Weis decided to go deep, and John Brantley hit tight end Gerald Christian for a 45-yard touchdown reception.

"(The turnover) was huge early in the game to get a little momentum," Muschamp said. "They came back and had some momentum going, so to get that fumble recovery and flip the field, then we came back with the vertical pass to Gerald. I'm very pleased with the turnovers. We've just got to do a better job of coaching it and then capitalizing on it."

Before the crowd was able to recognize what happened, the Gators held a three-possession lead. After the defense forced a three-and-out, Jeff Demps capped a four-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown run.

Safety Matt Elam intercepted a pass on Kentucky's next drive, and Chris Rainey's 27-yard run set up a one-yard plunge for Trey Burton to give the Gators a 21-0 lead.

It was methodical and effective, and the quick strike attack is one the Gators would like to see more often.

"Whenever you play on the road, I always tell our team on Friday night that (the opponent) needs to match your surge," Muschamp said. "Playing on the road, there's a little momentum for the home team. You've got to bring a different surge to the game. You've got to create momentum for your football team, and I thought we did that.

"You look at the momentum of the game, and we have that quick strike ability on both sides of the ball and special teams. When you're able to flip the field and then score, all of those things are deflating for another team."

INJURY REPORT: Wide receiver Andre Debose and tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) were both held out of Saturday's game.

"They will be back," Muschamp said. "Both of those guys, we went through preparations and the decision wasn't made until Friday that they wouldn't play. We'll move forward with both of those guys Monday."

BRANTLEY INJURY: John Brantley was sacked once this season before the Kentucky game, but he took bigger hits on Saturday than any other point this season. The second one, coming from Preseason All-SEC linebacker Danny Trevathan, sent Brantley to the locker room before Florida's final drive of the first half.

"They wanted to look at him and take a longer look," Muschamp said. "(Trainers) said they'd like to have some time to look at him, so I just said we could get him in the locker room. I didn't know if he would return and felt like we needed to run the offense with Jeff."

With Brantley in the locker room, Florida look over with 1:15 left on its own 36-yard line. Instead of running the clock out, the coaches let freshman Jeff Driskel throw. He was pressured heavily and fumbled, allowing Kentucky to take over and score its only touchdown of the game with 1:18 left in the half on a 19-yard pass from Morgan Newton to La'Rod King.

"It was my decision at the end of the half," Muschamp said. "Jeff goes in the game, John goes in the locker room and Jeff has to play. It's a long season. You've got to run your offense. We felt good about our protection and throwing the ball vertically down the field. He got hit, and we've got to do better with ball security.

"We've got to have Jeff ready. In this league, it's tough to go through the whole season with one guy. I felt like we made the right decision, but it was not the right result."

The Gators ran the ball down into Kentucky territory near the end of the first half. Driskel took a shot at the end zone with 11 seconds left, but it was deflected and intercepted by Kentucky.

"I told Charlie to take a shot at the end zone," Muschamp said. "We had two timeouts, so we'd call it if we didn't get it. Jeff made a nice throw, Frankie made a nice catch and their player made a nice play.

LIVE OR DIE WITH THE BACKS: The Gators rushed for 405 yards against Kentucky, the sixth-best performance in a game in school history. It was the most rushing yards in a game since Florida ran for 466 against New Mexico in 1989.

The fear is how heavily the offense leans on Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. Demps went for 157 yards and two touchdowns, including a long of 84, while Rainey went for 105.

Muschamp knows his team has to be ready for the opponent to take away what Demps and Rainey do.

"There's going to come a point where somebody is going to do some things that we have to adjust to," Muschamp said. "We've prepared for that. We haven't got to that point yet. Until we get to that point, we'll see when the road hits the metal. We feel good about the rest of the players in our offense, but we just need to continue to finish plays downfield."


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