Five things to know about the Wildcats
Up and coming quarterback… Quarterback Patrick Towles is only a sophomore but is giving the Kentucky faithful some hope that they have a bright future with him at the helm. The 6-foot-5, 238 pound sophomore played as a true freshman in 2012 where he threw just 40 times. He’s completed 37 passes in two games this season for 547 yards and two touchdowns. He has also run the ball 25 times for 89 yards this season and is a threat that way. The defensive front is going to have to hem Towles in all night in order to control him.
Bookend pass rushers… Senior pass rushing specialists Za’Darius Smith (6-6, 263) and Alvin Dupree (6-4, 264) have a combined 21 sacks and 32 tackles for loss in their careers as Wildcats. They have great size on the outside and in the 3-4 defense play linebacker at times. Their athleticism is as good as most the Gators will face this year and something to watch for with the Gators missing starting left tackle D.J. Humphries for the contest.
The speedster… Ryan Timmons is one of the fastest players the Gators will face in 2014. The sophomore receiver leads the Wildcats with 13 receptions and 170 yards and although he hasn’t put the ball in the end zone this year, Timmons is a threat to take it to the house on any play. He does have a long catch of 56 yards so far this season.
Paper or plastic?... The Wildcats have already given up five sacks in two games and that was against UT Martin and Ohio. The Gator defense looks to be much improved in terms of pass rush and Kentucky is going to take some chances dropping back against Florida. This should be a game where we can measure the pass rush of the Gators.
Stout running game… Braylon Heard has two rushes on the year. Both have gone to the house. His stat line reads two rushes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for Kentucky, Heard was hurt on the last touchdown run and missed the Ohio game. Fortunately for the Wildcats, Heard is back this game having finally been cleared late in the week. The Wildcats have four other backs averaging better than four yards per carry and should provide a nice test for the Gator defensive front.
FIVE THINGS WE WANT TO SEE SATURDAY
Driskel needs to keep slinging it.
Continuation of a wide open attack… The Wildcats present a different challenge with the odd (3-4) front they will show against Florida this week. Their size in the front seven is going to make it a little more difficult to run, and the odd front is built to defend the spread. Florida will have to take advantage through the air where the Wildcats have only given up 182 yards per game and they will have to stay away from junior college transfer safety A.J. Stamps who has quickly become the best in an older secondary unit.
Better pass protection… Florida left Saturday’s game without sack, but that shouldn’t have been the case. There were a couple of close calls against a team that won’t have the pass rush that Kentucky presents. Most of the issues came from the inside and were just mental errors on who to block. That needs to be cleaned up a good deal and the new tackle combination will also be put to the test.
More from the play makers… It was quite easy to see that sophomore Demarcus Robinson and senior Andre Debose are guys that need to get more touches on offense. There is little doubt that Debose may have been tired from all of his play on punt return, but he won’t likely get quite as many chances there this week. Florida head coach Will Muschamp made it a point this week to talk about getting Debose and freshman running back Brandon Powell the ball more. It was something the last coordinator failed to do. They need to find ways to feed Robinson, Debose, and Powell.
Freshman corners have to grow up quick... The young cornerbacks, Jaen Tabor and Quincy Wilson will be tested early and often in this game. Kentucky has added a great deal of speed to their line up in the last two years. These guys have to stay with them and the line needs to help out with the pass rush. This could be a track meet if they don’t get quality play from the freshman corners.
Continue making field goals… Nobody cares who it is that is making the field goals. The fact that Frankie Velez was awarded a scholarship last month and that he is 3-for-3 on field goals could not make fans, players, and coaches happier about the success. That needs to continue and build some momentum for the season in that regard. The Gators lost four games a year ago by a touchdown or less, field goals tend to matter over time.