Kentucky looks to break a 16 game losing streak to the Florida Gators in Lexington on Saturday. The Wildcats at 2-2 are coming off a road win at Indiana and have taken the motto "finish the job" for this week's game with UF. Last season it was the Derek Abney show in Gainesville as he finished with 242 all-purpose yards. This year marks the first start for Chris Leak, the true freshman quarterback who has completed 69% of his passes as the backup to Ingle Martin. The last freshman to start at QB for the Gators was Jesse Palmer at Auburn in 1997 in which the Gators won 14-10.
Match Up Breakdown:
|EDGE FLORIDA||MATCH UP BREAKDOWN||EDGE KENTUCKY|
|Chris Leak vs Kentucky's secondary:
Leak will face a secondary that likes to zone behind several blitzes up front in the 3-4 scheme of Mike Archer. Because of the front and teams ability to run on the Wildcats have benefited with four interceptions already. Mike Williams (#1) at strong safety is the best and most active player for Archer. Muhammed Abdullah (#42) has three interceptions and will spend most of the game as the deep third middle of the field. Leak will need to find the outside thirds early in the game.
|Jared Lorenzen vs Florida's secondary:
Lorenzen is in his third offense during his career but he still puts up big numbers. The one thing that impresses you most about Jared is his decision making. Last season in the Swamp he got rattled and had his worst game of the season, but this year he is at home and very confident. He needs 152 total yards to pass Shane Mathews for fourth on the SEC all-time offense list. He has 7seven touchdowns and only two interceptions and likes to throw to return specialist Derek Abney. Keiwan Ratliff will match up with Abney and looks to have a big day.
|Gator run game vs Kentucky run defense:
It is well documented that the Wildcats. (Rank #99) have struggled versus the run and are giving up 4.2 yards per carry. The weakness is in the middle with nose Lamr Mills (#75) who is a 275-pound freshman. Vincent Burns (#98) is the best defensive lineman at the end spot. The Wildcats are also young at inside linebacker with a pair of sophomores on the inside. Look for UF to use some "I" formation and attack the middle of the line behind Mike Degory and Shannon Snell.
|Gator defense vs Kentucky offense:
The Gators need to do a better job of finishing the series when they have teams in second and third and long. Charlie Strong has blitzed a lot on first down and may have to tone that down versus the option that Kentucky will throw at you. The Wildcats have been awful at running the ball (rank #98) and will try Arliss Beach at the tailback spot. The offensive line is average and not good run blockers. This could be another big game for Darrell Lee and Channing Crowder.
|Gators special teams vs Wildcat special
Last year Derek Abney had a big game against Florida and certainly the Gators are well aware of his ability. This season the Cats are 104th in punt returns and 24th in kickoff returns. Kick coverage will be important for Petro and the Gator cover guys. They have already faced one of the fastest in Devin Hester so they should be prepared for Abney. Eric Wilbur has been outstanding and Leach appears to be very solid. Ron Zook would like to see a big return on kickoff so keep an eye on Andre Caldwell, Chad Jackson or Demetrice Webb.
The Gators need to come out offensively and establish the run against Kentucky. Yes, I know want to throw the ball down the field. Well maybe once on the first play but the weakness for Kentucky is their run defense and the Gators have a young quarterback and need to establish their dominance. I think it will help UF that one quarterback will run the entire package for the Gators. This will benefit everyone from the running backs to the offensive line. While Ed Zaunbrecher will not have his entire package in for Leak because of his inexperience with checks and coverages, he will have in a good portion of the passing game, which includes corners and posts routes. Defensively the Gators must start fast again versus an experienced quarterback in Lorenzen. Charlie Strong once again will look to make the offense one-dimensional. I think the Gators will create 3threeturnovers and win a closer than expected game.
MY PREDICTION: Florida wins 34-28