I think Chad Jackson needs to get on the field. He is a playmaker with great speed. He had trouble lining up some Saturday night but really has great potential. Lance Butler has developed into a big time player for the Gators. Butler, who at one point was way down the depth chart in his career, is a physical and nasty blocker who possesses great foot movement for an offensive lineman. Ray McDonald had a better second half and showed why he can be a future NFL player. Ray chased well and held up against a tough Volunteer offensive line. OJ Small is this year's Chris Doering. He is reliable, tough and sure handed. The other thing I like about OJ is that after a catch he is always heading up field for positive yards. Terrence Holmes has a chance to be a starter. He is the most physical safety in the rotation and seems to have a knack for being around the ball.
Areas to improve…
Obviously the big topic has been prevent defense. The secondary and linebackers must do a better job of locating potential receivers. Florida must be better on run defense early in the down sequence. It was not Channing Crowder's best game but he played hard and took the wrong angles a couple of times. For UF to be good on run defense #55 must not have an off night. The defensive ends must get off blocks better this week, especially against the run. Offensively Florida must finish the drive when getting the ball inside the opponent's five yard line. The Gators had two drops and they tipped their own touchdown pass or they would have finished off the Vols. The offense must carry the defense early in the season and finish drives. I thought Leak should have taken a shot down the field at the end of the first half. Tennessee was on the ropes and UF needs to smell blood. Finally I think C-4 has to be able to finish a game. Both backs did some good things but Fason was a tough matchup for the Volunteers.
Snippetts and Tidbits…
I watched the tape and legally Jemalle Cornelius caught the touchdown. If Chad Jackson did not have a 39 inch vertical jump the Gators would have scored anyway on a pass to Bubba Caldwell. Florida only had nine possessions in the game and they usually like to get fifteen on a weekly basis. The fact that Tennessee had so many 80 yd drives shortened the game. The Gators looked like the Gators of the mid 90's overcoming several tough 3rd downs in the 97 yard drive for a touchdown. The great offenses overcome penalties and bad field position. Randy Hand was called for a hold in the game but it was clearly not a holding penalty. On tape Andre Caldwell never steps out of bounds on the play marked at the one yard line.
Give Tennessee some credit as well for making some plays to win. James Wilhoit who made a 51yd field goal last year against the Gators drilled the 50 yarder after missing an extra point. Erik Ainge made some nice throws down the stretch to win the game for the Vols.
Kentucky is coming off a big win last week against Indiana. Shane Boyd did it on the ground and through the air. Boyd is a big kid who will scramble right away off pass plays. They are a team that really tries to be balanced with the running game and short passes. Freshman running back Tony Dixon gives them a breakaway threat in the backfield. Last week was the first time since 2002 that Kentucky had two 100 yd backs in a game. You can count on the fact that Kentucky will try to run the ball on Florida, especially out of (11 personnel) which is one back and one tight end. Defensively, Kentucky runs an awkward 3-4 defense which should allow UF to run the ball with great success. The Wildcats have two really good defensive players and nine bad ones which is why they are last in the SEC in total defense. Sweet Pea Burns is a good defensive end that will move inside a bit in the 3-4 and Mike Williams is a very active safety. Chad Anderson is a linebacker who leads the team in tackles.
Everyone is looking for more sacks (2 this season) from the front seven but the key is stopping the run and Florida must get off to a fast start. Kentucky has some confidence and you don't want to get off to a sloppy start. Look for Chris Leak to get Dallas Baker involved early and the running game to get cranked up. Florida must continue to protect the football and score when getting into the redzone. Special teams could shine this week and if Florida can get control of the game in the first half, look for more players to play. On defense Brandon Siler and Todd McCullough should play more although Travis Harris did not play much last week in nickel defense. Teams will try to spread Florida out and gash them in the running game so Channing Crowder must play better this week.
Chris Leak, Ciatrick Fason, Channing Crowder and Andre Caldwell.
Stat of the Week:
17-The Gators have a 17 game winning streak vs Kentucky.