Maligned Florida defense coming of Age?

<img src=http://www246.pair.com/autoybkh/albums/albun22/7475918_G.thumb.jpg align=right>The Florida defense took its share of lumps for getting picked apart by the Tennessee freshmen tandem of Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer. However, one week later these Gators conquered a Kentucky offensive unit and lead its team to victory.

The numbers tell the real story. Florida sent the ‘Cats packing, three and out 38% of the time. If you take away the drive in the final seconds of the first half where Kentucky ran one play before time elapsed, the percentage grows to 46%. Include the fourth down play where the ‘Cats went for it only to see Marc McClinton tackled for a two yard loss the Gators held Kentucky in check 54% of the time. Regardless of your desired statistical preference, this was a marked improvement for a much maligned unit. Is this the return of the Fightin' Gators?

Kentucky garnered its greatest degree of success as Florida fans began to settle into their seats. Quarterback Shane Boyd pulled the trigger on a loaded Wildcat assault weapon. Meanwhile, Gators fans surrendered repeated deep sighs anticipating yet another long day for their defense. However, the Florida defense forced the ‘Cats into a second and long situation at the 38 when defensive end Jeremy Mincey brought down Boyd for no gain after a run to the right side. Middle linebacker Channing Crowder tackled tight end Jeremy Drobney for a gain of seven on the following play, and Mincey and tackle ray McDonald dropped tailback Tony Dixon for a two yard loss on a third down shovel pass.

Boyd completed 7 of 9 on the drive for 51 yards. The senior signal caller also ran three times for nine yards. Boyd had made a statement. However, these Wildcats, who had reeled off an impressive offensive start for the 14 play, 5:29 minute drive needed a career long 51 yard Taylor Begley field goal to the secure their only points of the day. Unthinkable.

The Gators defense returned minutes later, seemingly declared a no-fly zone and the relinquishing of all offensive weapons for those who hail from The Blue Grass State. These Fightin' Gators tamed a Wildcat attack into a petting zoo. The Mildcats were caged and on display.

After that initial drive, Boyd completed just another seven passes. That's right, a total of seven. The Big Cat hit just 7 of 23 for 83 yards. Furthermore, the Gators held Boyd in check on the ground too. He scratched out an additional 11 carries for 23 yards, a mere 2.09 yards per carry.

The Gators coaching staff knew that the Mildcat offensive attack would begin and end with senior quarterback Shane Boyd…and this week the conquerors wear the Orange AND Blue.


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