Scouting Kentucky

Here is a scouting report for this week's big SEC contest between the Gators and Wildcats, Brady Ackerman style. It is different, unique and usually right on.

Florida's schedule does not get any easier this week as perennial doormat Kentucky comes in at 4-0 and off to their best start since 1984. Coach Guy Morris was rewarded with a contract extension this week and the Wildcats, who are ineligible for the SEC title, are making this week's game into a Bowl Game. Kentucky has not won at Florida Field since 1979 and has lost 15 in a row overall in the series. UF will be on national television for the second week in a row and face a balanced offensive attack as well as an improving Wildcat defense. This is the SEC home opener for the Gators who have not lost one since Ole Miss in 1989.

Kentucky Offense:
The Wildcats are averaging 425 yards per game and 42 points. They have been very balanced under second year coordinator Brent Pease throwing for 227 and running for 197. Jared Lorenzen returns at QB as the SEC's active total yards leader and while he is still a huge man for his position. He has been very good, throwing 12 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. He is helped by the running of Artose Pinner, who leads the SEC in rushing with 503 yards and he had a school record tying 4 touchdowns a week ago. Pinner also leads in receptions with 16 but the Wildcats do have a couple of good ones in Derek Abney with 15 yards a catch and Aaron Boone who has 3 touchdowns. Chase Harp is a solid tight end as Kentucky likes to spread the ball around. The offensive line is not overly big but they are solid and led by right tackle Antonio Hall.

Cats Scheme:
It is very similar to Florida's in that they like the one back three wide receiver set. They will use the tight end as well. In the passing game, they still use some of the plays left under Hal Mumme as Guy Morris worked for Mumme at Valdosta State. They like the quick screens to their wideouts and they use short crossing routes underneath. They do go down the field on the fade route but really like to run the corner. The difference has been the running game where UK will get under center and run it and in the shotgun. They like the "draw trap" which the backside tackle pulls and kicks out the end. They like the "fold" which the center and the guard exchange responsibilities for and inside run game. They like to throw the "y" cross to Harp, especially in long yardage situations. This is a good offense that will also allow Lorenzen to change the play at the line of scrimmage. They have scored on 17 of 18 possessions inside the redzone area including 15 touchdowns, so they know how to get it to pay dirt when they are down there. They are also one of the better third down teams in the conference converting better than 46 percent of the time.

Gators on Attack:
The one good thing is that the UF players have seen some elements of this offense during the spring and fall drills facing their own. Clint Mitchell and the defensive ends will be under pressure to recognize run and still be able to put pressure on the passer. He has a quick release and is very big which means Bobby McCray could finally be a factor this week. The outside linebackers, mainly Mike Nattiel and the nickel back Cory Bailey, will have a tough task with finding Pinner. They will throw him the ball on screens, flat routes and wheel routes down the field. UF's inside guys should dominate this game with Ian Scott, Tron LaFavor and Bryan Savelio. The Wildcats will try to trap them so it is important for the tackles to hold their ground. This could be a breakout day as for interception(s) for the secondary. If the Gators make Kentucky one dimensional then Todd Johnson and Ratliff may get a couple of interception on the crossing routes.

Big Game Gators:
Mike Nattiel, Todd Johnson, Clint Mitchell, Bobby McCray.

Kentucky Defense:
The Wildcats are an improved defense because they have switched to an eight man front or the new 4-2-5 look. While their total yardage given up is not that impressive at 358 yards a game they held teams to 18 points a game which is 30th in the country. The rushing defense gives up 4.5 yards per carry and for them to improve on that versus Florida, inside linebacker Ronnie Riley is going to have to play up to his billing. They do have two good defensive tackles in Dewayne Robertson, who could be in the NFL soon, and Jeremy Caudill at almost 300 pounds. The secondary is pretty good with free safety Quentus Cumby who has already returned and interception for a touchdown and safety David Johnson who has 3 tackles for loss. Morris Lane the other inside linebacker leads in tackles while corner Derrick Tatum is their best cover guy.

Cat Scheme:
By running the 4-2-5 it allows the Wildcats to bring guys from every where. Eight different players have recorded sacks with DE Vincent Burns leading them in tackles for loss. Look for the Cats to blitz on the outside with safeties, usually to the tight end side. They will play a lot of cover 1 and 3 in the secondary. Look for zone coverage early to feel there way out on the Gator game plan. They will line up their two linebackers on the guards and try to hide them behind their defensive tackles. The Cats will play man to man some especially in the redzone area where they have only given up 6 touchdowns in 12 trips.

Gator Attack:
Florida will continue to do what it does and that is no huddle shotgun and spread the ball around. Depending on the conditions this could be a huge day for the running backs. Earnest Graham and Ran Carthon could combine for over 150 yards. The trap out of shotgun will be successful as will the zone play from under center. Rex will face a secondary that is pretty experienced but should be able to get some deep throws to Jacobs and Perez. The Gators will restart the tight ends this week by getting Walker and Troupe some more catches. Shannon Snell, Mike Degory and David Jorgensen have a good challenge on the inside and need to win the early battles. I think if the conditions are good Florida can run at will on Kentucky. If it rains look for Carthon "the mudder" to excel. As for pass protection UF should be able to block the front four but the blitzes and zone type blitzes will be the ones they need to recognize and react to when picking them up.

Big Game Gators:
Rex Grossman, Ran Carthon, Earnest Graham, Carlos Perez and Shannon Snell.

Special Teams:
Kentucky has good kickers in punter Glenn Pakulak and place-kicker Taylor Begley. Begley has already won the SEC special teams player of the week for his three field goal game in the season opener versus Louisville. Pakulak has put 9 of 19 punts inside the 20. This is a team that likes to play field position so keep an eye on Pakulak. The coverage teams are another story as the Wildcat talent thins out and it shows. The kickoff cover team is susceptible to giving up a huge return. Florida gained confidence in it's special teams with the win over Tennesee. Morton does need to get his punts off quicker though.

How does it play out?
Florida has regained it's confidence with the convincing victory over the Vols. They must now regain the Swamp magic that has escaped Ben Hill Griffin stadium the last two big games there. That's right it is a big game because Kentucky believes it can win and is 4-0. Look for a big day on the ground and Rex to put back to back 20 completion games on the board. That is the magic number for producing a win in this offense. Defensively the key will to make Kentucky throw and not give up the big plays. Pinner and Abney may get one or two big plays but I think the Gators will get turnovers this week. Finally this could be a close game but the 4th quarter drive administered by Rex last week told me this could be the start of something special.

Florida 47-17

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