Each and every week prior to a Kentucky football game, Cat Scratches will talk with head coach Joker Phillips' for his game plan of attack. Without giving away too much of the game plan, Phillips will tell us his keys to the game, a key matchup and who Kentucky has to look out for on the opposing team.
First key to the game - Use the Gators' speed against them: "You've got to be ready to pick up all the blitzes and all the jumps they do. You've got to make them pay sometimes when they do it too. When they blitz, we've got to throw and catch, we've got to get hats on hats because, when they do blitz, there are creases in the run game. If we can get a hat on a hat in the pass game, there should be some receivers running open. We've got to beat one-on-one coverage."
Cat Scratches' take: Florida's speed entices the Gators to gamble a bit on defense. Though Charlie Strong, the former defensive coordinator, is no longer in the Sunshine State, the Gators still like to blitz - and blitz a lot they do. Florida has averaged three sacks per game, tied for 22nd in the nation. Meanwhile, UK quarterback Mike Hartline has been brought down just one time this season, tied for second in the country. If Kentucky's offensive line can keep up with the speed rushers on the outside and give Hartline enough time to throw the ball down the field, UK should have some one-on-one matchups on the outside. The key, as Phillips said, is taking advantage of them. Florida's fast, but a ball in the air is faster.
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Kentucky Heads South to Start SEC Play with Florida
Starting 3-0 for the third time in the last four seasons, the University of Kentucky football team heads south to Gainesville, Fla., to begin Southeastern Conference play against the ninth-ranked Gators in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Kentucky is 21-53-2 in 76 conference openers, having won two of its last four lid-lifters with wins against Ole Miss in 2006 and Arkansas in 2007. Florida began SEC play last week at Tennessee, notching a 31-17 victory over the Vols in Knoxville.
Last Saturday, Kentucky posted a 47-10 win over Akron to move to 3-0 on the season. The Wildcats put together an all-around performance against the Zips, totaling 544 yards of total offense and holding the Zips to only 172 total yards. The 544 yards of total offense was the most by a UK team since posting 568 yards against Eastern Kentucky University in 2007. UK had balanced offense with 200 rushing and passing yards for a school-record third-consecutive game.
The Wildcats are looking to snap a 23-game losing streak to the Gators. The battle on Saturday against Florida will mark the 21st consecutive time UK has played a ranked UF team. Kentucky is 3-27 all-time against ranked Florida teams.
Associated Press Game Capsule
WHAT'S AT STAKE
One of the longest winning streaks in college football. The Gators have won 23 in a row in the series, the second-longest active streak between two Football Bowl Subdivision teams in an uninterrupted series. Kentucky's last win came on Nov. 15, 1986.
Florida's defense vs. QB Mike Hartline, RB Derrick Locke and WR Randall Cobb. Kentucky's talented trio is among the league leaders in several categories. Hartline ranks third in passing yards, Locke is the SEC's leading rusher and scorer, and Cobb is eighth in receptions.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kentucky: LB Danny Trevathan, who attended high school about an hour from Gainesville, has led the Wildcats in tackles all three games. He has 25 tackles, including six for loss.
Florida: RB Jeff Demps is the only player in the country with a run longer than 70 yards and a kick return longer than 50 yards. He averages 196.7 all-purpose yards a game, which leads the SEC and ranks third in the country. He carried a career-high 26 times last week at Tennessee.
FACTS & FIGURES
Coaches from both teams will wear Coach to Cure MD patches Saturday to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. ... Kentucky hasn't turned the ball over this season, ranking 16th nationally and second in the SEC with a turnover margin of plus-4. Florida ranks second in the nation and leads the league at plus-7. ... Kentucky has won seven consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points. ... The Wildcats haven't beaten a ranked team since 2007, haven't defeated a ranked team on the road since 2002 and haven't knocked off top-10 team from the SEC on the road since 1964. ... Kentucky RBs coach Larry Brinson played at Florida (1973-76), running for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. ... The Gators have won 23 consecutive regular-season games, including 13 straight at home.