Signs of Life on Defense: It's a stretch to say the Wildcats played "good D" on Saturday. After all, they did surrender 31 points. But many of those were set up by turnovers from the UK offense, and the defense suffered from being on the field far too long as the day progressed. We saw two 3-and-outs to start the game and a really nice interception by Martavius Neloms in the end zone to thwart a Gator scoring threat early in the game. In the recent history of this series, UK has trailed 94-3 after one period of play. On Saturday, it was 3-0. It was just 10-0 midway through the second quarter, so the defense did its best to keep the Cats in the game.
Offensive Line: The UK O-Line was rock solid once again, paving the way for the Cats to average 5.0 yards per rushing attempt and allowing no sacks. The unit has surrendered only four sacks through four games.
Timing: It was one of those "That's so UK" days. The defense actually gave the Cats a chance to be competitive at The Swamp, but the offense was without the SEC's leading passer, Maxwell Smith, who missed the game due to the lingering effects of a shoulder injury he sustained late in the loss to Western Kentucky. Could UK have beaten No. 14 Florida with a healthy Smith? Doubtful. But it could have been interesting at the very least on a day when the Gators weren't firing on all cylinders.
Quarterback Play: Morgan Newton got thrust into a difficult role Saturday due to the decision to hold Smith out. He has been getting most of his reps at H-back lately and clearly isn't able to throw well coming off surgery in the off-season. Some would argue he wasn't able to throw accurately before that injury, which made it all that more excruciating to watch him miss wide-open targets and find the Gators with such frequency. Newton finished 7-of-21 for 48 yards and three interceptions. When freshman Jalen Whitlow finally got the call from the bullpen, he didn't fare much better, connecting on only one of six attempts. Florida recorded more yardage on interception returns (65) than Kentucky did via the air (60).
Gameplan: The coaches have to take their share of fair criticism for putting Newton in that position. They spoke all week long about the desire to run the ball more often, then, given the perfect opportunity to do so, chose not to. Instead, they allowed Newton to throw 20 times in the first half of a game that was not out of hand and ignored the fact that Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George were picking up nice chunks of yardage every time they touched the ball. Those kind of puzzling decisions don't help when it comes to the "hot seat."
Field Goals: It's hard to fault Craig McIntosh for missing a 54-yard attempt, but he also missed the mark on a more manageable 46-yard attempt and is now 2-for-6 on the season. The Cats could have some more competitive SEC games later on the schedule and will need to capitalize on every scoring opportunity to have a shot to win.
Transfer Rumors: You're going to hear anything and everything the next few weeks about players transferring out of the program. Most of them will be exaggerated and/or complete fantasy by those seeking to throw gasoline on the coaching situation dumpster fire, but a few may have legs. The father of UK freshman quarterback Patrick Towles has already spoken to at least one media outlet suggesting the family is not happy with his role on the team. Towles, in response, had to send out a message via Twitter that he doesn't want to be anywhere but UK. The soap opera is just getting started, folks. Buckle up.
By The Numbers:
0 – Points on the board. The first time the Cats have been shut out since a 49-0 loss to LSU on Oct. 14, 2006, a span of 73 games.
1 – The loneliest number, especially if you're UK kickoff specialist Craig McIntosh. It's the fewest amount of times a team can kick off during a game.
2.2 – The average yards per passing play by the Cats on 27 attempts.
3:16 – No, not a Tebow eye-black sticker spotting at The Swamp. The Cats' time of possession in the fourth quarter.
50 – UK's total yardage in the second half.
1986 - The last time UK got the best of the Gators on the football field, "Who's The Boss" was one of the top-rated shows on TV. Now it's the big question whenever the Cats meet Florida next season.
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