- There is no room left for moral victories at Kentucky, not when the athletics department is investing the kind of money it has since Mark Stoops' arrival, but it was the best overall defensive showng for the Cats against Florida during the 29-game losing streak. In the 28 games prior to Saturday night, the Gators averaged 41.4 points per game. On six ocasions, they topped 50. And we won't even talk about the specific games during the Curry Era, so this is another positive step in the right direction for Stoops' program. Recruiting is paying off on the defensive side of the ball, and the Cats are starting to develop consistent playmakers. Defensive tackle Cory Johnson was almost unblockable, defensive end Farrington Huguenin set a new career high for tackles (7) for the second straight week, Khalid Henderson had another nice night at linebacker, and defensive back J.D. Harmon came up with yet another huge play when he picked off the Gators in the end zone to thwart a late scoring opportunity and give UK a chance to win the game. Ironically, only Johnson was a Stoops recruit, but his staff deserves a lot of credit for developing those guys and blending in the young talent. The 245 total yards gained by Florida were its lowest figure in the series since that last win by the Cats in 1986.
- Opponents have been in UK's red zone 11 times this season, but have scored only four touchdowns.
- Stanley "Boom" Williams had 80 yards rushing on 16 carries (5.0 avg) against a Florida defense that came into the matchup having surrendered only 51 rushing yards combined (1.2 avg) to its first two opponents. He was the lone bright spot for the UK offense.
- Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles took the brunt of the criticism for an 8-for-24 passing night that ultimately saw the offense fail to produce a touchdown, but he wasn't helped by either his offensive line or his receiver corps. True, Towles missed on some throws once again. Accuracy continues to be the one are he needs to improve the most. But he spent most of the night running for his life as UK had no answer for Florida's pass rush. The Gators sacked Towles six times. On about half of those, he probably should have gotten rid of the ball sooner to avoid taking a big loss, including a brutal 12-yard loss on the final drive near midfield with a chance to win the game. When he did have time to throw, the UK receivers didn't help matters by dropping at least four passes that could have been caught, including a potential touchdown pass to Dorian Baker on the first drive of the game. Some fans have been clamoring for a look at backup QB Drew Barker, but without better line support and hands from the receivers, the result would not be much better. If Towles struggles again next week against Missouri, however, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the UK staff elects to get a long look at Barker the following week against Eastern Kentucky.
- The Cats still aren't getting much of anything from their kickoff and punt return teams. Traditionally, that has always been a weapon that UK has used to narrow the talent gap between itself and the SEC powers. Florida punted six times on the night with UK returning two of them for 9 yards. The Gators allowed only one kickoff return, but it yielded only 16 yards. Not being able to pick up significant field position really hurts the Cats' upset chances in these type of games.
- This one will leave many fans wondering if the Florida streak will ever end. Kentucky should have won last year's game in Gainesville, and the Gators looked vulnerable this time with a first-year head coach in Jim McElwain and a lot of question marks on the offensive side of the ball. Florida will only get better from here -- granted, so should Kentucky -- but the Cats may have to wait another two years before getting a legit shot at the Gators in the friendly confines of CWS. Unbelievably, the skid could be sitting at 30.
By The Numbers:
- No. 1 - "Amanda" by Boston was atop the Billboard Top 40 chart the last time UK defeated Florida. Boston. Let that sink in. Kanye West was 9. Taylor Swift was three years from being born.
- 10 - Times during the losing skid to Florida that UK has scored single-digit points.
- 58 - Yards in losses for the Cats on 10 Florida TFL.
- 192 - Total offensive snaps for UK this season without a completion to a tight end.