9/13: Florida-Kentucky post-game report

By Adam Silverstein
September 14, 2014

It took longer than anyone wanted, but the Florida Gators (2-0, 1-0 SEC) eventually took down the Kentucky Wildcats (2-1, 0-1 SEC) in three overtimes on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators edged the Wildcats 36-30 on the backs of two offensive playmakers and a three-turnover night from their defense.

Head coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media after the hard-fought victory, which also included a number of standout statistics and historic marks.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida improved to 48-17 all-time against Kentucky, extending its winning streak in the series to 28-straight games dating back to 1986. It is the longest active winning streak in the nation between teams that play annually.
» The Gators forced three turnovers on Saturday and are now +7 on the season.
» Florida is now 4-2 all-time in overtime games, 3-1 in The Swamp. The Gators have won four-straight overtime games with Saturday’s triple-overtime contest being the first-ever in school history.
» Kentucky held a second half lead against Florida for the first time since 2003.
» It is just the fourth time in UF history that the team had a 200-yard receiver and 100-yard rusher achieve their marks in the same game.
» The Gators have won 10-straight SEC openers dating back to 2004.
» Florida has amassed 1,187 yards of total offense and 101 points in two games. The Gators needed five games in 2013 to eclipse 101 points.


» Redshirt senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar dropped a couple but hauled in two balls Saturday and has now caught a pass in 30-straight games, extending his school record.
» Sophomore Demarcus Robinson matched Carlos Alvarez (1969) for most receptions by a Florida wideout in a single game with 15. The mark is also sixth-most in a single game in SEC history.
» Robinson’s 216 receiving yards vaulted him to fourth on the Gators all-time list for most in a single game. He is behind only Taylor Jacobs (246 yards, 2002), Carlos Alvarez (237 yards, 1969) and Travis McGriff (222 yards, 1998)
» Robinson has amassed 339 yards and three touchdowns in two games this season. Only one Florida receiver had more than three touchdowns in all of 2013 (Solomon Patton, six) and only three had more yards in all of 2013 (Patton, Dunbar, Trey Burton).
» Robinson is the first UF player since Jabar Gaffney (twice, 2001) to post consecutive games with 100+ receiving yards.
» Sophomore safety Keanu Neal intercepted two passes on Saturday, becoming the first Gators player since Ahmad Black (2011) to do so in one game.
» Junior running back Matt Jones rushed a career-high 29 times for 156 yards with a touchdown. It was the second 100+ (and 150+) yard game of his career.
» Senior tight end Tevin Westbrook scored his first career touchdown.
» Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel threw for a career-high 295 yards. His three passing touchdowns were the second-most in his career (four, South Carolina, 2011).

NEAR-DISASTER

For all the criticisms thrown the way of Driskel for overthrowing a few passes, Florida’s receivers for dropping a couple balls or the Gators’ kickers for missing important field goals, the most egregious issues for Florida on Saturday came from its secondary.

The Gators did ultimately grab three interceptions, but Florida dropped a number of others and either blew coverage or simply got beaten down the field time and time again. That’s how Kentucky signal caller Patrick Towles racked up 369 yards and three touchdowns with WR Garrett Johnson hauling in six balls for 154 yards and two of those scores.

“Defensively we just, uh, you know, uh, we got to cover better. Bottom line. That’s my responsibility, and we’ll improve on it,” explained Muschamp.

“We just got to tie some things up in the secondary. They had six big plays for 173 yards. When you play a team that’s going to be willing to throw the ball vertically that much, there’s going to be some 50-50 balls. We need to play the ball better in some situations. We didn’t and that was very frustrating.”

The Wildcats converted 37.5 percent of their third down attempts but that statistic does not tell the entire story. UK started 0-for-7 on third down in the game but figured out that UF was playing soft coverage on third down and took advantage of it to convert 6-of-7 in the middle of the contest including a big 3rd and 15 from its own one-yard line.

“We’re just soft in coverage in third down. That’s really stupid. And that’s on me. We’ll get it corrected,” Muschamp admitted.

Neal added: “Communication, just a lack of communication on the deep end. You know, the safety has to communicate everything to the defensive backs. That’s on me. That’s on Jabari [Gorman]. We just have to communicate to each other as well as the cornerbacks and the nickels.”

Gorman was especially susceptible to being beat on Saturday, giving up three big plays and two touchdowns on the evening. Florida also gave up a completely wide open touchdown pass due to a miscommunication.

UNEVEN OFFICIATING

For as much as Wildcats supporters will complain about the Gators being allowed to get off their 4th and 7 play in overtime with the play clock seemingly having run out, it was one of few calls (or non-calls, in that instance) that went Florida’s way on Saturday.

UF was called for a questionable pass interference penalty on UK’s first series of the game and picked up three flags in the first four total drives. A second, more questionable pass interference was called on the Gators on an underthrown pass at the start of the fourth quarter, though Florida certainly deserved a face mask called on senior defensive tackle Darious Cummings in overtime.

Animated GIF Credit:
@CorkGaines

Worse though, at least as far as Florida was concerned, was what the officials did not call. The most egregious was an obvious late hit on sophomore running back Kelvin Taylor, who slipped on a run and fell to the ground only to be speared with the crown of a player’s helmet a couple seconds after he was already down. It was not only a late hit but also an uncalled targeting penalty.

“Kelvin’s back was really sore from when he got speared on our sideline,” quipped Muschamp.

Added Jones, who ran more intensely after the play: “It really made me mad that they took a cheap shot at my boy. I was saying, ‘I hope he gets up.’ He got up and we did what we had to do.”

SOMETHING TO BUILD ON

Despite some of the Gators’ struggles and the sheer fear from the fan base that Florida might see another dominant winning streak come to an end, UF pulled out the victory on Saturday in a game that it surely would have lost one year ago.

The Gators scored 33 of their 36 points in the second half and overtime, answered touchdowns and field goals with scores of their own and fought hard until the final whistle.

“The positive of it? It’s a very adverse game. There’s going to be games like that when you play in our conference and you got to find ways to win those games, and our guys found a way to win the game,” Muschamp said. “That’s a huge positive. To show some resiliency and fighting through adversity and all the positives in that.”

Muschamp would normally be visibly frustrated after a close win like that, especially early in his career at Florida. On Saturday, he appeared to have a level mindset and even cracked a joke at the tail end of his press conference.

“I just think we got a lot to work on. I don’t really feel relief after games. I look at it from a technical standpoint of we got to clean some things up on the back end. Our guys fought. It wasn’t always pretty at times,” he said.

“More than anything, we missed some football with the Idaho game, figured we’d give y’all a little extra shot to watch some ball. It’s paying the fans back, you know?”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp on the game as a whole: “Credit to our fans. It was a great environment, and we certainly made it interesting.”

» Muschamp said freshman wide receiver C.J. Worton broke his hand in practice and will miss at least 2-3 weeks while he wears a cast.

» Junior WR Latroy Pittman made a touchdown-saving tackle on Driskel’s interception.

» An untimely false start forced the officials to negate a made 46-yard field goal by Kentucky late in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats, however, ended up banking in the ensuing 51-yard attempt.

HONORARY MR. TWO-BITS

WWE superstar Titus O’Neil, better known by some Florida fans as former defensive end Thaddeus Bullard, filled in as the honorary Mr. Two-Bits before Saturday’s game. It was a strong effort from O’Neil, who chose to rip his shirt off at the tail end of the performance. O’Neil has recently begun to go by the nickname “Gator” in WWE.

19 Comments

  1. Champ supporter says:

    Thanks Adam for putting a more positive spin to the victory. I am not feeling the negativity that I have read on some other gator sites or comment boards. We won and that’s the point. I know we have had this streak, but Kentucky is pretty good. Outside of Vandy, there are some pretty good teams in this conference. There is nothing surprising to the game yesterday. There were questions about Driskell, the inexperienced secondary and the kicking game. So, why are we disappointed when those issues present themselves. We don’t win this game last year. We just don’t. We are 2-0 and 1-0 in SEC which is where everyone expected us to be before the Bama game. So, I think some of Gator Nation can chill out and enjoy the fact that we won. We had 532 yards of total offense and some are still complaining.

    That team kept fighting and they pulled out the win. I just see each week as its own with the winning the game as the objective. Again, thanks Adam for pulling out some positives!

  2. SW FL Joe says:

    I thought we had a package for Harris. I would like to see him at least one series a half. Change of pace and gives Jeff a breather.

    • G2 says:

      Seems like we were too tight calling plays in the second half since we were in a dogfight er catfight. Wanted to see Treon, Adam Lane and some of the other young guys get a chance but they rode M Jones and D Robinson the whole way. It worked out in the end but not without tremendous luck (int deflected to DR and exp time clock), and I thought the only luck WM had was bad luck.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Muschamp doesn’t play his 2nd and 3rd stringers. Gives them scholarships but won’t play them. That’s one of the reasons that injuries hurt us so badly. The guys backing up our starters don’t have any experience.

        Over and over he ran our WR’s down the field without resting them with quality back-ups like Debose, Thompson, Alvin Bailey, Pittman and others.

  3. Michael J. says:

    Face it, the game was a disaster. The only thing positive is the win and someone finally libving up to the hype, Robinson. Jeff Driskel still sucks, the Gators still can’t rush the quarterback, and the inexperience in the secondary is going to be a problem. I look at the schedule and see only two games where I feel confident UF will win, the paid scrub and Vanderbilt. UF could at least demolish Kentucky last year with a bad team, this year’s version needs three overtime periods to eke out a win at home. Now the Gators start playing good teams, sorry, but Kentucky is still a bad team. UF would have blown out Kentucky is they had a quarterback that can throw the ball. UF’s receivers were constantly getting behind Kentucky’s secondary, which isn’t saying much, they’re still Kentucky players. Roper finally figured out that it was a waste of time to call deep passes because he didn’t have a quarterback that could get the ball anywhere near the receiver. Unless I’m mistaken, the season will be over after the next two games. If Alabama blows UF out and UF loses to Tennessee, it will be time to get a new coach and a new quarterback. Foley was ecstatic after last night’s win. That’s how low the expectations are now, getting excited over winning a three overtime game at home against Kentucky.

    • Champ supporter says:

      If the “disasters” keep ending in wins, then whatever!

      Who wouldn’t be ecstatic about the win! Oh wait, I forgot how spoiled this fan base has become. I forgot that wins are entitled at the University of Florida. Man, I keep forgetting those things! Such foolery!

  4. Kaleb Wolfe says:

    The only silver lining to this game I hope is that it may mentally bring this team together in the only way it really could, look I’m a pessimist but this game was the best thing that could’ve happened going into the next game it’ll certainly humble them before they go up to Tuscaloosa & hopefully wake them the hell up!!! (Maybe…) As for that 4th down snap look us Gators as well as Muschamp can’t ever catch a break with these SEC refs all Gator fans are well aware how SEC officiating loves to screw us over even during the Spurrier years we were the most penalized team all Gator are well aware of this so I say it’s about time we didn’t get screwed over for once. By the way Sunday the head of officiating reviewed the play in question & reintegrated that the ball had left the center’s hand before the clocked zero. Adam I have an important question why if Kurt Roper is going to run the zone read option out of the shotgun for lord’s sake why will they not let Jeff Driskel use his legs & do what he does best, time after time UK’s defensive ends were crashing down on Matt Jones had Jeff Driskel kept the ball, he could’ve scored several times when we were inside the redzone & we wouldn’t had even had to go to overtime. Here’s hoping that Coach Kurt Roper as well as Jeff Driskel really actually watch the game tape from Saturday Night whew… Go Gators!!!!!!

  5. Michael Jones says:

    I saw the games Roper called against FSU and Texas A&M last year. That’s not the same game he called against UK Saturday night and I can’t help but be suspicious that Muschamp is STILL exerting too much conservative influence over the offense. Too often we let off the gas and played for the field goal. That smacks of Muschamp’s philosophy of over-reliance upon his defense, being paranoid about his offense, and trying to win a game 11-9.

    As for Driskel, if he learns anything from this game, I hope that he saw all the good things that happened for the UK QB when he gave his receivers a chance on the deep balls. The WR always has an advantage over the DB on deep balls. I hope Driskel will stop trying so hard to throw the perfect deep ball and instead give our WR’s a chance to make a play on it. We have some studs at WR. . give’em a chance, man. The overthrown or out-of-bounds deep ball is a DB’s best friend.

    • Kaleb Wolfe says:

      You’re right it’s always the wideouts advantage Jeff needs to understand that the more air underneath the ball the better the chance the receiver has to make the play just like I once heard Roper say the AIR is you’re friend I mean this isn’t John Brantley throwing deep passes anything past 15 yards was tricky for him, Driskel has got a cannon & we do have wideouts that have speed & talent the worst case scenario is an incomplete I believe they’ve got to keep trying the deep ball cuz all our opponents are going to do is cover us man on man & put 7 guys in the box dare us to pass & god forbid we get in a 3rd & long they’ll send the house & for some damn reason we send our receivers to run these waste of a route. Look just know you’re down & distance right realize they’re coming & change the route accordingly it’s not creaking rocket science it reminds me of Brent Pease & “Offensive Guru” Charlie Weisz yeah it’s easy to be a guru when you’ve got Tom Brady as your starting QB, honestly I pray that Coach Muschamp just lets Roper do what he was paid to do. Muschamp needs to be busy making sure where his DB’s are at during 3rd and longs.

    • gatorcooken says:

      Michael,

      I thought the same. ESPECIALLY in OT. I know Jones was getting the yardage, but run up the middle, again, and again, eventually led to that 4th and 7 where luckily Kentucky’s secondary blew the coverage in the back of the end zone. Where was that Roper element then?

    • Michael J. says:

      I think it was the right thing to do to be conservative on offense last night. They tried to be wide open, Roper certainly tried to go vertical. But, it doesn’t make sense to keep trying to go downfield if you don’t have a guy that can throw the ball. It’s just a waste of a down and puts the offense behind schedule. Kentucky is a bad team, so bad that they still couldn’t win when UF tried their best to hand them the game. How many times have you seen someone not score on the Driskel interception and the ball that popped off a Kentucky defenders chest into Robinson’s hands? But that’s what bad teams do, they can’t take advantage of opportunities like that. Kentucky is Matt Jones’ favorite team, they just don’t have the personnel to stop a power running game. So, no, I don’t think there was anything wrong with the play calling. Running the ball down Kentucky’s throat was the right thing to do. I just don’t think that strategy will work against good teams, like the one that UF plays Saturday. But there’s the problem, do you actually want to rely on Jeff Driskel to make plays? I don’t think that just running the ball and throwing horizontal passes is going to be enough against a good team. This isn’t 2012, that great defense and special teams isn’t around this year.

    • DFWGator says:

      Actually the underthrown ball is the DB’s best friend.

      Robinson had 200+ yards…….but Driskel didn’t give him a chance? Give me a break.

      If he learns anything from this game, it needs to be a few tweaks to his accuracy. For almost all of his overthrown balls, there was a dropped pass by a WR.

      1000+ yards of offense in the first two games, career records for our QB, and Gator Nation still finds a way to complain about the play calling. The sad part is, I’m not even surprised by this anymore.

      Go Gators

  6. cline says:

    I am not a WM hater, but at times his antics on the sidelines are borderline unprofessional at times.

    hope we get our boys coached up for this weekend. GO GATORS

    • Michael Jones says:

      You’re being too kind, Cline. The guy acts like a total idiot on the sidelines. TV announcers apologize for his profanity and the refs don’t seem to care much for him. Not a very good representative of our school either. Dude needs to learn some manners.

  7. Aligator says:

    Muschamp was defiantly calling the shots! Driskel needs to play with some passion and stop looking down his receivers!

  8. Michael Jones says:

    What is up with the 2nd half goofy scoreboard spots of the players acting like rock stars urging the fans to cheer louder? Same with the players on the field dancing around and grooving to the band during breaks? Same with incessant personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that continue to plague our undisciplined team.

    This isn’t about winning or losing. . it’s about a goofball coach running a goofball program that he apparently has no control over.

    The only difference I see between Muschamp and Zook is that Zook had more class and was a better recruiter.

    • gatorboi352 says:

      Lol…. glad to see you back in “mid season” form, Jones.

      I knew all that off season optimism would fade soon enough.

      Driskel has hit his ceiling. This is it, folks. Probably isn’t running due to his injury last year as well.

      • G2 says:

        Agree with everything you guys are saying here, optimism has faded on my end. Goofball stuff is rampant, Champ doesn’t have a clue about being a head coach (a good DC maybe but someone went back and took a look at his defensive record everywhere he has been and always got worse, not better over time).
        With the talent I “think” we have should be an 8-9 win season, don’t see that right now.Treon takes over soon.

  9. Mike the Red says:

    It is tough to say how good UK is this early in the season. Mark Stoops is a good coach.

    Driskel still cannot throw a deep ball. Finally put some touch in the second half but is holding on too long.

    The secondary has problems. That surprised me.

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