No. 14 Florida Gators football (4-0, 3-0 SEC) started slow but eventually blew past the Kentucky Wildcats (1-3, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, FL, shutting out the visitors 38-0 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. After the game, head coach Will Muschamp and sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel discussed the contest.
HISTORY / STREAKS / NOTES
» Florida has won 26-straight games against Kentucky, tying a SEC record for longest one-sided winning streak in league history. UF is 46-17 all-time against UK, 26-4 in The Swamp and 32-1 overall since 1980.
» The Gators are 7-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 8-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points.
» Florida is outscoring opponents 64-13 in the second half and 34-0 in the fourth quarter through four games in 2012.
» The Gators have outscored the Wildcats by at least 30 points in last five meetings.
» Florida registered its first shutout since Sept. 10, 2011 (Alabama-Birmingham) and first conference shutout since Sept. 29, 2001 (Mississippi State).
» The Gators have started the season 4-0 for the fourth-straight year.
» Florida won the time of possession battle by 15:22, more than a full quarter.
» UF nearly doubled UK in total offense (403-219) and more than tripled their opponent in passing offense (203-60).
» The Gators registered three interceptions in the second quarter, marking the first time the team has picked off three passes in a single quarter since Nov. 25, 2006.
Noticeably absent from Saturday’s game was junior running back Trey Burton, who Muschamp said at halftime had suffered back spasms on Friday and was held out of action. He expanded on those comments after the game.
“Trey Burton came in Friday morning with back spasms. We worked on him all day Friday, Friday night, into this morning. We did everything we could do but every time he planted on his right foot he had pain shooting up his right hip. That’s all it was,” he said.
Muschamp added that Burton did have some back spasm issues in 2011 but that the problem Friday came out of nowhere and the staff had not had any indications of him being unable to play prior.
Redshirt sophomore tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and junior defensive end Dominique Easley (knee inflammation) were both held out again though Muschamp specifically said he expects Easley to return against LSU on Oct. 6.
Junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder) and redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (shoulder) were both dinged up during the game with neither returning to the field after being hurt. Muschamp said Floyd had a stinger on his shoulder and should be fine while Reed was unable to regain full range of motion right away and sat out as a precaution.
Read the rest of what Muschamp and Driskel had to say…after the break!
QUARTERBACK TAKES ANOTHER STEP
The leap for sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel may not have been as big this week as it had been the two weeks prior, but he undoubtedly took another step forward against Kentucky on Saturday.
“He keeps so much alive. There’s so many things he brings to the table for us offensively because of his athletic ability,” Muschamp said of Driskel, who went 18/27 for 203 yards with at touchdown and carried the ball eight times for 35 yards and another score. “Again, the throwing game is going to continue to come. We’re going to have our speed bumps; that’s part of the growing process with a young quarterback.”
Driskel looked great at times, good other times and like a sophomore on occasion. He threw some darts but also sailed a few passes and forced one which was intercepted into double coverage in the end zone for no reason whatsoever.
“I just tried to force something that wasn’t there. Plain and simple. I got too greedy and didn’t take what the defense gave me,” he said when explaining the pick after the game.
Driskel did, however, help the Gators go 12-of-17 on third down, a major improvement for the offense after struggling in that area over the first three weeks of the season.
“We had a lot of third-down work this week, and it was emphasized all week long that we got to get better on third down,” he said. “I’m sure that’s going to make the coaching staff happy that we really got dialed in on third down. That was good for our offense.”
YOUNG GUYS SEE THE FIELD
A number of true freshmen saw the field for Florida on Saturday, some out of necessity but others because they earned the opportunity. Raphael Andrades (one reception) earned his first career start at wide receiver, Jonathan Bullard (two tackles) got his first career start at defensive end, D.J. Humphries saw plenty of action at left tackle, and Antonio Morrison (two tackles) once again got the start at Will linebacker.
“We don’t care where you’re from, what grade you are, what you’ve done before or how many starts you’ve got,” Muschamp said when explaining how so many true freshman have been able to contribute. “They deserved the opportunity. You earn the right. You earn the right to play. You earn the right to start given the opportunity.”
Bullard and Morrison both played in place of injured veterans, but Andrades earned his start over redshirt junior WR Andre Debose, who continues to struggle with consistency in practice. “He just needs to practice better. Practice better, play more,” Muschamp said.
Humphries replaced senior LT Xavier Nixon, who appears to be inching his way further and further in the dog house with each passing week.
“We just felt like we needed to pick our tempo up a little bit in getting in and out [of the huddle]. D.J. deserves to play. He’s played well. I don’t care what year he is. He plays well, he practices well, he prepares himself well, he deserves the opportunity,” Muschamp noted.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Muschamp on holding the Wildcats scoreless: “Any time you get a shutout, man, those things are hard to come by in this day and age of football, regardless of who you’re playing.”
» Muschamp said the team will watch film from the Kentucky game on Sunday and return to practice on Tuesday with starters going head-to-head before the younger players scrimmage in the evening. Florida will also practice on Wednesday before beginning preparations for LSU on Thursday and lifting as a team on Friday. The coaches will be recruiting on Monday and Friday with the entire team getting a day off on Saturday before reconvening next Sunday.
» Muschamp on not having any sacks or much quarterback pressure: “We were able to rush four guys pretty much the way we wanted to and cover. That’s what we did. Especially as the game wore on, I told Dan [Quinn], ‘They’re having a hard time moving [the ball] so let’s just cover them and rush four guys.’ That’s what we were able to do and get some turnovers and create get some positive momentum for our team.”
» Muschamp on sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders: “Pop’s very intelligent. He can play a lot of positions. He’s got a little bit of a shoulder right now. The off-week is coming at a good time for him. [...] Pop’s played good football for us since he’s been at Florida.”
» Muschamp on the team’s linebacker depth: “Right now our depth at linebacker is being tested. We got Jelani [Jenkins] out, Neiron [Ball]’s been banged up, Darrin Kitchens [has] been banged up. We’re paper thin now at linebacker actually. ‘Depth’ is not exactly the word I’m thinking of when I’m thinking about our linebackers right now.”
» Driskel on playing LSU in two weeks: “You come to Florida to play the big games against LSU. Two nationally-ranked teams, two powerhouse teams battling in the SEC. That’s why you come here to play.