Grading the Florida Gators vs. Kentucky game

By Adam Silverstein
September 28, 2010

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive grades the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Kentucky Wildcats in the fourth game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: A+
Standing on his own, redshirt junior John Brantley had an “A-” performance on Saturday, completing over 68 percent of his passes (24-of-35) for a career-high 248 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Though his 131.81 passer rating was his third-best of the season (due to the turnover), Brantley posted the best performance of his career and was instrumental in the Gators converting 7-of-11 third downs. Of course Brantley’s positive output was overshadowed by freshman Trey Burton, who accounted for six touchdowns on the day. Playing as single wing QB, running back, wide receiver and tight end, Burton rushed for 40 yards and five touchdowns, caught five balls for 37 yards and a touchdown and completed a pass on his only attempt for 42 yards. When you combine Brantley’s significant improvement with Burton’s stellar evening, there is truly no other grade to give his unit.

RUNNING BACKS: B+
After a monster 267-yard performance against South Florida, Florida’s running game came back down to earth against Tennessee. It returned to prominence once again against Kentucky, with all three of the team’s rushers posting good statistics. Junior Jeff Demps (who left the game in the second half with an injured foot) rushed eight times for 57 yards (7.1 average), redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody gained 46 yards on 10 carries (4.6 average) and sophomore Mike Gillislee ran the ball six times for 32 yards (5.3 average). Burton, a QB, scored all of the Gators’ rushing touchdowns, but these backs were instrumental in all six of UF’s scoring drives.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Kentucky game after the jump…

WIDE RECEIVERS: A
The Gators’ two top pass catchers, redshirt junior Denote Thompson and redshirt senior Carl Moore, continue to lead the way for the rest of the unit. The duo combined for nine receptions for 158 yards on Saturday, with all of Moore’s catches once again coming on third down and resulting in the chains being moved. Thompson and Moore’s individual performances of 86 and 72 yards were also respective career-highs. Freshman Andre Debose saw action for the third time this season but caught his first passes, reeling in four in the first quarter to finish with 36 yards. The only slight down spot was sophomore Omarius Hines, who was mostly absent from a pass-catching standpoint until Burton hit him with a 42-yard pass in the fourth quarter.

TIGHT ENDS: I
Incomplete.

OFFENSIVE LINE: A
Taking a small step back last week against Tennessee, the offensive line found its stride once again in the friendly confines of The Swamp. Sophomore Xavier Nixon has been moved to right tackle with redshirt senior Marcus Gilbert taking over the left tackle role protecting Brantley’s blind side. The running game bounced back, major holes were opened for Burton on some single wing runs and Brantley received plenty of protection and pocket time to deliver the ball down the field. Even though every starting lineman had an ankle or knee injury at one point or another during the game, the unit truly came together and proved what it can do when playing at its best.

DEFENSIVE LINE: B-
The defensive line seems to have significant variances week-to-week, limiting Miami (OH) and Tennessee to four and 47 rushing yards, respectively, while allowing South Florida (244 yards) and Kentucky (112 yards) to post big gains. The Wildcats’ Derrick Locke rushed 23 times for 103 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Florida did get a bit of pressure on Kentucky QB Mike Hartline, forcing him into two interceptions. Senior defensive ends Justin Trattou (two tackles for loss) and Duke Lemmens (QB hit) stood out on the outside, while redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard (three tackles, one for loss) played arguably the best game of his career on the inside. Freshman DT Sharrif Floyd got action as a starter, and redshirt sophomore DE Earl Okine registered the Gators’ only sack. Though head coach Urban Meyer praised the unit, they are going to need to play much better than this to contain Alabama.

LINEBACKERS: B+
For the second-straight week and third time this season, sophomore Jon Bostic led the way for his unit with a clutch interception. He also registered three tackles on the day, second only to redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins, who notched a team-high eight tackles (six solo, one for loss). Redshirt senior A.J. Jones also played well, with four tackles (two solo) and a pass breakup. Considering all three starters were named Champions and Bostic and Jenkins continue to play well, the grade falls just slightly.

SECONDARY: B+
After pulling in three interceptions in consecutive weeks, the Gators’ secondary struggled a bit against Tennessee but rebounded against Kentucky. Aside from two big receptions by Wildcats WR Chris Matthews, a 42-yard pass and 27-yard touchdown, the unit looked relatively strong disrupting Hartline’s rhythm. Freshman cornerback Cody Riggs was victimized on a few occasions, and you can bet that he won’t be seeing nearly as much action next Saturday against Alabama. The unit was also big in stopping the running game with five players listed among Florida’s top seven tacklers on the evening. Safeties senior Ahmad Black (six), junior Will Hill (five) and freshman Matt Elam (four) along with junior CB Janoris Jenkins were all responsible in that regard. Redshirt junior CB Jeremy Brown also nabbed a great interception by jumping a route and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown to give the Gators an early 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis averaged 65.2 yards on his eight kickoff attempts and did not attempt a field goal. Senior punter Chas Henry continued his dominance, kicking three balls down the field for an average of 56 yards. The kickoff coverage unit performed fine, but the punting team did allow a rare 21-yard return. On the offensive side, neither Demps nor Ja. Jenkins did much in the form of returning on their five combined opportunities. However, Florida did block Kentucky’s 35-yard field goal attempt with 9:03 remaining in the game.

COACHING: A-
Just as the Gators made it a point to concentrate on the run against Tennessee, Florida’s goal on Saturday was obviously to air it out. Brantley, Thompson and Moore all seem to have hit their strides, while Debose finally got to see the field and showed his explosive capabilities. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, WR coach Zach Azzanni, QB coach Scot Loeffler and tight ends coach Brian White all deserve credit this week. Addazio for opening up the playbook (which was also influenced by Azzanni and Loeffler), Azzanni for the development of his receivers, Loeffler for what he’s done with Brantley and White for working so closely with Burton. Florida was perfect in the red zone once again and amazing on third down. The secondary seemed to come together after a rough week and the LBs were stout, but we have some questions about the defensive line. The one thing standing in the way of a full “A” grade this week was the fake field goal touchdown pass, which the coaches in the booth completely missed. It ended up being a minor oversight in the terms of this game, but it could have potentially been deadly in a closer contest. That’s a deduction.

OVERALL: A-
After every game Meyer notes that he is most concerned about the team improving on a week-to-week basis. For the fourth consecutive week, the Gators did just that with the offense showing the biggest improvement. As effective as Burton was throughout the contest, the remainder of the offense put him in the position to score those six touchdowns. And aside from a fake field goal thrown for a touchdown, Florida’s defense held an athletic and talented Kentucky team to one other score. This is the type of game the Gators needed to play before heading to Tuscaloosa, AL, to face No. 1 Alabama.

17 Comments

  1. npgator says:

    It was kind of neat that all the touchdowns were scored by number 8. I noticed in recent years that we have players on both sides of the ball wearing the same numbers. Howard and Thompson are both 6 – Brown and Burton are both 8. When did this start and are the Gators the only team that does this?

  2. Charles says:

    Jaye Howard correction 3 tackles one for a loss, not 3 sacks

  3. Ahab says:

    Kentucky’s rushing totals are kind of misleading. Locke picked up 36 of those yards on 5 carries during UK’s last drive while the subs were in. On his previous 18 carries, 10 of them were for 3 yards or less and 5 of them were for no gain or negative yards. Locke’s longest run was 13 yards and he only had two 10+ yard runs all game. Overall, I thought our DL handled UK’s rushing attack well.

  4. brlgator says:

    I went back and rewatched the first half of the game last night and I was more impressed on my second viewing then on the live viewing.

    Initially I thought we had very little chance of going to bama next week and winning but if we take another step forward this week like we have the last 4, we will give them hell.

    And remember everyone although it would be nice to beat bama in bama in early october, I d still prefer a win in mid to late december in atlanta over them or whoever.

  5. Gatorbuc15 says:

    I agree with the grades Adam. They are all very acurate IMO.

  6. Ahab says:

    It doesn’t matter if you’re playing fantasy football but when you’re talking about real games it does. Giving up some rushing yards when the game is over and UK is just trying to run out the clock is not that significant. I agree that the pass rush needs to improve.

  7. Gatormiami says:

    Improvement of 1 letter grade from Vols game? No…. 1000% improvement! =B+ (An ‘A’ grade means we’re ready to play with Bama!)

  8. I respect your opinion Ahab, but I disagree with how you are going about presenting it. And I’m not going to argue with you. Yes, perspective needs to be given, but the defensive line simply did not play up to how I feel it can and has. Period.

    Gatormiami – Overall grade is a compilation of the grades of each unit, both sides of the ball, the special teams and the coaching. It is not representative of how “good” the team is going into another game. It’s how the team played that week. That was an A- performance on Saturday. If they had the same game against Alabama, that might only grade out as a C+ or B-. Each game is unique and each performance is unique. Either way, you’re arguing about 1/3 of a letter grade.

  9. Luke says:

    The only grade I disagree with is the special teams because of the return yards given up, a couple close, but missed punt blocks, and the fact that no one got the count right on the fake field goal to see that one player was hiding out on the sideline. I guess that could go to the coaches, since Meyer pointed out that the coaches on the field couldn’t see it, so it would need to be called down from the box or the captains on the field should have noticed only 10 men in the formation. Not that it matters a whole lot, but thought I’d add my two cents.

    BTW, I tell everyone I know about OGGOA… your blog is definitely my #1 site for Gator Sports news. Keep up the great reporting.

  10. DoctorGator says:

    Adam;

    Great site. Thanks so much for all you do. I check it every day. Also, I agree with the grades overall.

    However, I think your argument for Ahab is extremely weak. UK was keeping their All-SEC-type RB in the game for one reason – to get him 100 yards in every game this season. They kept their starting line in to block for him also. As soon as he went over 100 yards, they took him out.

    Our third string front 7 gave up as many yards rushing in the last 8-10 minutes of the game as the regular rotation gave up in the first 50-52 minutes of the game.

    I watched the game again last night also. If our regular rotation in the front 7 has to play a whole lot better against Bama than they did agains UK for us to win, we will not win. We cannot play appreciably better than we did against UK. Small improvement is possible, sure, even expectsd as we gain more experience; but our front 7 flat-out got after their butts.

    I think we’ll see more of the same against Bama.

    • 1) I didn’t make an argument against Ahab’s statement. All I said was that it did not matter to me how he got the yards and, what I was most concerned with, was the pass rush.

      2) Are the players who gave up the yardage not considered defensive linemen? Should I attribute that yardage to another position or just ignore it because those players are not starters and are second-stringers? Whether or not the rushing yardage argument holds water, the grade would have stayed the same anyway.

      3) If you don’t think that group can and has already this season played better, then you are simply wrong. The front seven must improve, ESPECIALLY in the pass rush and getting pressure on the quarterback. I don’t think you understand how much better Alabama’s offensive line is comparative to that of Tennessee and Kentucky. That’s not even mentioning the guys hitting the holes (Ingram, Richardson) being the two best in the entire SEC.

      I see a need for improvement. It is as simple as that. But I respect your opinion to the contrary.

  11. DoctorGator says:

    Don’t be condescending. Iwas sitting in the bleachers watching Gator games when your father was a boy. Just because you have a little blog doesn’t mean you know squat. I played the game.

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