Game Day Headquarters: Back Home In The Swamp

For Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips and his Wildcats it has been a rough start to the 2012 season. They are 1-2 with losses to two in-state teams in Louisville and Western Kentucky. Now they travel to #14 ranked Florida who has played above expectations for a game and a half and is 3-0 on the year. The Wildcats may be reeling a bit but they plan on throwing the ball all over the field.

It is what they do. Kentucky has thrown the ball 151 times in three games, (50 per contest). They have been playing from behind so that is part of it, but the plan coming into the season was to throw it more and they are doing it.

The Kentucky defense is struggling, especially at stopping the run. That doesn't really bode well against a team that ran for 336 yard against Tennessee last week.

Here is a closer look at what will / should transpire on Saturday at 12:21 in The Swamp.

Wildcat Offense Vs. Gator Defense…

QB Maxwell Smith (6-4, 224, So.) leads the Wildcat offense and in charge of the top passing offense in the SEC, he's already thrown for 966 yards in three games and ranks 2nd in in the Sec in total offense with 316.3 yards per game.

Kentucky has seven players that already have at least one 20+ yard reception in the first three games, so they do spread it around a bit. The top receiver is #16 La'Rod King (6-4, 222, Sr.) who leads the SEC in receiving with 23 catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He is 10th all-time in Wildcat history with 1,432 yards receiving and is tied for sixth in career touchdown catches (15).

Another receiver, #27 Aaron Boyd (6-4, 214, Sr.) started in Kentucky's only win of the season for the first time since his freshman year and set career highs in catches (11) and yards (100) vs. Kent State while making his first career touchdown reception. Boyd leads the team with 14 catches for 136 yards.

The Wildcats actually run the ball well, when they decide to do so. They could roll out any of three running backs that have done some things already this season.

Tailback #26 Coshik Williams (5-9, 178, Sr.) led the Wildcats with 486 yards and three touchdowns last season. He earned the starting role in the season opener vs. Louisville and rushed for 62 yards. He did not play vs. Kent State due to injury and carried it just four times for four yards vs. WKU before being sidelined with injury.

Against Kent State, sophomore TB Raymond Sanders turned in a career outing, rushing for a career-high 115 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown and highlighted by a 67-yard TD dash. He is averaging a whopping 9.6 yards per carry.

Junior TB Jonathan George stepped in to lead the team against WKU on the ground. He charted 13 rushes for 51 yards and two touchdowns setting a new career mark with six catches for 54 yards.

With 151 passes attempted this season the Kentucky offensive line has allowed only four sacks. They are blocking for a solid 4.7 tards per rush on the season. They are led by Center #69 Matt Smith (6-4, 296, Sr.) who is in his third year as the starting center and right guard #67 Larry Warford (6-3, 343, Sr.), who is a preseason All-SEC honoree.

Bottom Line…
Western Kentucky picked off Smith four times a week ago, his first four of the year. He isn't mobile and has -17 yards rushing on the season. Florida will probably play it safe early and then move to take away the quick pass forcing Smith to sit in the pocket and eventually get after him. Florida should be able to create some turnovers through the air in the game. They need to try and keep receiver King in check.

Tailback Sanders looks explosive and the draw is going to be big here. The linebackers need to stay on assignment here and not get caught up in the Wildcats throwing it so much.

Outside of all-conference guard Wharton, the Kentucky line is not very big. They will likely be outmatched most of the day both with size and quickness and this is a place where Florida should see maximum advantage and the best unit the Wildcats have faced all year. This looks like a good game for Florida BUCKs Lerentee McCray and Dante Fowler along with whoever is playing at the defensive end spot can have a big day.

Wildcat Defense Vs. Gator Offense

The Kentucky defensive line is an older and more experienced group. Defensive tackles #99 Donte Rumph (6-3, 315, Jr.) and #97 Mister Cobble (6-0, 331, Jr.) have combined for 22 tackles and 2.5tackles for loss in three games and form a monster sized combo inside.

Defensive end #96 Collins Ukwu (6-5, 258, Sr.) ranks fifth in the SEC in sacks with 2.5 and had a career high with 10 tackles vs. WKU. End #94 Taylor Wyndham (6-4, 252, Sr.) has 13 tackles and three tackles for loss on the season.

Middle linebacker #40 Avery Williamson (6-1, 254, Jr.) leads the team and is tied for second in the SEC in tackles per game with 11.0. Weak side linebacker #2 Alvin Dupree (6-4, 249, So.) has 24 tackles. He leads the team and is fourth in the SEC with 4.0 tackles for loss. Linebacker #32 Miles Simpson (6-2, 223, So.) is fourth on the team in tackles with 18 stops.

The Wildcats have had to replace both cornerbacks from a year ago and is led by cornerback #1 Martavius Neloms (6-1, 188, Sr.) who has a solid 21 tackles and has caused two fumbles already this season.

Bottom Line…

The Wildcats rank 92nd nationally in rushing defense giving up 188 yards per game which is a ton of real estate per game. Opponents are hitting nearly 50% on third down conversions another bad number. They have only three takeaways in three games.

As experienced as the front is, they don't seem to be the real play makers on this side of the ball. Their immense size in the middle hasn't translated into a good rush defense.

Florida will try and run on the Cats. A healthy Mike Gillislee will go a long way in making it an easy task, if he isn't good to go or they want to rest him, then it is question on the side of the Gators.

Teams are also completing over 70% against the Kentucky secondary, again it isn't a good number. An inexperienced secondary has a lot of tackles, but that isn't a good thing by any means either.

Wildcat Special Teams

Punter #9 Landon Foster (6-1, 198, Fr.) has a very respectable 44.1 yard average. The Wildcats don't scare anyone with punt returns, but as a team, UK is averaging 27.7 yards per kickoff return, third in the SEC, led by freshman DeMarcus Sweat's 28.7-yard average.

Place kicker #93 Craig McIntosh (6-0, 200, Sr.)is in his third season with field goal duties. He has made 25 of 33 career field goals including both this year of 47 yards each. The longest field goal of his career is 50 yards.

The Gators are back home for the first time in three weeks and look to be the better team in all phases. Below you will find the full week of coverage on your Florida Gators.

TEAM STORIES

Florida and Kentucky ignoring the streak Podcast: Gators and More
Recruiting: Visitors Expected in The Swamp
Video: Gators prepare for Kentucky
Muschamp SEC Teleconference Q & A
Not Overlloking the Wildcats
Strong finishes due to maturity and responding

OFFENSE STORIES

Driskel Improvement Leading Offense
Playmakers being sorted out
Depth Improves Defensive Production
Koehne adjusting to O-Line exterior
No hard feelings for Pease
Focusing on short yardage run game

DEFENSE STORIES

Hunter Talks Maturity
Quinn Notebook: Halftime Locker Room Key
Easley growing from ‘trash talker' to leader
McCray playing for family

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