Rapid reaction: Florida escapes with 14-9 win over Kentucky in Lexington
Here are some quick thoughts from Florida’s 14-9 road win over Kentucky:
What it means: Florida keeps its streak against Kentucky, pushing it to 29 games. The Gators escape with a 14-9 victory to improve to 3-0 and 1-0 in the SEC. The Wildcats, now 2-1, are left shaking their heads wondering what it will take to ever beat Florida.
What I liked: Florida coach Jim McElwain stuck with his starting quarterback, Will Grier, despite the offense sputtering in the first quarter (zero completed passes). Grier settled in and made plays with his legs to make up for poor protection and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier gradually got more creative with his play-calls in the second quarter. UF’s front seven absolutely dominated the UK offensive line, putting pressure on QB Patrick Towles and containing the run all night.
The Kentucky defense put previous second-half struggles behind them and made big plays in the final two quarters against the Gators. The Florida defense put the team on its back, keeping the Wildcats out of the end zone.
What I didn’t like: Both offensive lines got dominated, particularly in the first half. The Gators shot themselves in the foot multiple times with easily avoidable penalties (delay of game, 12 men on the field). Florida could never quite put the game away, leaving empty on two trips to the red zone and going three-and-out after the Wildcats cut it to 14-6. The Gators did not score in the second half.
Who’s the man: Grier was clearly in some discomfort as he delivered a gutsy performance on the road in a hostile environment even when his offensive line failed him. The redshirt freshman quarterback’s 12 carries for 61 yards led all Florida rushers.
Key play: This one went down to the wire. It wasn’t over until CB Quincy Wilson made the game-saving interception for the Gators with 46 seconds left.
What’s next: Both teams will play SEC East foes next week. Florida puts another streak on the line when it hosts division rival Tennessee, who hasn’t won against the Gators in 10 years. Kentucky looks to get back on track against Missouri.