Date with Gators is the UK’s defining moment – The Interior Journal

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Date with Gators is UK’s defining moment

Posted 8:51 a.m. Thursday, September 8, 2022

MARC MAYNARD

kentucky today

Football analysts say the biggest improvement a team makes all season is from Game 1 to Game 2.

Kentucky is going to need this to be true.

The Cats travel to the Swamp on Saturday after beating Miami of Ohio, 37-13, at Kroger Field. It was a largely uneven performance, with a few red flags amid the sea of ​​blue. There was also a lot to like with some play receivers in Tavian Robinson, Barion Brown and Dane Key among them. But there were also concerns.

Will Levis has been sacked four times and rushed a bit more against the Redhawks who are great for the Mid-American Conference but barely as good as what Kentucky will see on Saturday.

During the preseason hype of predicting 10-2 and 11-1 seasons for Kentucky, the game with the Gators was barely mentioned. But Florida beat seventh-seeded Utah 29-26 on Saturday, sending notice that the Gators best not be forgotten.

I’m sure the coaching staff at Kentucky, who haven’t been part of the Hype Machine, understands this won’t be an easy game and, truth be told, may have picked up a few wrinkles. Let’s hope so. It’s a game where the Kentucky hype is on full display for the nation, a 7:30 night game on ESPN. The nation will be tuning in to watch two top quarterbacks – Florida’s Levis and Anthony Richardson – battle it out on the court. The key to the game may well be keeping the Kentucky quarterback upright.

Levis and Richardson are already receiving NFL hype, with Sports Illustrated projecting Levis to No. 7 and Richardson to No. 9 in the NFL Draft. Levis was average, by his standards, despite throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns in Game 1. Richardson was a double threat, passing for 168 yards and rushing for 106 yards and three touchdowns. He averages 9.6 yards per carry.

Levis is big and strong, and clearly one of the best quarterbacks in the country, but the offensive line has to protect him. It’s a Big Blue Wall on training wheels, but they need to get them off fast.

The running game was virtually non-existent as Miami filled the box and used twists and stunts to keep the pressure on Levis. Kentucky passed just 50 yards on 26 carries and certainly missed running back Chris Rodriguez, who missed the game for the start of a suspension that no one knows how long will last.

If Rodriguez is still ruled out on Saturday, it could clearly affect the outcome of the match.

Kentucky’s mental edge is good as the Cats are 2-2 in their last four meetings with the Gators. They know it’s not impossible to win at The Swamp because they did.

It’s hard to call a Game 2 a must-win, but it seems to be if the Cats are to meet their lofty expectations. The quality of the Cats remains a mystery, but there is definitely room for improvement and that improvement should come soon.

You can bet Florida has this game circled even though Kentucky hasn’t. A loss on Saturday would put the Cats back in the middle of the pack in the SEC East, wondering what could have been, while a victory keeps those dreams alive of November’s showdown at Kroger Field with Georgia for a shot at a championship. division.

Kentucky didn’t look like that kind of team in Week 1, while Georgia seemed quite the team capable of defending not only the SEC crown but also the national championship while devouring Oregon, 11th in the standings.

This week’s game, albeit early in the season, will be pivotal for Kentucky and Florida. Buckle up. It should be a good one.

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