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Florida coach on Cats: “Nobody’s running the ball on them.”

Kentucky’s defense will challenge Florida Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Three weeks into the season, and there is Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State all 3-0. That has not happened since 2011 according to the SEC Network.

And get this — UK leads the SEC in defending the run, allowing just 57 yards on the ground per game. That could be really good news going into Saturday’s home game against Florida because the Gators are last in the league in total offense (286 yards per game) and only 12th in rushing (89.5 yards per game) after gaining 168 yards against Tennessee in last week’s dramatic win.

“It’s going to be tough for us,” UF offensive tackle Japan Taylor said Monday. “We’re just going to have to work hard in practice and prepare for Kentucky’s defense, which I know is a good defense. It’s going to be a challenge for our offensive line.”

Florida coach Jim McElwain certainly heaped praise on Kentucky even if the Wildcats have not beat the Gators since 1986.

“Nobody’s running the football on them. When you’re not running it, that makes you one-dimensional. So I think that’s a credit to what he (Mark Stoops) and his staff have been able to do. They’ve done some really good things there as a program emphasizing football,” McElwain said Monday.

Remember two years ago Florida barely beat UK 14-9 in Lexington. But last year the Gators dominated UK on the road and an early game hit is likely the reason quarterback Drew Barker ended up needing off-season back surgery.

“We do watch that because that’s very recent and you can’t make the same mistakes again,” Stoops said Monday. “So, obviously we will have to watch that game film, which again should be no problem with motivating us because we did not play very good.”

Stoops expects the UK fan base to be “energized” for Saturday night’s game and it could end up being a sold-out stadium.

“I know our team is looking forward to that and being back home and being in front of them. Again, we all take it serious to put out the best product we can for our fan base,” Stoops said. “They are a big piece of what we do and we need their support and they make a difference. Playing at South Carolina and playing in that environment, it makes a difference.”

3 comments

  1. TrueBlueJohn

    These are words that I never ever expected to read in an article. “And get this — UK leads the SEC in defending the run, allowing just 57 yards on the ground per game.” I expected the defense to be better this year, but not this much improvement. Hats off to Stoops and the new DC, they have done a tremendous job so far. The two 4th down stops were super, and they were flying to the ball.

  2. Norman Einstein

    Stoops has done a great job building this team. And he did it the right way… no gimmicks or quick fixes. We have an SEC FOOTBALL TEAM. It’s been a long time coming. I really think we will beat Florida Saturday night. Can’t wait.

    GO CATS !!!

  3. TheProfessor

    I was at the LSU game several years ago, and I believed UK would beat LSU that night, but I never believed the UK program had turned the critical corner it needed to turn to be truly competitive on a sustained basis in the SEC. The success was fragile, and therefore fleeting. In fact, the program was on downward trajectory before Joker took over, and he showed the way to the bottom very quickly from there.

    This time, I believe it is entirely different. I believe this program has turned that critical corner, did so last year culminating in that big win at Louisville. They have built upon that success moving into Stoops’ 5th year at UK. I believe this team/program is now competitive in the SEC East, and still on the rise. The defense is playing at SEC caliber, and so are special teams. The offense is lagging behind somewhat, but also getting stronger as it organizes it new offensive line, and finds the running game that can be on par with last season’s running game.

    Cats should beat Florida Saturday, but if for some reason, they don’t, I will continue to believe this program is in good hands, and moving in the right direction.

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