By LARRY VAUGHT
If Kentucky turns the ball over three times and mismanages the clock to cost itself another score like it did against Louisville, coach Rich Brooks knows his team wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t beat No. 1 Florida here Saturday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I would say if we make those kind of mistakes, you are lucky to win any game let alone against the No. 1 team in the nation,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Brooks Sunday. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We need to win the turnover-takeaway battle, not give up big plays, tackle better (to beat Florida). This was one of the poorest tackling performances we have had. We have to wrap up and break down and do things fundamentally that we should be doing and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Florida beat Tennessee 23-13 Saturday in a game that was much closer than expected. Florida beat Kentucky 63-5 last year. However, LSU trounced UK in 2006 and then the Cats beat the eventual national champion in 2007.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think unfortunately we have seen quite a few good teams the last several years,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks said when asked how good Florida looked. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The last three national champions were from our league, so that tells you what kind of people we are facing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Florida is the defending national champion. From what I have seen of it so far, TennesseeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense did a great job on their offense. They (Florida) are very epxlosive with great speed and outstanding defensive personnel with all 11 starters back.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Brooks said he doubts that TennesseeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defensive play will provide any long-term blueprint onÃ‚Â how to defend the Gators.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Once Florida looks at it , the blueprint will not be as good in the future. For a one-time game, they did as good a job slowing down and stopping that offense as any team in the league recently,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks said.
Brooks said the Cats gave up too many big plays against Louisville and that the safeties Ã¢â‚¬Å“busted readsÃ¢â‚¬Â on pass and run plays. He also was not happy with his teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s third-down defense as Louisville converted nine of 17 third-down plays.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our offensive line, I thought, the pass protection was outstanding,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The (three) turnovers are inexcusable. We canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do that. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not often you lose the turnover battle and win a football game against anybody.Ã¢â‚¬Â