The Cats Look For Two In A Row Against Florida
Following two relatively easy wins, the Kentucky Wildcats start conference play on ESPN under the lights at 7:00 p.m. When they do a new man is going to be heading the offense. Can Sawyer Smith lead the Cats to a victory? Let’s find out as we begin previewing Florida at Kentucky.
Life Without Terry
During the third quarter of a 38-17 win over Eastern Michigan Terry Wilson was horse collared on a 19 yard run. After remaining down for a while he eventually had to be carted off the field. While many True Blue Fans remained hopeful, tests showed Wilson tore his left patellar tendon.
Following a season in which he helped lead the Cats to their best season in 41 years, Wilson was really coming into his own as a quarterback. In two games he completed 63 percent of his passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns. In addition Wilson had no turnovers, something that plagued him in 2018. Losing Wilson is a big loss, however Mark Stoops thinks they have they guy to fill the void.
Enter Troy graduate transfer Sawyer Smith. Back in May, the UK coaching staff convinced the junior to come to Lexington as an insurance policy for Wilson. A season ago playing for then-coach Neal Brown , Smith started the final seven games. He led the Trojans to a 5-2 record and Dollar General Bowl win after taking over for Kaleb Barker.
When pressed into service last week Smith threw for two touchdowns and 76 yards. His first attempt went for a 54 yard score to Ahmad Wagner. The staff feels like they can still use the entire play book and feel very confident with Smith at quarterback.
Scouting The Gators
Dan Mullen’s club comes into Saturday’s game ranked ninth in the country with a 2-0 record. They beat Miami 24-20 in week zero and dismantled Tennessee-Martin 45-0 last week. The offense is led by quarterback Feleipe Franks. The much maligned Franks has been very good so far in 2019 throwing for 524 yards and four touchdowns. In addition against UT-Martin he was nearly perfect completing 25 of 27 passes and a 201 quarterback rating.
Much like the Wildcats, Florida will be missing a couple of key players as well on Saturday. Wide receiver Kadarius Toney injured his left forearm and is out a couple of weeks. An even bigger loss is cornerback C.J. Henderson. The potential first round pick in next year’s NFL Draft sprained an ankle is officially listed as doubtful. While the Gators have a wealth of players across the board Henderson is arguably their best defensive player.
The Last Time They Met
After 31 years and losing in pretty much every way possible the Cats finally snapped “The Streak” winning 27-16. In addition, it was Kentucky’s first win in Gainesville since 1979. Overall the Gators hold a 51-18 lead in the all-time series that of course was much closer before the streak. The last time the Wildcats beat Florida in back to back years was 1976-1977. When Bear Bryant patrolled the Kentucky sidelines they won four straight against Florida from 1948-1951.
Who Wins On Saturday?
The injury to Wilson definitely hurts the Kentucky offense however they think Smith is going to do just fine. Look for Eddie Gran’s offense to run the ball behind A. J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke. The match up of the Kentucky offensive line versus the Florida defensive line is going to be fun to watch. In fact it could be one of the best of the season in the SEC.
Furthermore, with Henderson out look for Smith to throw downfield to Lynn Bowden and Ahmad Wagner especially if the run game is clicking. The six foot five former Iowa basketball player Wagner has become somewhat of a cult hero in Lexington. Not only does he have one touchdown on the season but he has forced defenders into pass interference penalties five times.
Speaking of Bowden, the school announced on Wednesday the junior is going to wear Wilson’s Number 3 on Saturday.
JUST IN: Lynn Bowden will wear Terry Wilson’s #3 jersey number this Saturday vs Florida.
Great to see Lynn honor his teammate, in one of the biggest games this season.
— Cats Coverage 😼 (@CatsCoverage_) September 11, 2019
Kentucky’s strong suit on defense is up front. Brad White as many as eight guys up front to rotate in and out in what looks to be a hot night in Lexington. Linebacker DeAndre Square has been a breakout player so far this season and the totally rebuilt secondary has performed well in the first two games. However Florida represents a big jump in competition. For the Cats to win they have to pressure Franks and keep Lamical Perine from having a big game.
A season ago Kentucky broke the longest current losing streak to one team in college football. You have to believe Florida wants revenge on Saturday. It’s hard to know how Smith is going to play against SEC competition and the Gator defense is one of the best in the nation.
This starts the toughest stretch of the year for Kentucky as they follow this contest by going to Mississippi State and South Carolina. While the case can be made for an upset look for the Gators to win a close one.
Thanks for previewing Florida at Kentucky with us here at Last Word On College Football. Have a prediction for the game? Leave it in the comment section below or post it on our twitter page. We will have a complete wrap up after the game and look ahead to Mississippi State.