Saturday, September 26, 2009

Prediction Week 4

The two biggest questions this week are: Will Meyer open up the Florida offense this week and show some trust in some of his other playmakers? And, How will the flu, that now seems to have hit Tebow, Haden and Wright just prior to game time, affect the Gators performance this week against Kentucky?

The answer to the first question is yes. Sometimes Meyer gets “meyered” in his own “old school” conservative upbringing and the offense suffers. How many times in the past have we heard him say we have to consciously think to get the ball in this playmaker’s hands or throw to that receiver more? I think last week’s conservative game plan was not planned, but developed as the game unfolded.

The answer to the second question is impossible to predict: Who knows how sick these players really are?

Now, let’s talk match-ups.

Florida’s offense vs. Kentucky’s defense

This again will be the key match-up to determine whether this is a blowout or a close game. Kentucky has a highly touted defensive back in Trevard Linley, but that is where the similarity between their defense and Tennessee’s defense ends. Kentucky does not have the speed or talent on defense to contain Florida’s backs or handle Tebow’s runs. Plus, Florida coaches worked hard on getting freshmen receivers Omarius Hines, Frankie Hammond Jr., and T.J. Lawrence game ready this week by giving them the majority of snaps. The talk is they responded. I look for Hines to have a breakout game and Florida’s offense to sail.

Florida’s defense vs. Kentucky’s offense

Kentucky has a few weapons. All-purpose offensive threat Randall Cobb and the speedy Derrick Locke, who anchors a running-back-by-committee approach for the Wildcats, can score from anywhere on the field. But Florida’s defense may be the best in college football. They are two-deep across the board in quality players. What team could have an All-American linebacker the caliber of Spikes miss most of the game and have his back-up win SEC defensive honors for the week? Points will be at a minimum for Kentucky this week, though I think they are a little better than Tennessee on offense.

Special Teams

Both teams have special players returning kicks: Locke for Kentucky and Brandon James for Florida. Locke returned a kickoff 100 yards for a TD last week. The key though, is that Kentucky has allowed more big returns than Florida this, giving up a 65-yarder already this year, whereas the longest return against Florida has been 25 yards. Florida has the edge.

Streaks: Florida has beaten Kentucky 22 straight years and has won 13 straight ball games.
Playing No. 1: Kentucky has played a No. 1 team 11 times and won three of those games. The last one was a 43-37, 3-OT win over LSU in 2007. Kentucky has played Florida two other times when they were No. 1 and lost 65-0 in 1996 and 55-28 in 1997.
Last year: The Wildcats expected to play Florida tough last year, based on their overall steady improvement (re: OT win over LSU the previous year), but Florida crushed the Wildcats 63-5 in Gainesville.

Prediction: Florida, 48, Kentucky 10

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