It was a massacre at the Swamp Saturday afternoon. Kentucky appeared to have the early advantage after a Luke Del Rio fumble was returned for a touchdown, only to have the play overturned. That would end up being the only bright spot for the Wildcats, as the Gators rolled to a 45-7 win.
Outside of this being Florida’s 30th consecutive victory in the series, here are three things we learned:
1. Florida has a chance with Luke Del Rio and Eddie Pineiro: The combination of quarterback and kicker is not often aligned in the same sentence. In the case of the Florida program however, there is some significance in the two over the past few seasons. It’s no secret that Florida has struggled mightily at the quarterback position since the departure of Tim Tebow. Will Grier had all of the makings of being the quarterback who could finally buck the trend. Unfortunately for the Gator faithful, Grier was suspended by the NCAA for one yaer for PED use after a 7-0 start in 2015. Led by Treon Harris, the Gators struggled down the stretch and were back to square one at the start of spring practice.
Conversely, Florida has had issues with their kickers. The combo of an unreliable signal-caller aligned with a non-existent kicking game ended far too many Gator drives without points.
Fortunately, the solution to each problem looks to be solved. Del Rio seems to have confidence in not only his knowledge of the offense, but his ability to throw the football downfield as seen in the 78-yard touchdown to Antonio Callaway. The Gators redshirt junior signal-caller threw for 320 yards, along with four touchdowns and an interception. I loved how Doug Nussmeier moved Del Rio around and allowed him to sit in the pocket when necessary. Del Rio has found a good rapport with his receivers, particularly Callaway and Brandon Powell, which should bode well for the rest of the SEC season.
Despite missing a few long kicks today, freshman kicker Eddy Pineiro showed that he gives Jim McElwain and his team an opportunity of getting points when drives stall. That’s a clear improvement from last season.
2. Florida defensive line is one to be feared: Florida’s defense has represented very few question marks over the last decade. That seems to be the same this year, particularly along the defensive line. Redshirt junior end Jordan Sherit had himself a day, collecting a pair of sacks with five tackles. CeCe Jefferson has looked the part so far this season, as he lived in the Kentucky backfield all day, alongside Bryan Cox Jr. and Joey Ivie. If DC Geoff Collins’ continues to get this type of production up front to go along with the strong play in the secondary, it’s going to be hard to see a scenario where the Gators aren’t in the SEC East race come November.
3. Mark Stoops is in trouble: Things are going to get pretty ugly in Lexington for Mark Stoops if things don’t turn around soon for the Wildcats. Kentucky seemed to have found a quality quarterback and rhythm in their offense after a 35-10 start versus Southern Miss.
From that point, the Wildcats have been outscored 79-7.
And to update that stat: Kentucky has been outscored 58-0 since the final minute of the first half last week.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_AJC) September 10, 2016
Updated: Kentucky has been outscored 65-0 since the final minute of the first half last week. More remarkable that it ever led 35-10.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_AJC) September 10, 2016
My wife just asked me, "Is there a mercy rule?" Florida leads UK 38-0 in the third. Cats outscored 72-0 since final minute of 1H last week.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_AJC) September 10, 2016
Update: Kentucky has been outscored 79-0 since the final minute of the first half last week. Back to this column ...— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_AJC) September 10, 2016
The score doesn’t even tell the whole story. The ‘Cats have looked to have no fight or pulse since the first half versus the Golden Eagles. One would think having lost 29 years straight to a rival and playing close the past two seasons, that Kentucky would show more fight than they did today.
Apparently I’m the only one who felt that way.
The Wildcats appear to have a pretty manageable schedule, hosting New Mexico State and South Carolina ahead of their trip to Tuscaloosa, but even those aren’t gimmes after watching the last six quarters of play. It’s only Week 2, but it’s hard to find something to be positive about in regards to Stoops and his program.
He’s recruited well, but at the end of the day wins and losses are more important than four and five stars. I had confidence in this Kentucky programs chance of improving and getting to a bowl this season. Now, I feel foolish for ever believing in them.