In Dan Mullen’s first year as the head coach of the Florida Gators, there were several monumental moments. Although many of them were milestones of success, there is one that will forever be etched on the hearts and minds of Gator Nation. The Kentucky Wildcats, Who had lost a staggering thirty-one consecutive games to Florida, came into the Swamp and thoroughly manhandled the Gators.
Although it could be said that the game was much closer than the final score would indicate, the fact remains that Florida was dominated in the trenches, and the streak was over. Arguably the greatest running back in Kentucky’s history, Benny Snell Jr. gashed the Gators defense on his way to 175 yards rushing.
As much as the Gators struggled to contain Snell, they were equally ineffective in shutting down Kentucky quarterback, Terry Wilson Jr. Wilson completed 11/16 for just over 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but it was the threat of his legs that really hurt Florida, as they allowed him to pick up 105 yards on ten attempts.
Florida won’t face either of those weapons on Saturday night. Snell took his services to the NFL after the season’s end, and Wilson suffered a torn patella tendon last week, ending his season.
Although the Gators will be without playmakers, Kadarius Toney and CJ Henderson, themselves, neither of those losses will hurt Florida in the same way that Kentucky’s loss of Wilson will. The Gators still have an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions, while the Wildcats will be starting a quarterback that gets his indoctrination into the SEC versus one of the most lethal defensive fronts in the nation.
Through just two games, the Gators have recorded fifteen sacks and an incredible twenty-six tackles for loss. Expect Todd Grantham to employ a gameplan that keeps Troy transfer Sawyer Smith from ever being able to find his footing in the passing game.
The Gators offense has taken tremendous strides since their last meeting with Kentucky, but they will be challenged by a solid and experienced defensive line. The youthful offensive line of the Gators has proven capable in pass protection, but they are still very much a work in progress in the running game.
Feleipe Franks has been excellent, save for a late game interception against Miami, but for the Gators offense to reach its true potential, the rushing attack must be effective and consistent. That begins up front, and Dan Mullen challenged his offensive line to impose their will on their opponent, at halftime last week.
Last week, the 2019 Gators took a large step of improvement. This week, we will have a true litmus of where Dan Mullen’s Gators are in year two of his program. He admitted to not really having a good idea of who his playmakers were when these teams met last September. He now has a full grasp of his team, their strengths, and their weaknesses. The players now have a full understanding of what Mullen and his staff expect of them.
Florida enters the game as an 8-point favorite, and I like them to cover that spread. I believe the depth and talent of the skill players will be enough to overcome any deficiencies, and the Gators will be too much for Kentucky.
Florida travels to Lexington and begins a new streak, 32-24.
Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. EST on ESPN. Be sure to follow along with Chomp Talk’s coverage on our Twitter accounts, @ChompTalk, and on facebook.
Also, be sure to tune in to Own The Fourth Quarter! Hosted by Will Miles and myself, OTFQ is a new call-in show that airs during the fourth quarter of Florida Gators games. Look for the link on our Twitter accounts, @WillMilesSEC, and @MikeyPfeffer.