UF's Murphy poised under pressure
Published: Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 10:31 p.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Before every game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 4:
1. In his first start, will Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy show the same poise and composure he did last week against Tennessee?
He did. The only difference this time is he did it right from the start, after kind of feeling his way through the first few drives taking over for Jeff Driskel a week ago. Murphy was on his game from the opening drive and throughout the first half. He completed his first 11 passes, threw a touchdown pass and ran for a TD in helping the Gators take a 21-7 halftime lead. Murphy made one obvious mistake, a pass that was intercepted in the flat in the third quarter. But UK came away with no points following the turnover.
2. The Gators have recorded only four sacks this season. Will UF be able to get to UK quarterbacks Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow?
The defense doubled its season total with five sacks, two by Dante Fowler Jr. The Gators kept just enough pressure on the two quarterbacks to keep them from feeling comfortable in the pocket. When it was obvious the 'Cats were going to pass in the fourth quarter, the Gators got pressure rushing four — and got to Smith twice.
3. The Florida offense will see a lot of eight-man defensive fronts tonight. Can the Gators hit some big plays in the passing game to open up things in the running game?
It was obvious from the start that the Gators knew UK was going to focus on the run first. UF’s offense came out and threw some early passes and established a great balance between the run and the pass on the opening TD drive. That balance kept the Wildcats from selling out against the run, and created opportunities for the offense.
4. Will the Florida defense, ranked No. 2 nationally, hold a potent UK offense to less than 350 yards?
The Wildcats didn’t even come close to 350. When the game was on the line in the first half, the defense gave up only 124 yards of total offense and pitched a shutout, the only UK score coming on a fake field goal. UF gave up some yards in the second half, with many of them coming with the Gators leading 24-7 in the fourth quarter. For the game, UK was held to 173 yards, another sterling performance by the defense.
5. The Gators did not handle adversity well on the road in a loss to Miami. Can they handle it Saturday?
Florida was tested early — and passed the test, responding with two touchdown drives after giving up a TD on a fake field goal in the first quarter. And the Gators were tested late in the third quarter — and passed the test again. Only moments after the Wildcats returned an interception to the UF 37, true freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III intercepted a pass in the end zone to steal back the momentum. Overall, the Gators responded favorably to the adversity every time it showed up.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.