Final: Kentucky 27, Florida 16

132
2540
Florida tight end Moral Stephens catches an 18-yard TD pass from Feleipe Franks in the second quarter against Kentucky. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

Live blog from Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the Kentucky-Florida game, the SEC opener for both schools:

First quarter

Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson completed a 29-yard scoring pass to receiver David Bouvier with 5:07 left in the first quarter to complete a 91-yard drive in nine plays. The Wildcats had runs of 14 yards by Benny Snell Jr. and 31 yards by Wilson to highlight the mark that took 4:33. Miles Butler converted that point-after kick.

Defensive back Brad Stewart bit badly on an out route and Kentucky takes the lead. Gator defenders seem to be out of position a lot on that drive. UF lost defensive back Marco Wilson earlier in the drive to a knee injury.

Pregame notes: Senior defensive lineman Cece Jefferson again had to sit out with a suspension for an academic issue that also kept him out of the opener last week, per UF. Still out injured are junior middle linebacker David Reese and defensive back Shawn Davis.

What went right: Florida was held scoreless, but the Gators consistently moved the ball thanks to some key third-down conversions by Feleipe Franks in the passing game and were on the UK 3-yard line when the quarter ended.

What went wrong: Let’s just put it this way, nothing went right for the Florida defense. On UK’s second offensive play, the Gators lost starting cornerback Marco Wilson to a knee injury of some sort. It went quickly downhill from there. The defense simply had no answer for dual-threat quarterback Terry Wilson, who burned the Gators with both his arm and his legs. He broke free for a 31-yard run after he found no one open downfield. A few plays later, on a second-and-16 from the UF 29, Wilson scrambled out of the pocket to his right and found a wide-open David Bouvier in the end zone for an easy touchdown to give the Wildcats and early, and stunning, 7-0 lead.

Play of the quarter: For the Gators, it was a 30-yard pass from Franks to running back Jordan Scarlett to convert a third-and-four. For UK, it was the TD toss by Wilson.

Trending: The Wildcats are clearly winning the line of scrimmage on offense, something that has the Florida defense off balance and searching. The UK defensive line is also controlling the UF offensive line in the running game.

— Robbie Andreu

Kentucky        7   

Florida            0   

__________________________________________

Second quarter

UF will had the ball on the UK 3 when the game resumed.

Beautiful throw by Franks down the middle to Scarlett that converts a third-and-four and puts the Gators on the UK 35. Franks then hit Van Jefferson for a 13-yard gain and he ran nine yards to the three. Franks was sacked and then Scarlett dropped a pass.

Evan McPherson nailed a 29-yard field goal to cut the UF deficit to 7-3. The kick capped an 11-play, 69-yard drive.

Franks completed an 18-yard TD pass to tight end Moral Stephens to put UF up 10-7 with 8:27 left in the quarter. The four-pay, 63-yard drive was aided by a facemask penalty on UK and a 16-yard pass from Franks to Kadarius Toney to the Wildcat 26.

UF stepped up defensively by forcing two turnovers on what appeared to be successful Kentucky drives.

Linebacker James Houston forced Wilson to fumble, with linebacker Jeremiah Moon recovering at the UF 30.

Then, after a 44-yard run by Snell, UF cornerback CJ Henderson intercepted a Wilson pass at the Gator 2-yard line just before the half. There’s a reason teams don’t throw at him often. His fifth career pick.

What went right: A lot went right for the Gators, who outscored the Wildcats 10-0 to take a 10-7 lead heading into halftime. Franks continued to have success in the passing game and hooked up with a wide-open Moral Stephens for an 18-yard touchdown pass that gave the Gators the lead. The TD got started with a 25-yard punt return by Freddie Swain. Also on the drive, Franks had a 16-yard completion to Kadarius Toney that put UF on the UK 26. Although the defense struggled throughout the quarter, the Gators pitched a shutout thanks to two UK turnovers by quarterback Terry Wilson — a fumble and an interception.

What went wrong: The Gators took a pretty good beating on both lines of scrimmage. UF could get no push in the running game, while the defensive front failed to get off blocks, which allowed the Wildcats to have success on both the ground and through the air, especially on the ground. The Gators started the quarter with a second-and-one from the UK 3, but Franks was sacked for a nine-yard loss, then Scarlett dropped a pass over the middle that might have gone for a touchdown and UF had to settle for the field goal.

Play of the quarter: sophomore cornerback CJ Henderson’s diving interception on the 2-yard with 32 seconds left that allowed the Gators to keep the lead going into halftime.

Trending: The Gators went into halftime knowing they needed to make some major adjustments on both lines of scrimmage. With UK spreading the field with three, four and five wide receivers, UF could not stack against the run, which was creating big openings for tailback Benny Snell Jr.

— Robbie Andreu

Kentucky        7    0

Florida            0   10

_________________________________________

Third quarter

Wilson continued to hurt the Gators on the ground, breaking free for a 24-yard scoring run to put UK up 14-10 at the 9:49 mark of the third quarter. The score capped a 10-play, 90-yard drive.

UK now has 314 yards of total offense and it’s still early in the third quarter. The ‘Cats are clearly outplaying the Gators in a big way.

This time, Wilson hurt the Gators with his passing. He had the time to complete a 54-yard TD pass to a streaking Lyn Bowden with 4:11 left in the third quarter.

To add to UF troubles, McPherson hit what appeared to be a 36-yard field goal, but it was called no good. Field goals are not reviewable.

What went right: Pretty much nothing, other than two major penalties against the UK defense late in the quarter. But that didn’t turn into anything good, either.

What went wrong: Pretty much everything. The Wildcats took control of the game by winning both lines of scrimmage in a big way. On defense, the Gators were helpless against the scrambling Wilson and the hard-running Snell. Even when it looked like the Gators had managed to put themselves in a good situation — a third-and-16 — they had to endure failure in the form of a 54-yard TD pass. On offense, the Gators could not run the ball and had problems protecting Franks. Thanks to those two penalties, the Gators had a chance to make it a one-score game with a 36-yard field goal attempt, but it was ruled no good (although it appeared to go through the uprights). The result was zero points.

Play of the quarter: Wilson’s 54-yard TD pass to Lynn Bowden on third-and-16 to give the Wildcats a 21-10 lead.

Trending: The Gators were struggling just to stay on the field with the Wildcats, who appeared to be wearing out the UF defense with the running game and Wilson’s ability to make plays with his legs.

Robbie Andreu

Kentucky        7    0    14

Florida            0   10     0

______________________________________

Fourth quarter

Florida cut the deficit to 21-16 on a 4-yard TD pass from Franks to Freddie Swain with 3:43 left in the game to cap a 15-play, 99-yard drive that took 5:14. The pass for the two-point conversion failed.

UK forced a fumble and returned 30 yards for the final points.

The Gators’ 31-game winning streak over the Wildcats is over. Kentucky hadn’t beaten Florida since 1986 and hadn’t won in Gainesville since 1979.

What went right: To the Gators credit, they picked themselves up off the ground late in the fourth quarter and actually made a game of it. Franks threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Swain with 3:43 to play to make it a one-score game.

What went wrong: The Gators’ couldn’t stop Snell when they had to, and on the two-point play after the TD, Franks failed to see a wide-open Malik Davis in the right corner of the end zone that would have drawn the Gators to within three.

Play of the quarter: An 18-yard pass from Franks to Lamical Perine on fourth-and-eight that kept the Gators TD drive alive.

Robbie Andreu

Kentucky      7     0    14    0  —  27

Florida          0   10      0    6  —  16

 

132 COMMENTS

  1. The O line is letting defenders run free at Franks. Can’t anyone block???? With second and 1 at the 2 why not run up the middle, instead we try a pass and Franks gets sacked. A complete mess.

    The defense needs to tackle the QB and RB. There have been so many missed tackles.

    • Agree, Doug. Also, makes no sense to me for OL to remain motionless in a live ball situation just because they know the defense was off-side. It puts your QB at risk and gives you virtually no chance to take advantage of a free play.

  2. Inexplicable. Kentucky should probably be up by 3 TDs, but the same Florida D that makes that a possibility has also saved the day twice. Grantham is out with the flu? If they don’t have an answer for this Kentucky crew, we’re going to be in for it later. I wanted to see the “old” Gator offense tonight, but this wasn’t the version I was hoping for….somewhere between Zook, Muschamp, and Mac is not what we had in mind.

    OK, that one is out of the way, it’s 10-7 Florida, let’s make the adjustments, stop doing our best imitation of mullets, and open up like we’re capable of doing! Go Gators! GIT’R DONE!

  3. Will be interesting to see if they let Benny Snell win the game for them or not. I think they might be able to give it to him every play and win.

    Hopefully after this era is over we return to the idea that we should hire gators as AD and perhaps coach. This will be the legacy of Fooley’s last few years making really bad decisions for football. I really hope they go for complete makeover after this experiment in a few years.

  4. Defense has played like crap, but this offensive line has to be the worst in history…on any level. Never in my life have I heard of 5 men that have as many starts in the sec as these Guys have and these guys can’t push any one around! The weakest offensive line!!

  5. I was going to say something about the lack of tackling and run defense but it’s already been said. I’m afraid someone like Georgia or LSU will rush for a thousand yards unless the defense shapes up. Other teams certainly doesn’t need to throw the ball.

  6. Think we’re finding out that no matter how good the staff, you can’t make tough out of soft in one spring/summer/preseason.

    Stoops has KY tough, It’ll take Mullen a year or so to teach these guys to be tough.

    No way around it.

  7. Well, this team has been exposed, the D line is being pushed off the ball, they arent stopping the run but half the time. Missed tackles all over the field, Franks when under pressure loses his accuracy, the o-line lets guys run free when UK are only rushing 4, our RB’s wont go north and south and we have no rushing game, and they just cant keep contain on a mobile QB! If we win this it will be a miracle! Dan Mullen the coach who lost the longest winning streak in NCAA Football. The way they are playing now they will lose to alot of teams, SC,GA,MsST, LSU are all better than UK! We have been misled. This defense is NOT an elite squad, the o-line is not improved and the QB loses accuracy under pressure. The only thing I see may improve is the QB, maybe! Right now he is less than 50%! This will be a LONGGGG season!

  8. People need to chill! It’s not the end of the world if we lose a game which has been a nail biter the last few years. This was going to be trap game all along especially after how the first game turned out. This rush to crown every Florida team a championship team before those kids can prove themselves is a cancer for every coach that comes in. Now, the same people are probably are the first to go all out negative when Florida faces adversity. If the writers are to follow, then it’s going to be extremely disappointing. Let’s rally behind this team instead of burying them at the first sign of failure. This Kentucky team is one of the best team Kentucky has fielded during the streak and we are in a rebuilding mode. The game is not over yet but most importantly the season is not over even if we lose. Let’s give this time to rebuild! They should be judge at the end of the season for the progress they made not at the start. Go Gators!!!

  9. I wonder how severe the injury to Marco Wilson is. It’s also obvious we need David Reese back healthy to plug the middle. Under 13:00 to go. Hopefully we can pull another rabbit out of a hat but give ky credit. They’re kicking our butt on both sides of the line

  10. Some people are gamers. Del Rio was the last gamer to play in the Swamp. I have yet to see anything showing me that Frank is a gamer other than that one pass to Cleveland. I’m not saying he can’t be the QB of the future but I’m hoping we get to see Trask and Jones at some point this season to see what they can do under pressure.

  11. S&C didn’t stop a mediocre team from pushing the Gators all night on both sides of the ball. Very disappointing to play like mullets, little to no sense of urgency, very sorry showing and now in a deep hole with SEC play resuming in 2 weeks.

    OK, sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield. Get over it. Get back on the horse and don’t play like this again, win or lose. We took one in the shorts tonight, that’s all that happened. We are the Gators and we’ll be back.

    • You ppl are idiots, it’s not the qb’s problem but the o line’s. If I was running for my life all night I’d probably give up as well. Thru the first 26 passes he had 15 completions and 6 drops but I guess he got tire of running for his life and went back to old form.

  12. Anemic offense? Used to seeing it. Poor run blocking? Used to seeing it. The defense was absolutely pathetic tonight, and Mullen’s clock management in the quarter was pee-wee league at best. A dumpster fire all around.

  13. So the ref’s stole our FG and stole our last play as Franks arm propelled the ball forward, so no fumble!
    So Mullen did something NOT EVEN MCELWAIN could do, he lost the longest current winning streak in NCAA football, thanks Coach for having your team soooo prepared that they lost to a cellar dweller in the SEC!

  14. We were 4-7 last year with a pretty sorry coaching staff. We have the coaches, we’re just not there yet. We need to get behind this team and the head coach right now. I know it doesn’t look good, but we’re not as good as we thought we were either. Yet. Go Gators!

    • 6, I appreciate your reasoned outlook, but I’m not sure about the coaching of an OL that, not once, but twice, remained motionless on a live play where the defense is off-side. That puts your QB at risk, almost certainly eliminates any chance for something big on a free play, and relegates the gain on the play to the five yard penalty. That’s what you expect to see from pee wee league players, not the OL of a team with a rich football tradition in a Power 5 conference. Furthermore, after watching the UGA, AL, and LSU O linemen push the pile and drag their running backs for extra yardage year after year, it’s depressing to see our guys disengage from their blocks and then stand around and watch. It seems there’s a distinct difference in philosophy, or if not, there’s a great disparity in being able to communicate that philosophy to the players.

      I may have made an earlier comment elsewhere on this site about Terry Wilson and a baloney sammich. Sadly, I think tonight’s result says more about the deficiency of the Gator DL than the proficiency of Wilson. Central Michigan made him look terrible in Lexington. The Gators couldn’t lay a hand on him in Gainesville! For now, I’ll continue to take my chances with the baloney sammich.

      I think you’ve already mentioned the lack of any evidence that the supposedly improved S&C program has made the Gators better. There was almost no push in the running game from the OL, the DL got very little pressure on Wilson, and they got pushed around in the running game.

      msgdew, I really don’t think KY is a lot better than everyone knew. In fact, I still don’t think they’re as good as everyone said they were coming into the season, and I think that will show when they play UGA and SC and possibly even UT. But, if I’m wrong, I’ll eat my baloney sammich and shut my mouth. Go Gators!

  15. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Horrible defense. Horrible tackling. Horrible defensive back coverage. Horrible offensive line play. Did I say they played horrible? This team got manhandled by a second rate SEC team. If this team plays like this the rest of the year they will not win another game. Franks did not play great, but he was not the problem. No heart. No fire. No grit. I can’t believe what I watched.

  16. Low point of Florida football program losing to Kentucky no matter how good you might believe Ky is, they barely beat Central Michigan. I just dont understand the slow methodical approach when your down 11, no changes made at halftime…sad, sad

  17. Mullen lost , yes! Considering it takes more than 2 games to rebuild Florida back to what it is supposed to be after 2 very pathetic HC’s. I’m as sick to my stomach as everyone of you are, I’m not going to blame Mullen for this game. Keep in mind, that PATHETIC offensive front wasn’t recruited by him nor the QB’s. Total waste of scholarships Imo!!!!!

  18. kentucky ends the streak on a pointless touchdown, but they should have won by a lot more anyway. still concerned about the coaching at linebacker given we seem to have set the all time record for missing tackles. for those that want a better qb than franks, I doubt there’s a better one on campus, few expected the offensive line to be this much of an issue before the year started.
    ok it may take a while, but there is reason to have confidence in the program. we have the fans, mostly good coaches that kept us in a game even if the performance is a bit of an issue. the bizarre field goal refs call, and one missed play at the extra point by franks, and the game goes to overtime. we have a couple of defenders coming back. Kentucky has a decent team. we know have film to look at. tough games ahead, but I still like where we are headed.

  19. Int the past, we relied on our defense to keep us in games. Tonight, giving up over 100 rushing yards to not one, but two KY players and two wide open passing touchdowns, shows that we have not yet hit rock bottom.

  20. Mr Roth, I beg to differ. Franks is absolutely the problem. The D was very bad, but only gave up 21. UF at home against UK should be able to score twice that easily. If the offense scores points, the UK is forced to do other things.

  21. A thorough beat down in all phases. I see zero improvement, including in strength and conditioning… and Franks is not the answer at QB. Did anyone catch some of Clemson vs. A&M game? That was serious football. Gators a long way from elite level. Anyone want tickets at half price?

  22. Frankly, Franks is the least of our problem. Where is the rushing attack. How come 5 guys can’t block 3. Good grief. I am so disappointed in our defensive line and tackling by all was atrocious. IMO Franks kept us in the game.

  23. Worse than the streak ending is losing a division game right off the bat. That pretty much eliminates us from any chance of a title. Why aren’t questionable calls on FGs reviewable? There are points on the line, for God’s sake! That kick was good. Tackling was horrible. How about the KY players doing soccer flops every time the Gators started getting some momentum? They took huge steps backwards from last week. Bottom line is the Gators deserved to lose and they did lose. All that excitement and anticipation built up over all these months just went up in smoke. I hope this doesn’t turn into another season of watching painful football.

  24. I said Mullen would have a great game plan. Wrong. Kentucky was better prepared. We saw the 1st year coach blues tonight. But Gator fans need to keep positive and keep faith in Coach Mullen and the players because recruiting is everything right now and fan support matters. It’s great to be a Florida Gator.

    • “recruiting is everything right now” . So true and with our win last week we got commitments, now we will lose them especially that Bama commit that was considering us. We wont get recruits and will lose some of those we already have , with this dumpster fire! Too bad,…. it makes me mad! Go Gators.

  25. OL hasn’t been a recruiting priority in a decade. Until we get that straightened out we’ll continue to be inept in the running game. And Todd Gratham is an atrocious DC. Blown coverages and pathetic tackling reigned supreme tonight. That’s on Grantham. I couldn’t stand him at UGA but at least we could beat him. We’ll be lucky to be bowl eligible at this rate. When CDM commented at half time that the OL was doing a fine job I resigned myself to the fact that this was going to be a very ling season. Living in denial is a horrible thing. What a frustrating way to spend a Saturday evening.

  26. Franks was not very good tonight (how did he not see Davis wide open on that two point attempt?). But the loss tonight is not on him. It is on the Gators front seven on defense. Slaton, Conliffe, Zuinga, and Polite are clearly very overrated. And the LB play is just horrible. Neither Jackson, Joseph, nor Johnson could tackle anyone or hold their gaps all night long. And Slaton and Conliffe got absolutely no push into the Kentucky backfield. And the safety play is also not very good. The corners played well, but Wilson may now be lost to the team. Very disappointed in the play of the team tonight, but I am getting used to it now. God, Mississippi State is going to run all over this team in a couple o of weeks. And Georgia may score eighty points on this defense when they play. Could be yet another very long football season for Gator Nation. When does basketball season start?

  27. Pete. Gardner-Johnson played a great game tonight. He and Henderson were the two only players on defense who showed up for this game. And Jackson clearly showed why he was a two star LB recruit tonight. He cannot tackle anyone. And neither can Joseph. And Slaton might now get 15 tackles all year, much less 15 sacks. Both he and Conliffe are nothing but stiffs on the DL. No push from them at all. Very disappointed in those two players after hearing about how good they were in preseason practice. But then again, they were practicing against the Florida OL. Hopefully, they will match up better vs. Colorado State.

  28. That QB and RB played solid games. Our QB, OL and defense did not. We are going to circle the drain until we get a QB. He cannot hit wide-open receivers wandering around in the end zone. Something very wrong there. Kentucky was clearly the better team tonight, though.

  29. A very poor football team, very poor play calling, worst defensive performance I believe I have ever seen at FL. The line couldn’t zone block my grandmother. They have no clue about the scheme. I believe the rebuild is going to take a number of years…

  30. OK, we now have confirmation of what we really knew, but wanted desperately to deny – Mullen has a job ahead of him rebuilding this team, and it is not going to happen in one season, and definitely not with these athletes(?). I mean, we KNEW that, but we hoped for much better, even after what we witnessed last season. At the very least, I hoped we might get “relentless effort.” The strength and conditioning program might have transformed bodies for Twitter pics, but it did nothing for physical and mental toughness. After watching most of the rest of the SEC this weekend, I am reminded just how far we have fallen. I did not see another SEC team that looked beatable by our team. They all looked bigger, faster, stronger, and more determined – even Vandy! I think we are looking at a 3 year timeline, and will need to be patient with Mullen and his crew to get this turned around.

  31. Lack of relentless effort, players not completing plays, I’ll call out Ivey, and others on line. While Frank’s made mistakes he wasn’t the biggest problem. Defense didn’t show effort as a unit. There were individual bright spots. Overall grade f. We’re not a bad team just going to take longer that I thought which is a reality check. This game was lost to missed assignments on defense and OL. Those two sacks that got to Franks are inexcusable. Over pursuit on rush game lost contain. Ugly game. Get it together Gators. You’re better than that.

  32. Kentucky has done a nice job in going into Ohio and getting players like Snell whom would have gone to Ohio State normally, but did not get an offer due to Meyer recruiting nationally. Kentucky was more talented, faster and stronger than Florida. Franks has improved, but not sure if he has it or not to be a strong Power 5 Quarterback. It looks right now that UCF and USF are the best two teams in the state of Florida.

  33. Congrats to UK, huge win for them in ending this streak. I thought this game was lost totally in the trenches. We were weak & couldn’t match their physicality. LBs talked more than they tackled. Slaton played well I thought. All our RBs need is a crease & they don’t get that. Maybe run wide more. Best group of receivers we’ve had in several years, I will say that on a positive note. I do hope the players will not give the other team bulletin board material any more. We need all the help we can get to have a decent season. UCF is definitely the best team in the state. Go Gators!