Tennessee Review / Kentucky Preview

Workmanlike effort……and get used to it.

That was pretty brutal to watch, as the Gators played a sloppy game against a high school-caliber offense from Tennessee, and the Volunteers drug Florida down to it’s ugly level.

It was basic football from the start to finish.  Obviously, the staff never felt threatened by Tennessee.  Coach Meyer is conservative to a large extent, and likes to run the ball and play field position. He’s said that many times, and I think many have forgotten it after last year’s fireworks. As long as the Gators have the lead, that’s what we can expect.

Coach Addazio hopefully mixes up the play-calling, and breaks tendencies as the season progresses (such as running the dive play so often on first down). Incorporating the RBs more often in the passing game could help loosen up the defense. There were some signs of doing this, but Tebow simply either didn’t recognize it, or threw the ball late too often. When he did hit Demps quickly and in rhythm, it was fun to watch.

Hopefully Deonte Thompson returns for L$U, because apparently the staff does not think there is a deep threat to stretch the field vertically without him. Not even one deep shot or jump ball to Cooper when he had single coverage.

This year’s defense is very good, but won’t be great until they improve against the run and get more 3-and-outs.  There were more missed tackles in that game since perhaps last year’s Ole Miss game, or quite possibly since 2007.  However, it did come out after the game that many players were battling the flu.  The tackling will be a point of emphasis for the defensive staff this week.

Well, at least the Vol fans (ever dwindling in number) can comfort themselves in that their Head Coach plays not to lose too badly, and didn’t even try to win the game.  We’ll see how long that plays as the season progresses and they get hammered by Georgia and Alabama, and possibly USCeast. 

Next up is Kentucky, and those guys had their pride stripped away last year and have a better offense than last year.  It’s the first road trip of the season, and perhaps the timing is good after all of the hand-wringing after the Tennessee game.  Most of the team and coaching staff is currently going through flu of various types, and it’s time to pull together and go get the win as a group through this adversity.

Kentucky will be primed after being completely embarrassed last year.  They come into this game off of a comeback win vs. Louisville that, while not pretty, showed them they could win despite some of their own mistakes, and it should give them some confidence.  Mike Hartline seems to have developed into a decent QB, and RB Derrick Locke is back after injury in 2008 to provide a home-run threat.  However, WR Randall Cobb is their most dangerous player, and is a big-time talent and playmaker.  The Gators have to win first down by stuffing the run and force the Wildcats into must-pass situations, where they are much less effective.  It will be interesting to see how much of the 3-3-5 look Coach Strong shows to try and confuse Hartline and throw off their short passing game.  It appears that Spikes will still be hobbled, but try and give it a go.  Personally, I hope he doesn’t start and isn’t needed.  Haden and Wright are also ill, and may only see limited time.  Fortunately, the Gators have depth at every defensive position and should be able to adapt.

On offense, I have to believe Florida still tries to pound the running game early and often, partly due to physical superiority, partly due to some unanswered quations at WR due to injury (DeonteThompson) and inexperience (Hines/Hammond/Lawrence).  With a week off coming, I won’t be surprised at all to see Tebow get at least 12-15 carries, especially if other teams start copying Tennessee’s defensive scheme of forcing Tebow to keep the ball on the option.  Cornerback Trevard Lindley and middle linebacker Micah Johnson are all-SEC candidiates for UK’s defense, but there is no way that their talent across the board approaches Tennessee’s, and I do expect some plays of 20+ yards from the Gators.  I’m still waiting on the staff to incorporate more passes to the RBs, and a healthier Aaron Hernandez will be a big boost against zone defenses.  Florida’s interior O-Line should have it’s way most of the evening.

With all the the crap in the media and from Lame Kiffen after last week’s game, along with the flu bug that has hit the Gators pretty hard, this is another week where Florida just needs to get the win, avoid serious injuries, and move on to the bigger games ahead.  Hopefully the weather is OK by gametime and the field is drying out after expected rain most of Friday and into Saturday.

Prediction – Florida 31      Kentucky 14