Florida Football Three Keys: Kentucky


Florida football visits Kentucky on Saturday in Lexington. Here are your three keys to a Florida win over Kentucky.

By Matt Zemek

The Florida Gators’ 2019 season got off to a shaky start in general, but more specifically, it got off to a bad beginning in SEC action. Florida los at home to Kentucky and was playing catch-up in the SEC East race the whole season. This is a huge visit to Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington in Week 3. A loss here would destroy so much of the offseason optimism which flowed through the Florida program. Kentucky supplanted Florida as the SEC East’s second-best team last year. That cannot be allowed to happen. Florida has to plant the flag and make sure it is the foremost challenger to Kirby Smart’s juggernaut in Georgia. It’s showtime for a Gator team with a ton to prove.

Key 1 – Franks, Franks, Franks

Okay, here we go again. The Tennessee-Martin game was not going to prove anything decisive about Feleipe Franks’ identity or quality as Florida’s starting quarterback. Franks very rarely threw an incompletion, which is the good news. Florida’s offense needed a quarter and a half to score a touchdown at home against an FCS opponent, which is the bad news. Nothing from that game should be seen as a clear indicator of Franks’ readiness for a road night game against a tricky opponent which relies on defense to win games. This is a huge test of Franks’ ability to adjust to a good defense. It is also a huge test to see how much he has evolved from the Miami game, when he went up against a fast defense and clearly saw how limited he was in certain contexts.

Obviously, Dan Mullen shouldn’t have Franks rolling out to his left, where he struggles, but if Franks is flushed out of the pocket to his left and – on third and seven – he has to make a throw across his body to the left side of the field, can he make that play? This is what the two weeks of practice before the Tennessee-Martin game hopefully developed in Franks: better skills, better field awareness, better pocket presence, better accuracy, better EVERYTHING.

This is a game in which we will definitely find out if Feleipe Franks has significantly evolved. The Gators need to get the right answers if they want to achieve at a high level in 2019.

Key 2 – Tackling

Yes, the defense was excellent against Tennessee-Martin, but Tennessee-Martin isn’t Kentucky. Let’s see the defense make all the plays it is supposed to make, and then we will know for sure that the Florida defense is ready to chase championships and top-tier goals in 2019.

Key 3 – Sawyer Smith

Terry Wilson is out as Kentucky’s quarterback. Florida will not have as much film study on Sawyer Smith. Studying last week’s game against Eastern Michigan and forcing Smith to make high-level plays are the building blocks of a strong defensive outing against a different Kentucky quarterback.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 6:00 PM CT (7:00 PM ET). Watch on the ESPN Network.

This Week’s SEC Football News and Analysis

GameFirst Looks3 Keys
HighlightsFinal Stats
Kansas State vs. Mississippi StateKSUMSUPreviewKSU 31, MSU 24Stats
Colorado State vs. ArkansasCSUArkyPreviewArkansas 55, CSU 34Stats
Northwestern St vs. LSUNWSULSUPreviewLSU 65, NWSU 14Stats
Florida vs. KentuckyFLA / UKUK / FLAPreviewFlorida 29, UK 21Stats
Kent State vs. AuburnKent St.AuburnPreviewAuburn 55, Kent St. 16Stats
Alabama vs. South CarolinaUSC / BamaBama / USCPreviewBama 47, USC 23Stats
SE Missouri St vs. MissouriSEMOMizzouPreviewMizzou 50, SEMO 0Stats
Lamar vs. Texas A&MLamarTexas A&MPreviewTAMU 62, Lamar 3Stats
Arkansas St. vs. GeorgiaArk. StateUGAPreviewUGA 55, ASU 0Stats
Chattanooga vs. TennesseeUTCTennesseePreviewTennessee 45, UTC 0Stats
SE Louisiana vs. Ole MissSE LouisianaOle MissPreviewOle Miss 40, SELA 29Stats
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