Instant analysis: Florida 38, Kentucky 0
September, 22, 2012
By Michael DiRocco | ESPN.com
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida extended its winning streak over Kentucky to 26 games in relatively easy fashion Saturday -- which is pretty much standard in the series between the Southeastern Conference teams.
The 14th-ranked Gators (4-0, 3-0 SEC) intercepted three passes and recorded their first shutout in SEC play since a 52-0 rout of Mississippi State in 2001. UF also got a touchdown pass and a touchdown run from quarterback Jeff Driskel.
Kentucky (1-3, 0-1 SEC) struggled offensively without starting quarterback Maxwell Smith, who entered the game as the league's leading passer (322.0 yards per game). Smith sat out with a shoulder injury, which he suffered in last week's loss to Western Kentucky. Morgan Newton started in his place and completed just 7 of 21 passes for 48 yards.
It was over when: Florida CB Jaylen Watkins intercepted a Newton pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown with 8:24 remaining in the first half. That put the Gators ahead 17-0 and was part of a 21-point second quarter.
Game ball goes to: Driskel. The sophomore was a little wild and did throw his first interception of the season, but he also completed 18 of 27 passes for 203 yards and ran seven times for 43 yards. The 27 pass attempts were a career high.
Stat of the game: Kentucky WR La'Rod King entered the game leading the SEC in receptions per game (7.7) after 23 catches in the first three games. He caught just three passes for 13 yards. Teammate Aaron Boyd was averaging 6.0 catches per game. He didn't have a catch.
Second guessing: Kentucky coach Joker Phillips elected to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the UF 33-yard line on the Wildcats' first possession. Newton's pass was incomplete, and the Gators took over. Yet when faced with a fourth-and-3 at the UF 29-yard line trailing 17-0 and badly in need of some momentum in the second quarter, Phillips called on kicker Craig McIntosh to try a 46-yard field goal. McIntosh missed.
What it means for Florida: The Gators enter their bye week with a 4-0 record and a chance to heal up some key injured players (RB/FB Trey Burton, LB Jelani Jenkins, RT Chaz Green) before an Oct. 6 game against LSU.
What it means for Kentucky: The heat will get turned up on Phillips, whose only victory this season came against Kent State. Phillips is 4-13 in SEC play since taking over for Rich Brooks.