UK Football

How Kentucky and Florida match up

Matchups

QUARTERBACKS

What else needs to be said about Tim Tebow, one of the greatest college football players of all time who could conceivably leave Florida with three national championships and two Heisman Trophies?

Kentucky's Mike Hartline has made strides in his second year as a starter but needs to avoid the turnovers that plagued the team in the third quarter against Louisville.

Advantage: Florida

RUNNING BACKS

Both teams have smaller speed backs capable of taking it the distance. All that Florida backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps need is a crease to turn out a 70- or 80-yarder.

UK's Derrick Locke and Alfonso Smith have big-play capability, as well.

Advantage: Florida

RECEIVERS

The Gators are a bit beat up at receiver but still have proven commodities in seniors Riley Cooper and David Nelson and sophomore Deonte Thompson.

Sophomore Randall Cobb looks like the real deal for Kentucky, and Chris Matthews is still learning the ropes after transferring from junior college.

Advantage: Florida

OFFENSIVE LINE

Florida is huge up front — all five starters are 6-foot-5 or better and go well over 300 pounds, led by twins Mike and Maurkice Pouncey. The Gators' front excels in pass protection and run blocking in Urban Meyer's spread attack.

The Kentucky line has followed up a year during which it led the Southeastern Conference in fewest sacks allowed by not allowing a sack in the first two games, but this will be its first major test of the 2009 season.

Advantage: Florida

DEFENSIVE LINE

Florida has a pair of bookends on the edge in Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham, but the Gators are not quite as stout at tackle.

UK's front four is still a work in progress, although junior defensive end DeQuin Evans did show signs of breaking out with two sacks against Louisville.

Advantage: Florida

LINEBACKERS

The Gators have perhaps the country's best middle linebacker in senior Brandon Spikes, but he might be less than 100 percent with an Achilles' tendon injury.

UK senior Micah Johnson is also on most lists as one of the country's top middle linebackers.

Advantage: Florida

SECONDARY

The Florida secondary is deep, talented and experienced, led by junior corner Joe Haden and junior safety Ahmad Black, who had a 40-yard interception-return TD against UK last year.

The Kentucky secondary, regarded as perhaps the team's biggest strength, will look to rebound from a somewhat disappointing performance against Louisville.

Advantage: Even

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Florida special teams dominated UK last year thanks to two blocked punts, and kick returner Brandon James also poses big problems. Florida scores so many touchdowns and punts so rarely that neither punter Chas Henry nor kickers Jonathan Phillips and Caleb Sturgis have gotten a lot of work.

The Cats also have game-turning return guys in Derrick Locke, Alfonso Smith and Randall Cobb and need kicker Lones Seiber and punter Ryan Tydlacka to be on top of their games.

Advantage: Florida

Chip Cosby

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