UK Football

How Kentucky and Florida match up

Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton hurled a pass off his back foot as he hurried to avoid Cardinals defensive end William Savoy in the end zone. The completion resulted in a first down.
Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton hurled a pass off his back foot as he hurried to avoid Cardinals defensive end William Savoy in the end zone. The completion resulted in a first down.

Quarterback

Morgan Newton was a bright spot in UK's loss to Louisville, throwing for a career-high 255 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. Much-maligned a year ago, Florida's John Brantley is fourth in the Southeastern Conference in passing yards a game (212.3) in his first year under the tutelage of QB guru Charlie Weis.

Advantage: Florida

Running back

CoShik Williams gave UK a late spark off the bench against Louisville. True freshman Josh Clemons leads Kentucky in rushing (193 yards). Florida's Chris Rainey torched Tennessee for 108 yards rushing and 104 yards receiving (plus he blocked a punt). Backup Jeff Demps and Cat-killer Trey Burton (six touchdowns vs. UK a season ago) are also capable.

Advantage: Florida

Wide receiver

Junior E.J. Fields caught the first seven passes of his career for 57 yards and a touchdown against U of L. He has earned the chance to be the wideout complement to La'Rod King (seven catches, 84 yards, a TD vs. U of L). Florida's two leading receivers are running backs. Senior Deonte Thompson (seven catches, four for first downs), sophomore Andre Debose (five receptions) and redshirt freshman Quinton Dunbar (five) lead the wideouts.

Advantage: Florida

Tight end

UK tight ends finally got on the receptions board when Nick Melillo caught three balls vs. Louisville and Tyler Robinson one. Florida starter Jordan Reed (four catches) is questionable because of a hamstring injury. Gerald Christian (two catches) backs up Reed and lines up as an H-back in some formations.

Advantage: Florida

Offensive line

Expected to be UK's strength, the Cats' veteran but injury-plagued offensive front has so far been a surprise weakness. The Cats have allowed 12 sacks after giving up only 19 all last season. Starting center Matt Smith returned to action against Louisville after missing the first two games with an injured ankle and is slated to start Saturday. Left tackle Xavier Nixon and left guard Dan Wenger (a Notre Dame transfer) lead a Florida line that has allowed only one sack all season.

Advantage: Florida

Defensive line

UK sophomore defensive tackle Donte Rumph (four tackles, a sack) played well against Louisville. Junior end Collins Ukwu (14 tackles for season) is questionable after a knee sprain. End Lerentee McCray (team-best 3.5 tackles for loss) and tackle Jaye Howard (four tackles vs. Tennessee) lead a Gators front that helped hold Tennessee to minus-9 yards rushing.

Advantage: Florida

Linebacker

Kentucky All-America candidate Danny Trevathan now has 12 games in a row with double-figure tackles and had his first sack of the season against U of L. Florida's Jelani Jenkins had six tackles, a sack, two pass breakups and a quarterback hurry against Tennessee.

Advantage: Even

Secondary

After picking off six passes in the first two games, UK had no picks against Louisville, and the Cards threw over the Cats for three touchdowns. Free safety Mikie Benton broke up a pass in the U of L end zone. True freshmen Marcus Roberson (cornerback) and De'Ante Saunders (safety) are both playing regularly for Florida.

Advantage: Florida

Special teams

Even after Louisville blocked a Ryan Tydlacka punt, UK leads the SEC in net punting (42.1 yards). Kentucky also leads the league in kickoff coverage. Florida place-kicker Caleb Sturgis is 9-for-9 on field goals including a school-record 51-yarder. The Gators have already blocked two kicks this season. UK fans don't need to be reminded of the damage Florida can do when its opponent lines up to punt.

Advantage: Florida

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