UK Football

UK-Florida notes: Cats look for ways to cope with Gators' speed

Florida's Chris Rainey (1) ran for an 83-yard touchdown against Tennessee last week alongside Frankie Hammond (85) and Gerald Christian (32). Kentucky is wary of Florida's speed. "You've got to catch them before they get going," UK's Danny Trevathan said.
Florida's Chris Rainey (1) ran for an 83-yard touchdown against Tennessee last week alongside Frankie Hammond (85) and Gerald Christian (32). Kentucky is wary of Florida's speed. "You've got to catch them before they get going," UK's Danny Trevathan said. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Speed not only kills, but it can dominate how observers appraise a college football game.

Last week, Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips, his staff and his players repeatedly referenced Florida's speed as a factor that must be neutralized in Saturday night's game.

"All of us have heard the term 'speed kills,' " Phillips said at his more formal weekly news conference Monday. "... They've got the type of speed that can hurt you."

Apparently, Florida is fast on offense. Phillips noted the "world-class" speed of backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.

The Gators are also fast on defense and special teams, UK said.

Florida is so fast that even UK's offensive line coach, Mike Summers, noted the speed his players must deal with at the line of scrimmage. When asked whether Florida's defensive line relied on speed or overpowering force, Summers smiled and said, "They're big speed guys. Big speed guys who can run. We'll have to really play well."

Linebacker Ridge Wilson proclaimed Florida the fastest team in the Southeastern Conference.

When asked how to neutralize such speed, Wilson and UK suggested it would take muscle.

"You can't run with them," Wilson said. "You can't try to beat them with speed. (You must) try to make them play in a game that's not their style."

Kentucky would like a test of strength and pain endurance.

"They're fast," linebacker Ronnie Sneed said. "But they only have 52 yards from sideline to sideline to work with."

As boxing icon Joe Louis once said of a speedy opponent, Florida can run but it can't hide. At least, that's the idea.

"You've got to catch them before they get going," fellow linebacker Danny Trevathan said.

Florida's speed could not be simulated in practice, Phillips said before amending the comment. "Get a few cheetahs out there," he said. "A few hyenas."

U of L hangover?

Phillips repeatedly dismissed notions of Kentucky suffering a hangover from last weekend's loss to Louisville. Hangovers don't last a week, he noted.

But maybe the ache of a football loss lasts longer, Wilson said.

"No matter how the season goes, we're never supposed to lose to Louisville," the UK linebacker said. "That's something engraved into your head when you sign here."

Wilson, who attended Louisville's Central High, acknowledged the lasting effect.

"It's still stuck with me," he said at mid-week. "You can't go back and change time. But at the same time, it's a time you'll never forget."

Wilson said the Cats were not depressed. "We're still in shock," he said. "It let us know we've got a lot more to work on."

Help welcomed

If Florida wants to help fuel an upset, Kentucky surely wouldn't mind.

The Gators, who will be playing their first road game, were called for 16 penalties against Tennessee last week. Those calls cost Florida 150 yards.

In three games, Florida has been whistled for 34 penalties.

Longest streaks

Although it has lost 26 straight games to Tennessee and 24 to Florida, Kentucky has a long way to go to break the record for consecutive losses in a series played annually.

That distinction belongs to Navy, which lost 43 straight games to Notre Dame (1964 to 2006).

The second-longest streak is 36 Kansas losses to Nebraska (1969 to 2004).

'Rock' returns

UK figures to welcome back center Matt Smith.

"He's a real calming influence on that group," Summers said of the offensive linemen. "He's very adept at looking at the defenses and making calls. He did such a great job of that last year, being that rock inside."

Etc.

■ Since his freshman year of high school, Florida's Trey Burton wrote biblical verses on his eye black. Tim Tebow made that famous. But the NCAA banned the practice after Tebow's career ended.

■ Mark Jones, Ed Cunningham and sideline reporter Samantha Steele will call the game for ESPN.

■ Fans wishing to participate in the "Cat Walk," cheering the Wildcats when they enter the stadium Saturday, should gather near Gate 1 of Commonwealth Stadium by 4:45 p.m.

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