Mark Story

Instant analysis: Who’s up, who’s down after Kentucky’s crushing 29-21 loss to Florida

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Game day: Kentucky vs. Florida

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Instant analysis from Kentucky’s 29-21 loss to No. 9 Florida:

How the game was won

Florida backup quarterback Kyle Trask engineered two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to rally the Gators from 21-10 down to victory.

Game balls

1. Kyle Trask. For the second straight time at Kroger Field, a Florida backup quarterback erased a UK fourth-quarter lead and pinned a demoralizing defeat on the Cats.

2. David Reese II. The Florida linebacker had 16 tackles, 13 solos, and led a determined Gators’ defensive effort.

3. Shawn Davis. The Florida safety had two interceptions that led to Gators points.

4. Sawyer Smith. In his first Kentucky start, the graduate transfer quarterback from Troy showed a live arm and made some impressive throws.

Reasons for worry

1. UK ball security. Sawyer Smith threw three interceptions (one a last-play Hail Mary pass) and lost a fumble, accounting for 16 Florida points. In high-level SEC games, turnovers are killers.

2. Chance Poore’s confidence. The UK redshirt freshman place-kicker will have to bounce back after missing a 35-yard field goal that would have put the Cats ahead 24-22 inside the game’s final minute.

3. The first half at Mississippi State. Because of a targeting penalty in Saturday night’s game, Kentucky will be without defensive starter T.J. Carter in the first half at Mississippi State. Yusuf Corker, who was ejected in the first half and missed the entire second half Saturday night, will not have to miss any of the next game.

Key numbers

Five and 14. With the loss to the No. 9 Gators, Kentucky is now 5-14 against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 during the Mark Stoops coaching era. After starting 0-8 vs. ranked foes in Stoops’ first two seasons, UK is 5-6 against Top 25 teams since.

Fashion police

For the third game of the 2019 season, Kentucky wore blue helmets, blue jerseys with white numbers and letters and blue pants. Entering Saturday night, UK had won its three previous games in all blue — over Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee State in 2018 and at Vanderbilt in 2017.

The Cat-mosphere

1. Past Kentucky quarterbacks Tim Couch, Andre Woodson and Stephen Johnson were in attendance. The three were photographed pregame with injured UK quarterback Terry Wilson — a photo that represented 55 Kentucky starting QB victories.

2. Woodson along with DeMarcus Cousins (men’s basketball), Henri Junghanel (rifle), A’dia Mathies (women’s basketball), Vic Nelson (cross country/track and field) and Don Weber (cross country/track and field) were recognized at halftime after being inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame Friday night.

3. Kentucky wide receiver Lynn Bowden wore No. 3 instead of his normal No. 1 in honor of injured UK QB Wilson.

4. UK track star Chloe Abbott performed a stirring rendition of the national anthem.

5. Triple Crown-winning Thoroughbred horse trainer Bob Baffert was on hand at Kroger Field.

6. The 2019-20 Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team was recognized during a break in play in the first half.

7. Kentucky announced a sellout crowd of 63,076. Since the venue now known as Kroger Field was renovated and downsized from a capacity of 66,000 to 61,000, Saturday night was the 12th time in 32 home games that UK has drawn in excess of 60,000 fans. Saturday’s crowd was the fifth-largest since the renovation in 2015.

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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.
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