LEXINGTON, Ky. — At the beginning of last week, Florida coach Will Muschamp said freshman CB Vernon Hargreaves had earned the right to be the starter. In fact, Muschamp said, he generally already considered the Wharton High alumnus among his starters.
On Saturday night, he had more than consideration.
Hargreaves earned his first career start in No. 20 Florida's 24-7 victory against Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium. And as he has been all season, he was a major factor.
Hargreaves had a leaping interception in the end zone late in the third quarter. It was his third interception in four games.
The Gators have an interception in seven straight games dating to last season.
BURTON vs. KENTUCKY: Florida senior WR Trey Burton has made a career out of playing against Kentucky.
Eight of his career touchdowns have come against the Wildcats — six in his freshman season. Burton's 9-yard touchdown catch during the second quarter was the 20th of his career.
A WARM WELCOME: Last year at this time, UF receivers coach Joker Phillips was the head coach at Kentucky. On Saturday, he returned to Lexington for the first time since he was fired last season and received a warm welcome. He met with several UK assistants at midfield before the game and exchanged hugs.
"I've still got love for Joker," Wildcats DE Alvin Dupree said. "Coach Phillips has still got a place in all our hearts as a team as well as a program. Everyone over here loves Coach Phillips."
"He wanted it bad," Burton said of Phillips. "I wouldn't say he wanted it more than any other game we played, but he had a lot of friends come through the hotel."
SHOWING HIS RESPECT: Florida sophomore DT Dante Fowler didn't travel with just his teammates on Friday. He brought along something special.
Fowler, a Lakewood High graduate, tweeted a picture of the "Chuckie" doll Gators DT Dominique Easley kept in his locker. Tuesday at practice, Easley, a senior, tore his ACL, ending his season.
He and Fowler are extremely close. On Monday, Fowler credited his success — including being named SEC defensive player of the week — to the lessons he has learned from Easley off the field and Easley's presence on it.
NOT AGAIN: For the second straight week, the Gators saw a potential big play stopped — by another Gator. Against Tennessee, DT Darious Cummings' interception return was cut short when Easley tripped him. On Saturday, sophomore RB Matt Jones was en route to what appeared to be a sure touchdown run when WR Quinton Dunbar — in an apparent attempt to block — pushed him down from behind. Jones ended up with a 67-yard run. Two plays later, the Gators took a 14-7 lead.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.