Sunday, April 22, 2018
Colleges

No. 14 Florida Gators extend winning streak against Kentucky Wildcats to 26 games

GAINESVILLE — Coach Will Muschamp wants Florida fans to know that the Gators aren't anywhere near where they want to be by the time this season is over, but they certainly are very happy with where they are right now.

After a shaky start against Kentucky on Saturday, the No. 14 Gators put together a balanced offensive attack that culminated with 403 total yards and a defensive performance with three interceptions in a 38-0 victory in front of an announced 87,102 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

It was Florida's 26th consecutive victory over the Wildcats (1-3, 0-1 SEC), the longest active streak in the nation in a current series against a major conference opponent. It was the Gators' first SEC shutout since 52-0 over Mississippi State in 2001.

Florida is 4-0 for the third consecutive season (and 3-0 SEC), but the players and coaches said this undefeated has a much different feel from last season in which the Gators went 3-6 down the stretch.

"We are a better team," Muschamp said. "We are a more physical team on both lines of scrimmage. I think we're deeper and more mature and I think we handle things a lot better. We are a year older and more experienced and I think all of those things factor in when you're dealing with young guys. I think we are a more talented team than we were a year ago in some critical spots, but we have to continue to press forward because we are not where we want to be."

Early on, the Florida offense sputtered, going three-and-out on its first two possessions. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel seemed off his game throughout the first quarter, going 4-of-7 for 33 yards — 24 of those coming on one pass to senior receiver Frankie Hammond. But on Florida's third possession, Driskel's 38-yard run set up a 27-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis.

"That's definitely a play that we like, a little zone read," said Driskel who was 18-of-27 for 203 yards, one touchdown and one interception. "Hunter Joyer did a great job kicking out the backer which freed up the sideline. If I had more speed I probably could have scored."

Florida scored on two of its next three possessions and eventually took a 24-0 lead into halftime.

"Rick Minter (UK defensive coordinator) does a good job defensively and they had some new stuff and we had to adjust to it, which we did," Muschamp said.

Florida held Kentucky to 219 total yards — just 60 passing. The Gators held Kentucky to 21 yards in the third quarter and had three interceptions in the second quarter, with Jaylen Watkins returning one 26 yards for a touchdown. Kentucky was shut out for the first time since 2006.

"Turnovers are nice, but to get a goose egg on the scoreboard, I think that's better," said senior nose tackle Omar Hunter, who had eight tackles.

Kentucky used backup senior quarterback Morgan Newton in place of starter Maxwell Smith, who has a shoulder injury. Newton was 7-of-21 for 48 yards and three interceptions.

"I feel like our kids competed hard,'' Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. "We moved the ball offensively, but our turnovers didn't give us a chance field position-wise. … We just couldn't throw or catch. That's not how we've been playing the last couple of weeks."

The Gators, who entered the game ranked No. 13 in the SEC in third-down conversions, were 12-of-17 on third downs and converted four during a 15-play, 72-yard scoring drive that took 9:03 in the third quarter.

Florida next faces No. 2 LSU on Oct. 6 in Gainesville, a game that will show whether this 4-0 is really different from the past few seasons.

"It's definitely a little bit different this year," Driskel said. "We've played three SEC teams already and that's huge going 3-0 in the SEC to start the year. We're not done yet and we're going to keep working hard and keep playing hard."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Florida Gators defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will be out four months after having surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week, according to a report Wednesday evening from the Gainesville Sun.Jefferson, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound senior, injured th...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Tuesday evening's news that quarterback Jake Allen plans to transfer from the Florida Gators isn't a surprise.Allen, a former three-star recruit in 2017, was fourth on the depth chart. The St. Thomas Aquinas product didn't seem to fit new coach ...
Published: 04/18/18
Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

When former Wharton High star Auden Tate hears his name called sometime next week, he'll join a surprisingly small group.Recent Florida State receivers drafted into the NFL.Over the past decade, only two Seminoles receivers have been drafted: Rashad ...
Published: 04/18/18
Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Tallahassee police suspected Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois possessed marijuana with the intent to sell it when they executed a search warrant on his home last week, according to an affidavit.The case — which culminated Thursda...
Published: 04/17/18
Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Even as Florida State was finishing its first recruiting class under Willie Taggart, the Seminoles were already talking about what they could do in the new staff's first full cycle, for 2019."I can only imagine having a year here to be able to recrui...
Published: 04/17/18
Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

TALLAHASSEE – Florida State running back Khalan Laborn's breakout 140-yard output in Saturday night's spring game was a sign of what could be for the former blue-chip recruit.It was also a reminder of what almost wasn't for the Seminoles.With a...
Published: 04/16/18
New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

Steve Spurrier will make one of his first appearances in his new role with the Alliance of American Football tomorrow in Orlando.The league will welcome Spurrier as the coach of its Orlando team at an event at Ember (42 W Central Blvd.) at an event f...
Published: 04/16/18
Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

TALLAHASSEE – Judging by the crowd for Florida State's spring game on Saturday, Seminoles fans are excited about the dawn of the Willie Taggart era.The official attendance of 53,974 — a new record for a spring game — inclu...
Published: 04/14/18
Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

GAINESVILLE —It took some time, but the offense scored points in bunches, much to the delight of the 53,015 in attendance at Florida's spring game.And the Gators had fun doing it, pulling out all the stops with gadgets and celebrations that bro...
Published: 04/14/18
FSU quarterback Deondre Francois faces marijuana complaint

FSU quarterback Deondre Francois faces marijuana complaint

Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois agreed to a pre-arrest diversion program after police found 17 grams of a cannabis/tobacco blend in his bedroom Thursday afternoon.The Tallahassee Police Department previously received a report of drug activ...
Published: 04/13/18