CRAWFORD | Swamp things: Three thoughts prior to UK-Florida
Eric Crawford is in the press box at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the campus of the University of Florida, with some quick pregame thoughts before the Wildcats and Gators kick off.
Saturday, September 13th 2014, 7:17 pm EDT by
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WDRB) -- It's 48 minutes to kickoff in the Swamp, and I'm comfortably behind my laptop here in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
I'm not going to lie. It's a great seat, in one of the great venues in college football. (See picture adjacent.) But it was a crazy trip getting here. Mike Lacett began with 5 a.m. wake-up calls in Louisville and got to our parking lot at 5:30 p.m. It was a bit of a travel adventure, that included being rerouted from Orlando to Jacksonville, a quick mall stop for Lacett to grab some sundries after his bag went on to Orlando, and a GPS-guided back-road trip (down Waldo Road) into Gainesville.
I highly recommend the Waldo Road route, by the way.
Now it's time for football. I thought, frankly, I was getting the more interesting of the games involving our state Power 5 conference members today. Perhaps I was wrong. But I might be right yet.
Five pregame thoughts.
1). GET BACK, JO JO.
The comments from UK running back JoJo Kemp really don't bother me (except for the rubbing of the noses bit, that was a bit much). I don't know if you've read this, but Florida has beaten UK 27 straight times. I know. Obscure stat. So it might twill be that Kemp is the ONLY guy in Lexington that feels a certain streak-ender is imminent.
Yes, Florida made a limited edition poster of Kemp's comments. Yes, if there were any chance UK might sneak up on the Gators, it's gone.
But no, it's not going to be the deciding factor in this game. Whether UK has closed the athletic gap with Florida will be the deciding factor. Several years back, I remember a UK loss here when the Wildcats had squandered opportunity after opportunity, and every head that ran off the field was looking at the ground, except for one.
That was Randall Cobb. He stared defeat straight in the eye and he was ticked off at it.
The effects of Kemp's comments on Florida aren't what I'll be watching. The effect of Kemp's comments on his teammates is what will interest me. I don't know if UK will win this game. But it's time for them to belong on the same field with Florida. When the game is over, we'll all know whether that was the case, regardless of what the score is.
2). HOW GOOD IS FLORIDA?
Frankly, I have no idea. Its opener was rained out. Last week it played a team that had no prayer. Maybe Florida is better. There's no doubt, it has a defensive front that is SEC caliber. What it can do on offense, whether it has the same kind of electricity in the kicking game, we have no idea. If you're Kentucky, you might as well go into the game figuring you're even, and see what happens.
3). DEPTH IS A CONCERN.
If you're looking for an X-and-O key, this is mine. UK's offense has to win time of possession. It has to keep Florida's defense on the field, not so much to wear down Gator defenders as to keep its own defense fresh. The heat is subsiding as the sun begins to set here in Gainesville, but it's still going to be humid and in the low 80s all night. One thing we've seen from Kentucky is that the fourth quarter can be problematic, even against lesser opponents.
The Wildcats have had their two warm-up acts. Tonight we get their first SEC progress report of the year. It's not a must-win. I expect them to win next time out against Vanderbilt. I expect them to get more competitive with each conference game of the season.
But it would be nice for Mark Stoops' players to establish a more advanced starting point than they have in past years, as they look to get serious about the task of ending some of the negative streaks on their resume.
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