My name is Joseph Morgan, and I'll be breaking down each of the 2008 Florida Gators' opponents and making predictions game by game.
Please feel free to give your input and make your opinions known throughout the series. I am happy to discuss the games.
Game Seven vs. Kentucky, Oct. 25
Info: The Kentucky Wildcats started the 2007 season on a tear. Led by quarterback Andre Woodson, the Wildcats averaged 46.6 points per game in five straight victories, including an upset of No. 9 Louisville in Lexington.
Although the Wildcats lost five of their final eight games, they played good football, knocking off national champion LSU 43-37 in overtime and defeating Florida State 35-28 in the Music City Bowl.
Offseason: Kentucky's offseason saw their offense suffer a setback in the loss of Woodson and other key players.
Kentucky returns the majority of a very prolific offense from a year ago, but the dismissal of junior quarterback Curtis Pulley from the team by head coach Rich Brooks will cause the offense to lose a step.
In addition, Kentucky lost 1,000-yard rusher Rafael Little as well as leading receivers Steve Johnson and Keenan Burton, who combined for 1,799 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns.
2008 Outlook: Senior Dicky Lyons will be the favorite target in Kentucky's passing game in 2008. Lyons has hauled in 1,477 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns over the last two seasons and will look to add to his numbers this fall.
As for Woodson's replacement at quarterback, sophomore Mike Hartline will be the starting signal caller after fellow quarterback Pulley was dismissed from the team.
Although the passing game won't be as efficient, Kentucky's ground game should be solid. Although the loss of Little will hurt, the Wildcats bring back Derrick Locke and Tony Dixon.
The dynamic duo of Locke and Dixon amassed 933 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in 2007. They should improve on those numbers with additional carries throughout the 2008 season.
Kentucky’s brightest spot may be their defensive line. The unit returns three of its four starters, including Jeremy Jarmon, who tallied a team-high nine sacks in 2007.
Game Prediction: Florida 38, Kentucky 17
Although the Gators will come out flat after a bye week, they should be able to alternate a few deep passes into a solid running game.
I believe that if Florida can build a significant lead early enough, Urban Meyer will rest the majority of his playmakers for the following week’s matchup with rival Georgia.
The Florida tailbacks, led by speedster Chris Rainey, should win the battle up front with Kentucky’s formidable front four.
Meyer will open up the run game and keep the defense on its heels with option plays, reverses, and bubble screens to Percy Harvin, Emmanuel Moody, Rainey, and others.
The Wildcats will cause trouble for the Gators early, but Florida will pull away in the third quarter and remain undefeated.
The Gators are now 7-0 and headed into a rivalry clash with No. 1 Georgia. Can Florida avenge their loss to the hated Bulldogs and erase the memory of “the Celebration?” Stay tuned!