Florida vs. Kentucky Week 4 Preview: 3 Reasons Gators Chomp Wildcats
The Florida Gators travel to Lexington on Saturday for what will be an easy romp over the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium in Week 4. The 7 p.m. kickoff showcases the SEC East matchup on ESPN.
Both teams face each other after playing an archrival last Saturday. Kentucky lost to their in-state rivals the Louisville Cardinals, 24-17 in the Governor’s Cup, while Florida beat the Tennessee Volunteers 33-23 at "the Swamp."
Will Muschamp and his staff have the Gators moving in the right direction as they head into the heart of their SEC schedule. Saturday’s game provides their first road test of the season as the Gators look to continue climbing the polls.
Here are three reasons they’ll pass with flying colors.
1. Chris Rainey
Chris Rainey has been one of the cornerstones for the Gators offense since his arrival in Gainesville. The senior running back already has two 100-yard rushing games under his belt within the first three weeks of the 2011 season.
Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis untapped Rainey’s potential in his new offense during last week’s win versus the Tennessee Volunteers. Rainey rushed for 108 yards and recorded 104 receiving yards in the victory.
Rainey became the fourth Gator in history to rush for and catch over 100 yards from the line of scrimmage last Saturday. His historical day earned Rainey the Offensive Player of the Week award for Week 3.
The Kentucky Wildcats defense will have their hands full with the speedy running back. Last week Kentucky allowed 181 yards rushing in their loss to the Louisville Cardinals, who did not boast the quality of talent in the backfield as Florida will on Saturday.
If the Gators can get Rainey going early, it could be a very, very long night on the gridiron for the Wildcats. All signs point towards that taking place under the lights in Lexington.
2. Early Lead
When the Florida Gators head up to Lexington for their Saturday night contest with the Kentucky Wildcats, they will look to silence the home crowd.
The best way to shut up 60,000 screaming fans is to drive down the field on your first possession and punch it in.
That’s exactly what the Gators will look to do: take the air out of the crowd. Florida scored within the first five minutes of the first quarter last Saturday versus the Tennessee Volunteers, allowing them to play with an early lead.
On the road, the importance of scoring early increases and can have a profound effect on a team’s confidence. The Gators will look to jump-start their early season leader in Chris Rainey with touches early on in hopes they can sustain a long drive and milk some time off the clock.
Expect Charlie Weis and the Gators offense to open the playbook a little bit Saturday night in the first quarter. Grabbing a lead and letting the defense pin their ears back will help the Gators come away with a victory on the road in the SEC.
3. Alabama Tuneup
Several of you may disagree with this, but that’s okay. The Gators travel to Lexington in anticipation of the Alabama Crimson Tide traveling to Gainesville the following week.
Florida hosts Alabama in what has been one of the better rivalries in the past few seasons. Charlie Weis and his offense will need to be on point versus the stout Alabama defense if they want to come away with a victory.
There’s never an easy game in the SEC, but there certainly are easier games than others. Case in point, the Kentucky Wildcats have historically been a program—much like Vanderbilt—against whom the top dogs of the SEC can breathe a little bit.
Will Muschamp certainly will not let his team nor his coaching staff think or even mention their matchup with the Crimson Tide, but you know it’s in the back of their minds. A season-defining game versus the No. 3 team in the nation looming in the near future will help the Gators dial in their anticipation on Saturday night.
Gator Nation needs to see a thorough beating of the Wildcats on Saturday night to feel confident about their showdown the following week. Muschamp will have his guys ready to go as they look to send a statement addressed to Tuscaloosa that they're ready.