Florida trying to extend streak against Kentucky
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida has a lopsided victory in the books and a measuring-stick matchup on the horizon.
So playing Kentucky could be a trap game for the Gators.
Florida (1-0) has won 27 in a row against the Wildcats, the longest active streak in an uninterrupted series in major college football. The Gators haven't lost to Kentucky since 1986 and haven't dropped a home game in the series since 1979.
Since no current Florida player has experienced losing to Kentucky - not even during last season's 4-8 debacle - the Gators seemingly have reason to overlook the Wildcats heading into Saturday night's Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Throw in that Florida might still be basking in last week's 65-0 drubbing of Eastern Michigan and has a road trip to Alabama up next, and it might be the perfect time for Kentucky (2-0) to pull a shocker.
The Gators insist it won't happen.
Kentucky running back Jojo Kemp may have helped keep the Gators focused.
Kemp predicted a victory in The Swamp,'' telling the Louisville Courier-Journal this week that ''it's going to be fun walking out with a victory and rubbing it in their faces.''
His words quickly made their way to Gainesville, where linebacker Michael Taylor responded on Twitter by posting ''oh jo-joooooo'' and following up with ''what number is this ja ja fool???''
Taylor later told reporters Kemp's comments provided little extra incentive for the game.
''After the season we had last year, there's no extra motivation needed,'' Taylor said. ''This whole summer, hearing all that stuff and seeing the results of last year, no extra motivation is needed.''
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops was ''outraged'' and spoke to Kemp, who grew up in DeLand.
''It's not very smart to try to challenge their pride before you play them,'' said Stoops, who was an assistant coach at Miami and recruited the Sunshine State. ''Believe me, I know them. So I don't think that was very smart. It's not something that I teach. It's not how we talk. And really if you listen to his whole conversation he was quite humble and really handled himself the right way until the end.
''But again, that's just not very smart on our part and we'll get that fixed.''
Here are some things to what for when Florida hosts Kentucky on Saturday:
LOSING STREAK: Kentucky isn't the only team with a losing streak in this game. Florida has dropped five in a row in SEC play. The Gators won their first three conference games last year before losing the rest in the program's first losing season since 1979. Florida's last league win was Oct. 5 against Arkansas. ''Just getting a win again to start fresh, we're ready now,'' defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. said. ''It just makes us even more hungrier to get another `W.'''
VERSATILE TOWLES: Kentucky sophomore QB Patrick Towles has completed 61 percent of his passes for 547 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, through two games. He also has rushed 25 times for 89 yards, including 22 carries last week against Ohio. While Towles' footwork has helped the offense, Stoops doesn't want his QB having a run-first mentality, especially against Florida. ''I'm not sure that will be a good idea,'' Stoops said. ''He can run and will run. But I don't think any of us are looking for that many (carries) every week.''
OFFENSE SHINES: No doubt, Florida's offense was impressive in the opener. A few numbers really tell the story: the Gators scored seven offensive touchdowns; they had 25 in 2013. They rolled up 655 yards, more than double what they averaged last season. They managed 17 first downs in the first half; they averaged 17.8 a game in 2013. They ran 86 plays, nearly 20 more than they averaged last year.
O-LINE SHUFFLE: Florida will be without left tackle D.J. Humphries for at least two games because of bone chips in his ankle and a high-ankle sprain. Right tackle Chaz Green will take Humphries' spot, and Rod Johnson will fill in at right tackle. Green and Johnson should get a tough test from Kentucky's defensive ends, Alvin Dupree and Za'Darius Smith. ''We've got our work cut out for us,'' Green said.
BURTON BROTHERS: Former Florida quarterback/receiver/tight end Trey Burton scored six touchdowns against Kentucky as a freshman in 2010. His little brother, Clay, would love to find similar success against the Wildcats. Clay Burton caught seven passes for 42 yards in the opener and will continue getting a heavy load following Jake McGee's season-ending injury.