Saturday, October 25, 2008

Florida 63, Kentucky 5 (LE)

At one point this fall, it looked like Jeff Demps might go to Beijing as part of the US Olympic Team's 100-meter dash team. That would have made it very difficult, probably impossible, for him to play as a freshman this season. At the time, I wrote on another board that it wouldn't be a huge loss. Sure, Demps was frighteningly fast, and it would be nice to have him as an occasional bolt of lightning. But considering his size (5'7, well below 200 pounds) and inexperience, and considering UF's stable of running backs (Emmanuel Moody, Kestahn Moore, Chris Rainey, Mon Williams), he wasn't a crucial part of the 2008 team.


Demps had yet another fantastic game, this time gaining 50 yards on seven carries and leading the Gators in receiving in their unholy rout of Kentucky. Demps picked up 67 yards on four catches, and broke a long touchdown after catching a five yard crossing route on third down.

There are a couple things worth noting here. First, this Kentucky team isn't particularly bad. They're not as good as the Andre Woodson teams of the last couple years, but they've got better talent than those post-Hal Mumme probationary squads. On the other hand, most of that reasonable talent was injured. Dicky Lyons Jr. and Derrick Locke are out for the season, and the Wildcats are down to second and third string linebackers at all three positions. So a win on Homecoming was never really in doubt.

What is in doubt is Kentucky special teams coach Steve Ortmayer's job. The Gators blocked three kicks, including two punts on back-to-back drives that led to quick touchdowns. Florida jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and never came even remotely close to being challenged.

Once again Tim Tebow didn't put up huge numbers (he was 11 of 15 for 180 yards, and gained 48 yards on nine carries), but he did pick up four touchdowns- two rushing, two passing. The TD pass to Percy Harvin to end the first quarter scoring was particularly impressive; Tebow had a defender hanging on his right shoulder pad and threw a perfect strike to Harvin for a 33-yard touchdown.

The Gators managed to find some offensive balance for the third straight game. Harvin had just the one catch and ran the ball twice. Demps had seven carries, Tebow nine, Moore eight, Rainey seven. Demps caught four passes, Louis Murphy two, and Harvin, Rainey, Moore, Carl Moore, David Nelson, Deonte Thompson and Brandon James added one apiece. The offensive line didn't allow any sacks and opened up big holes for the running game., it wasn't much of a challenge. Kentucky had no offensive playmakers with Locke and Lyons out, and their QB play was uninspired. (Though I do like Randall Cobb, a lefty who came in after starting QB Mike Hartline struggled) Again, however, Florida couldn't generate much of a pass rush. They picked up one sack, split between Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Spikes.

Kentucky just played the role of sparring partner for a Florida team that has Georgia on its mind. The Gators should be as healthy as an SEC team has a right to expect at this point in the season. Harvin's ankles seem to be as strong as they're ever going to get. Linebacker Dustin Doe's hale and healthy for the first time since the Mississippi loss. Tebow's not uniquely sore for a starting quarterback. Janoris Jenkins did bruise his knee, and he's a huge part of Florida's revamped secondary, but there's no reason to suspect he'll miss next week's game.

Look for a preview of The Game Formerly Known As The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party next week.

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