Monday Morning Driskel: Florida Gators Thoughts After Win Over The Kentucky Wildcats

Another win, another new Florida Gators feature at The Bull Gator. The name is inspired by our quarterback Jeff Driskel and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, which discusses a plethora of topics concerning the week’s NFL games. We hope to do something similar, but on a minor, more pertinent-to-us level. Don’t worry, it won’t be nearly as long.

And another happy week in Gatorland.

This week, the Florida Gators continued their football domination of the Kentucky Wildcats, shutting them out. Will Muschamp’s squad rose to No. 11/12 in the AP and Coaches Polls. The big story was the extension of the Gators’ 26-and-counting win streak over the Wildcats, a probable reason for the Kentucky fans to continue to revert their focus back to the basketball season, which is quite a while from now.

What Happened

Jeff Driskel continued his balling: Sir Driskel could eventually be one of the best Gators to play at Florida by the time he graduates. As a true sophomore, JD looks better in Brent Pease’s system than Brantley looked in Charlie Weis’. Part of that has to be because of Driskel’s mobility. His ability to avoid the pass-rush and make plays deep down the field thus far has been Roethlisberger-esque, and right now, he is leading our football team.

The defense was, for the most part, dominant: Led by a surprise Jaylen Watkins pick six, the Gators’ defense forced three turnovers, all interceptions. All could pretty much be attributed to Morgan Newton’s erratic inaccuracy, which was really terrible, but we’ll still claim those turnovers. On a similar note, there were a lot of open Wildcats that Newton completely missed, which needs to be worked on. Other than that and some success for Kentucky in the run game, Florida’s defense did indeed look pretty dominant.

Kentucky as, same-old Kentucky: There’s a reason none of the players on Kentucky have been alive since the last Wildcat win over the Gators. Kentucky is back this year with their usual football mediocrity, and their cause wasn’t helped much by starting quarterback Maxwell Smith’s unavailability.

The game was secured early: The Gators led 24-0 at the half, and Jeff Driskel and other key starters started their rests in the fourth quarter. Mike Gillislee got his rest early, not playing after the first series in the second half.

Receivers are getting open: This can be largely attributed to Driskel’s ability to extend the play and give the receivers more time to get open, but there’s no doubt that this team is better than last year’s in the receiving corps. Sure, no player is averaging 100 yards-per-game, but a good number of the Florida receivers are chipping in with a few catches in each game. With 10 players targeted in Saturday’s game, speedster Andre Debose, who was largely nonexistent in all areas of the game, was the notable exception.

The defense is great in the fourth quarter: I put this up last week, and nothing changed this week, so I figured I’d put this up again.

More raving for Jeff Driskel: Driskel threw his first interception of the year on a terrible throw up into double-coverage in the end-zone, but give him loads of credit. He followed up his mistake with another game that showed his improvement. Another game note: his accuracy is amazing.

Ouch Video Of The Day

• Tight end Jordan Reed sandwiched: I really don’t know how Reed got up after this play, let alone held onto the ball. He came out of the play with a shoulder injury, but he appears to be fine.

This is also the play of the game, simply because I can’t find video of Jaylen Watkins’ interception and touchdown return.

Defense: Florida Gators 48 – Kentucky Wildcats 10

Part two of what plans to be a four-part series. Check out the offense here.


The first item that has to be mentioned is the difference from one week to the next is the number of penalties committed by the Florida defense. The Gators only had five penalties for 45 yards total against Kentucky, and not all of those five were on the defense. Let’s hope the improvement from the last game to this one wasn’t a fluke and we’ll continue to see an increase in discipline by Florida on the field.

I watch games in a variety of ways and take notes throughout using numerous methods. When with friends, those notes are usually mental and then remembered during replays of the games the following day. When watching at home, they are either kept via Twitter or my trusty yellow legal pad. Saturday night was one of those legal pad nights and a note that I kept making was something to the effect of “good pressure from the defensive line.” We can say Sharrif Floyd was the missing piece and we may be right. Since Floyd’s return against Tennessee, the Gators have gotten into their opponents’ backfields much more often. The pressure provided by the front four has allowed the linebackers to roam almost freely and not provide as much blitz support because it’s needed. They can now do so as an added dimension to the defense. This time around it wasn’t just the four we’ve been mentioning since early in the offseason. Against the Wildcats, we also saw Omar Hunter provide plenty of push from the middle of the line. It may have been Hunter’s best game in quite some time.

It wouldn’t be a complete, or any sort of linebacker play, recap for that matter without mentioning Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, but for just a moment let’s look at the player who is quickly, and no longer all that quietly, making a name for himself. During the 2006 season, Brandon Siler played his heart out and was the leader of the defense both on and off the field. Behind him, a player wearing no. 51 was “learning the business.” It was an apprenticeship of sorts as Brandon Spikes was able to learn the college game from a great and then turn himself into one of the best to play the position at Florida. This season, Bostic has made himself the defensive leader. With every game, he seems more sure of his ability and is becoming another in a great line of Gator linebackers. Both he and Jenkins are providing examples of what the young linebackers can grow into. Much like five seasons ago, behind them, a player wearing no. 51 is “learning the business.” That player is Michael Taylor and Saturday may have signaled his coming out party. Bostic led the Gators with 10 tackles and also added a tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and a sack. Taylor wasn’t far behind, finishing with six tackles, two tackles for loss, and an interception which showed very quick reaction time from the young linebacker. We may have another star in the making.

Some statistics jump out at you and make you think “wow.” This is one of them. Kentucky completed 22 passes on 44 attempts. Numbers like that would make you think a team totaled more than 165 passing yards. The Wildcats did not. The Gators’ secondary – which has been questionable at times – held the Wildcats to an average of 3.8 yards. They may have given up 22 completions – although that’s not a bad number considering the 44 attempts – but they didn’t allow many yards. The long of the night only went for 29 yards. The secondary is still trying to find which two individuals will round out the top four consistently, but they aren’t giving up the big play. Some of the younger players are giving up a lot of room off the line when in a cover zone defense, but the big play isn’t happening. Even on the 19-yard touchdown pass from Morgan Newton to La’Rod King, you could argue that King gave Moses Jenkins a shove before making the catch. The secondary has room to improve, but are actually playing better than many may believe. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a while before they play another quarterback any would consider in the upper echelon of NCAA passers.

Causing turnovers is always a good thing and Matt Elam was in on the party with an interception in a second consecutive game. Taylor added his pick and the Gators recovered two fumbles, including one resulting in a Jaye Howard touchdown. Florida also turned over the ball three times, but when you’re on the positive side of that statistics, it’s usually a very good thing.

Four games into the season the defense is allowing nine points per game. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take it. We all knew what the Gators were getting when Will Muschamp was named the new head coach and now we’re seeing it in action.

Next up: special teams.