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Florida Football

Instant Analysis: The Comeback Kids

September 14, 2019
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Well, that was exhausting.

Despite struggling to open holes in the running game, getting torched on third downs defensively, turning the ball over twice, committing a slew of costly penalties and losing their starting quarterback to injury, the No. 9 Gators somehow found a way to defeat the Kentucky Wildcats (2-1, 0-1 SEC) 29-21 for the 32nd time in the last 33 years.

Here is our instant analysis of a wild – and possibly, season-changing – game in Lexington.

It Was Over When: In a twist nobody could’ve seen coming, Feleipe Franks’ serious leg/ankle injury ended up being the turning point in the game in a positive way for the Gators.

Backup Kyle Trask, in the most extensive action of his career, led the Gators to touchdown drives of 62 and 66 yards to turn a 21-10 deficit into a 22-21 lead. Running back Lamical Perine ended the first drive with an eight-yard score on a pitch from Trask on an option play. Trask ran it in from four yards out for what ended up being the winning points two drives later.

Kentucky’s offense responded by marching down to the UF 17-yard line with less than a minute remaining, but kicker Chance Poore missed a 35-yard field goal attempt wide right.

Receiver Josh Hammond finalized the score with a 76-yard score on a jet sweep. The Wildcats’ Hail Mary attempt was intercepted by Kaiir Elam.

They Stole the Show: The only logical place to start with this is Trask. The redshirt junior looked calm, comfortable and in control despite being thrusted into duty on short notice. He completed nine of 13 throws for 126 yards and had the go-ahead rushing score.

Van Jefferson caught seven passes for 93 yards and served as Trask’s go-to target. Freddie Swain made four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Despite getting exploited in coverage throughout the night, David Reese II was a monster in the middle of UF’s defense. He recorded 16 tackles, 13 of them solo. When UK needed to convert a key third-and-short, it seemed like Reese was always there to make the stop.

Safety Shawn Davis intercepted two passes and accumulated 70 return yards. Florida doesn’t win this game without him.

The Stats Don’t Lie: Despite being bottled up for most of the night, the Gators managed to average 5.1 yards-per-carry. A 76-yarder will do that for you.

Florida outgained Kentucky 300-268 through the air. Five players made multiple catches.

The Gators averaged 7.7 yards-per-play compared to UK’s 5.4.

After struggling on third downs against Miami three weeks ago, Florida converted four of eight third downs.

What A Play: It’s still very early in the season, but Hammond’s run has a chance to become the signature moment of the season, similar to Brad Stewart’s interception against LSU last season. Even though he probably should’ve fallen down at the one, he put an exclamation point on an improbable comeback win.

These Matchups Proved Key: While they struggled to generate much push in the running game, the offensive line conceded just one sack against an aggressive defense.

Florida had receivers running wide open throughout the night, particularly once UK started playing soft coverage when Trask entered the game.

In the unexpected battle of backup quarterbacks, Trask got the better of Sawyer Smith, who threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.

Up Next: The Gators (3-0, 1-0 SEC) return home to face the Tennessee Volunteers (1-2) next Saturday at noon. Florida will be looking to beat the Volunteers for the third straight year.

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Instant Analysis: The Comeback Kids

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