University of Florida

Florida Gators refuse to be overconfident as they prepare for Kentucky

Florida running back Brandon Powell (15) gets past Eastern Michigan linebacker Nathan Adams, right, on his way to a 12-yard touchdown run during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014.
Florida running back Brandon Powell (15) gets past Eastern Michigan linebacker Nathan Adams, right, on his way to a 12-yard touchdown run during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. AP

Florida is fresh off its finest offensive performance since Tim Tebow was a senior — 655 yards, the 10th-most in school history — and has beaten Kentucky 27 times in a row.

The Gators (1-0) enter Saturday night’s matchup as 18-point favorites, but UF is doing its best to remain grounded.

“We put on a good show, and that was something to applaud, but this is SEC ball now, and we know the level of competition definitely steps up and takes another jump,” senior offensive tackle Chaz Green said.

“We can’t look at that as a way to feel too confident and take this team lightly because they’re a very good team.”

Kentucky (2-0) has lost the past six meetings by an average of 36.5 points, yet Mark Stoops’ team is an improved group and has already equaled last year’s win total.

The Gators travel to Alabama next weekend, but they’re not treating the Wildcats as a simple dress rehearsal — especially following some back-and-forth trash talk this week.

“We’re really excited to get into the meat of our schedule,” Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel said.

“Obviously, Kentucky is in the [Eastern Division], and that’s a big game for us. We want to win every East game like every other game. It’s one we need. To have a good year, we’ll have to win this game. We’ll do everything in our power to do so.”

The Gators’ offense aims to keep its foot on the gas pedal, not satisfied with a single breakout performance.

“You truly try to make it a day-to-day process,” said Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper on avoiding complacency.

“You truly just want to go compete each day to get better. And if you look at it that way, if you just take it one day at a time, and yes in a lot of ways that is coach-speak, but the reason we hammer that in is if we can get those guys to buy into it and believe in it, then there is no roller-coaster ride.

“If you look beyond more than one day, then I think you’re getting off track. And you know I think one of the things that’s out there, maybe Chip Kelly started it or Oregon started it, they talked about, ‘Win the day.’ That’s just another way of saying it.

“You know it’s all semantics, but if you can focus on each day at a time then you don’t get outside of what you really need to be concentrating on.”

Florida coach Will Muschamp said the Gators’ series dominance against Kentucky doesn’t mean anything this year.

He just wants a conference victory.

“This is the 2014 Florida team vs. the 2014 Kentucky team. I don’t know that any of those games in the history will [matter] on Saturday night,” Muschamp said.

“But there’s no doubt that we need to end that [five-game SEC losing] streak.”

With six ranked teams — No.3 Alabama, No.10 LSU, No.6 Georgia, No.20 Missouri, No.24 South Carolina and No.1 Florida State — remaining on the schedule, the Gators know they must take care of business against a lesser foe.

“We know that it’s always good at the beginning when you start out putting up big performances, but things get tough down the road,” Green said.

“It’s a long season; it can definitely change.”

  Comments