Florida's defense is 8th in passing defense, 25th in rushing defense, and 16th in scoring defense. The defense also has 12 takeaways, which is tied with Ohio State and Troy for the most in the nation.
But who have the Gators played? Miami-Ohio is 2-1, but is 84th in scoring and 109th in total offense. USF is 1-1, with their win against FCS Stony Brook. Tennessee's offensive numbers are inflated by dropping 50 on Tennessee-Martin. Of the three teams, neither had a legit quarterback, which allowed UF to put the minimum in coverage. The Gators have been able to get by with stacking the box, leading to being 25th in rush defense while rebuilding the front seven.
Ahmad Black and Janoris Jenkins deserve a lot of the credit for being able to control the secondary and give the Gators the ability to only put defensive backs in coverage. Jenkins has not been challenged this season, while Black continues to impress. Will Hill missed two games, and probably should not have played against Tennessee considering how unimpressive he was. But he has to look over his shoulder at Matt Elam, who has made a significant play in each game, despite the usual freshman growing pains. At the other corner, Jeremy Brown struggled, but looks to be getting healthy and quicker in filling in for Moses Jenkins.
Kentucky hasn't played anyone yet (Louisville, Western Kentucky, Akron), but quarterback Mike Hartline is 8th in efficiency nationally. They are averaging 255 yards passing per game. Last season, WR Randall Cobb caught five against UF but for only 24 yards. The Gators will need to do the same again on Saturday.
For the front seven, the Gators are still a work in progress. Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins are the real deal, and it is becoming apparent that UF might be better off running a 3-4 to have them both on the field. A.J. Jones is still serviceable and valuable for his maturity, as is Brandon Hicks, who Urban Meyer has been impressed with. On the line, Duke Lemmens and Justin Trattou will follow no push on the line with a sack. Against Tennessee, their pressure exposed the Vols to interior pressure as Florida's tackles were able to get in the backfield and disrupt the Vols running attack. William Green, Omar Hunter and Sharrif Floyd did not register tackles, but they absorbed the line, which frees up the backers to make plays. Ronald Powell also showed flashes of brilliance as Bizzaro Danny Wuereffel.
The front seven needs to continue their growth against Kentucky's Derrick Locke. Last season, Locke rushed for 36 against the Gators. Through three games this season, the senior has 372 rushing yards and 60 receiving yards. He won't be UK's only option, but the Wildcats would be smart to stick with their running game. We saw what happened when Tennessee put the ball in Matt Simms hands. UK should have no problem pounding UF's front seven to soften them up.
Kentucky will probably go to a bowl game this season, but they are the appetizer before the Alabama game. With the talent UK has, it will be a nice test to see how good the Gators are ahead of playing a complete team in Tuscaloosa. If the Gators are successful, maybe this defense is good.