Theater of Operations, Florida Vs. Kentucky: Reviewing The Gators' Defensive Performance

As expected, the Florida Gators defense dominated the Kentucky Wildcats' offense. But that isn't really saying all that much: As explained in our preview of the Kentucky offense last week, only a few teams have less proficient offenses in the whole of college football.

That being said, the Gators defense didn't quite play as well as I expected. Though they seemed to pick up the intensity as the game went on, the Gators surrendered 299 yards of offense and 16 first-downs. The defense did collect four turnovers, which was one more than they had created all season, which led to 24 points.

Matt Elam said it best:

"To win football games, you need to get turnovers,’’ Elam said. "He is eventually going to throw me the ball if I just stay patient. Quarterbacks always make mistakes, overthrowing balls, tipped balls, things like that.

I couldn't agree more.

Play No. 1: Ronald Powell and Jon Bostic team up for a first quarter sack:

Bospowsack_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Jon Bostic, coming from the linebacker position, and Ronald Powell, coming from the Buck position (this time standing near the line), team up to get the sack here. It is worth noting that this is more or less a coverage sack.

Bospowsack2_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Bostic, after holding for a second or two, now starts his rush. Meanwhile, Powell is now engaged with his blocker. This is where Morgan Newton begins to realize he is in trouble, as the downfield coverage by the Gators defense is fantastic.

Bospowsack3_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Bostic is now leaping up to try and defend against the pump fake, while Powell has beaten his blocker and has begun to tackle Newton.

Bospowsack4_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Dominique Easley is lying on the ground, Sharrif Floyd is still pushing, Jaye Howard is close, and Jelani Jenkins is about to swarm the pile as well. They have him at this point.

Bospowsack5_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Just a great all-out effort by the defense. The coverage was great. The pressure on the quarterback was great. Just a great play.

Play No. 2: Jon Bostic's sack, Jaye Howard's ensuing catch and touchdown:

Bosticblitz_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Jon Bostic is blitzing here, and nobody picks him up on Newton's blind side.

Bosticblitz2_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Almost there...

Bosticblitz3_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Bostic has hit Newton and the ball (circled in red) is up in the air. Jaye Howard is the defender at the Kentucky 5. He is ready to make a catch and scamper five yards to pay dirt.

Bosticblitz4_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Jaye Howard has his hands on the ball...

Bosticblitz5_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

...touchdown, Jaye Howard.

Play No. 3: Michael Taylor's interception:

Taylorint_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Because it is fourth down, the Gators are going to rush four and drop five players into coverage. That leaves only two linebackers in the middle of the field. Playing at the first down line is smart positioning.

Taylorint2_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

This is when the ball should have been thrown; luckily for the Gators, it wasn't when it was thrown. If the ball is thrown right now, it is a first down, providing the receiver catches it.

Taylorint3_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The throw is now in the air. Newton throws the ball late (surprising, due to the pressure), but he also either doesn't see Michael Taylor or he expected him to move. Which, uh, doesn't happen.

Taylorint4_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Look at the positioning: by the time Taylor makes the catch, the receiver is directly behind him. This is a horrible throw by Newton. Taylor also returns the ball 30 yards to the Kentucky forty-five yard line.

As stated above, the Gators didn't play as well as I expected them to. I don't think this defense played well enough to beat a top offense. But it didn't play a top offense, played more than well enough to dominate, and, perhaps most importantly, stayed healthy. With Alabama coming up, that is priority number one.

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