Q&A with Mark Stine, online sports editor for The Independent Florida Alligator


The Kentucky defense rushes off the line during the game against the University of Florida on Saturday, September 23, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky was defeated 28-27. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Kernel Sports Staff

The football season is young, but Kentucky is already facing one of its biggest opponents of the season this weekend in Gainesville.

On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the Cats will attempt to end its infamous losing streak to the Gators in the Swamp. Before the game, The Independent Florida Alligator’s online sports editor Mark Stine answered some questions provided by the Kernel Sports Staff on the SEC showdown.

Here is what Stine had to say.

There were many questions surrounding Florida heading into the season, but the Gators appeared to answer a lot of them with a solid season opener. Did you expect the Gators to perform the way they did?

Stine: I did expect UF to have an overwhelming victory, and for the Gators to give action to its backups, including quarterbacks Kyle Trask and Emory Jones. Charleston Southern could not matchup athletically when it faced off with Mississippi State in the 2017 opener (not even running an offensive play in MSU territory), and the same can be said against the Gators this year. An FCS opponent should never be a problem for a group for a team talented enough to play in the SEC.

Feleipe Franks was a notable standout with five first-half passing touchdowns. Do you think Franks can put together another marvelous performance like that against Kentucky’s experienced secondary?

Stine: I don’t think he can, but it won’t be due to any fault of his own. Coach Dan Mullen wanted to give Franks the opportunity to make many different plays and reads against CSU. He didn’t establish the run early and allowed his redshirt sophomore to sling it around the field for all of the first half’s touchdowns. This week, I think Florida’s committee of backs will receive the ball early and often, and Franks won’t have to make as many tough throws and reads because of that.

Kentucky’s offense was hit-and-miss in its opener the running game was fantastic, offensive line created opportunities while the passing game struggled. If nothing changes, how do you think Florida will counter Kentucky’s attack?

Stine: Florida’s going to put a lot of defenders in the box despite running a 3-4 scheme. I’d expect UF to keep contain with the BUCK linebackers Jachai Polite, CeCe Jefferson, Jeremiah Moon and bring the STAR linebacker, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, or a safety into the box.

Was there anything that you saw in Florida’s season opener that might give Kentucky any advantage?

Stine: If Kentucky can expose UF’s shallow depth at safety, it would be a nice advantage. If Gunnar Hoak can utilize the play action and suck up UF’s inexperienced safeties, then they’ll give the Gators a run for their money in The Swamp.

Florida has won the last 31 match-ups against Kentucky; do you think the Gators make it 32 on Saturday?

Stine: I’m going to say UF gets the win on Saturday, but I think it’ll be close. Florida’s offense won’t be as explosive as it was against Charleston Southern. And I think with Gunnar Hoak, Kentucky’s offense will run more smoothly. I think the Gators win by a touchdown, 27-20, and make the streak 32.