Florida will bring talented playmakers to Kentucky this weekend


Feleipe Franks passes the ball during the Gators’ game against the Michigan Wolverines in the AdvoCare Classic on Saturday, September 2, 2017 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas / UAA Communications photo by Andrew Weber

The Wildcats will hope to go 4-0 for the first time since 2008 on Saturday, Sept. 23, as they’ll host an SEC rival Florida Gators at Kroger Field.

Florida is looking to grab their 31st consecutive win versus UK. Dating back to 1986, it’s the longest active winning streak over a major opponent in an annual series. UF leads the all-time series 50-17.

Both teams are coming off SEC victories, with Kentucky beating South Carolina 23-13 and Florida beating Tennessee 26-20. The Gators, however, will be entering Saturday’s game with a little extra confidence because of their dramatic Hail Mary win over the Vols this past weekend.

Standing at 6-foot-5-inches, Feleipe Franks, a redshirt freshman, threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee, including the emphatic game-winning Hail Mary, in just his second career start.

Expect multiple connections between Franks and wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, who currently leads the Gators’ offense with 149 yards and caught last weekend’s game-winning touchdown.

Along with Cleveland, look for Florida native Brandon Powell to add to the receiving game this Saturday, who is seeking his 17th consecutive game with a reception. Powell is 28 yards shy of 1,000 yards for his career.

Another key part of Florida’s offense is their experienced offensive line. Starters Martez Ivey, Brett Heggie, T.J. McCoy, Fred Johnson and Jawaan Taylor have combined for a total of 57 starts throughout their careers. They allowed for the Gators to rush for a season-best 196 yards against Tennessee.

Freshman running back Malik Davis benefitted the most from the offensive line, rushing for a career-high 94 yards, including a 72-yard run in their last game. Davis currently ranks sixth in the SEC for most yards gained from a true freshman.

Sophomore running back Lamical Perine expects to add to the team’s rushing depth. He is one of only 15 true freshmen in the country to post multiple 100-yard rushing games in 2016. Perine rushed for 55 yards on 11 carries against Tennessee.

As for the Gators’ defense, it always proves to be Florida’s strong suit. David Reese and Marco Wilson led the team in tackles versus Tennessee with seven each. Reese, along with defensive backs Duke Dawson and C.J. Henderson, contributed to the team’s pass defense by accounting for their third consecutive multi-interception game.

Nick Washington, a 6-foot, 198-pound defensive back, is Florida’s most experienced defender. In his 40 career games he’s earned 91 tackles.

The Cats will have their hands full as Florida has many playmakers who could cause trouble for the Cats at any given time.