Cats crushed by Gators again, 38-0



Another year, another loss to the Florida Gators.

The UK football team lost to its SEC East rival for the 26th year in a row, dropping the 2012 meeting in Gainesville by a final score of 38-0. The loss drops UK’s record on the season to 1-3, and opens the team’s conference schedule with an embarrassing loss.

The Cats looked crisp in the first quarter, racking up 88 yards of total offense and holding Florida to just three points on a Caleb Sturgis field goal. UK had been outscored 94-3 by Florida in the first quarter of their last four matchups entering Saturday’s action.

Unfortunately for UK, football is a four-quarter game. The Cats would only manage 131 total yards in the final three quarters of the game, bringing the grand total to 219, while allowing Florida to gain 403 yards of total offense.

With starting quarterback Maxwell Smith out with a shoulder injury, senior and former starter Morgan Newton stepped in to fill his spot. It was an unwelcoming return to the lineup for Newton, who finished the game 8-23 passing for 60 yards, no touchdowns, and three first-half interceptions.

After Smith’s four interceptions to Western Kentucky a week ago, Saturday marked UK’s first back-to-back three-interception games since 1997.

UK’s running game had somewhat of a renaissance against Florida, rushing for 159 of UK’s 219 yards on just 32 carries, an average of five yards per carry. But UK’s newfound ground game was rendered meaningless by a non-existent passing offense and a large deficit for most of the game.

Kicker Craig McIntosh, who has had problems of his own this year on special teams, missed two first-half field goals, adding insult to injury in what would end up being a shutout for the Florida defense.

But the story of the game was Newton and head coach Joker Phillips. As the defense held the Gator offense in check for much of the first half, and the ground game began to establish itself for the first time all season, Newton routinely missed wide-open receivers running simple, underneath routes. Fans began to clamor for freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow to take over the offense, but Whitlow did not see the field until UK was trailing 31-0 in the fourth quarter.

For a coach whose seat couldn’t conceivably get any hotter, mismanagement of the offense in what was still a close game at the time did him no favors with the fan base.

The road does not get any easier for a UK football program in total disarray. UK will face two more ranked opponents in the next two weeks, beginning with a home meeting against the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks next week.