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SEC Network’s Tom Hart: “Kentucky absolutely has a chance to win this game.”

Can Kentucky celebrate a win over Florida Saturday? SEC Network’s Tom Hart says it could happen. (Vicky Graff Photo)


As SEC Network analyst Tom Hart watched Kentucky blow a fourth-quarter lead and lose to Florida for the 31st straight time last year at Kroger Field, a few words to describe the debacle where Kentucky twice left a Florida receiver uncovered at the line of scrimmage went through his mind.

“Mind boggling, heart breaking, gut punching,” said Hart.

He’ll be in Gainesville Saturday night calling the game again when UK hopes to end the nation’s longest consecutive losing streak to one team.

Yet he still remembers a scene from his plane ride back home after last year’s UK loss.

“The woman sitting behind us knew what we did. She told us she had been a season ticket holder for 30 years and said she was never going back,” Hart said. “She was dead serious. She was that upset. When you leave a guy uncovered not once but twice, have a key holding penalty to negate a run that put you in position for a winning field goal … Kentucky just did so many things wrong when it was in position to win.

“I’ve got to admit. I have not seen anything quite like leaving a guy uncovered not once but twice to give up two touchdowns.”

Hart told Kentucky coach Mark Stoops this week he admired the way he was able to get his team to regroup after that devastating loss. He admitted it was the toughest loss he had ever dealt with but he got them to come back and have a solid, if not good, season. You cannot over appreciate how difficult it is to take that kick to the gut and then meet with your kids and tell them they still need to believe in us (the coaching staff) and trust us.”

Kentucky is a 15-point underdog Saturday night and Hart can understand why UK fans might feel like the Cats will never beat the Gators.

“But Kentucky absolutely has a chance to win this game. Kentucky was the better team last year,” Hart said. “I called that game and the atmosphere at Commonwealth (now Kroger Field) was incredible. Maybe the best I have ever seen there. I’ve been there for a couple of big games, including South Carolina a few years ago, but the Kentucky fans were great that night.”

Florida had seven players suspended for its opening game and six more out with injuries. Florida coach Dan Mullen won’t reveal until sometime Saturday if all or any of the players will play against Kentucky.

“If they all return, obviously it’s a big difference in the Gators,” Hart said. “Kentucky is a talented, physical team. I think they have a great defensive team this year. Florida has great speed on the edge and the defensive line is pretty good. But I think Kentucky’s defensive guys up front have an opportunity to get to the quarterback. The Florida offensive line has not been what it has been. It will be interesting to see how aggressive (UK defensive coordinator) Matt House decides to be.”

Florida has questions at linebacker, so Hart — like a lot of Kentucky fans — looks for tight end C.J. Conrad to have a big game after making just three catches for nine yards in last week’s win.

“I think he’ll have a much bigger role in the game plan given Florida’s linebacker situation,” Hart said. “I know he’s a talented receiver who can create big mismatches. He can be valuable all over the field.”

Count Hart as a fan of former walk-on David Bouvier, UK’s starting receiver who had a touchdown catch last week. Hart said Bouvier reminds him of former NFL star Wesley Welker.

“What a great story David Bouvier is. Given his size and reliability, he’s so much like Wes Welker,” Hart said. “He catches everything that comes his way and who knows, maybe he’ll have another big game against Florida.”


  1. Hindsight is a cruel reality at times. That said, UK will never have had a better opportunity to beat the Gators than they had last year. Had they beat them then they would have been in a good spot to start a streak of their own. They blew it. This year the UK team has talent, but no experience at the QB position, a problem that seems to crop up every year at UK under Stoops. This weakness has to be placed at the feet of certain UK coaches IMO. Hoak has been in the system now for a long time, a 4 star recruit entering UK, and should have seen game action last year when Johnson was battling injuries in certain games. Now, Florida is a favorite to make it 32 straight at the swamp, even with possible player suspensions, and weaker Oline and LB’s as this article outlines. I hope UK can pull this off, but I have been saying that for 31 years now. It is time for Stoops and company to go out and get this done. It may be different teams and players every year, an explanation Stoops uses to downplay the Florida STREAK, but one thing is for sure, it is the same UK fans who have suffered through 31 straight.

  2. Florida could have their top 25 players suspended and the UK coaches would find a way to make it close or even lose the game.
    Hoak didn’t play last year so Stoops could build in his excuse for this year. No reason the kid didn’t take a single snap last year. Good programs usually grow their own QBs but Stoops has to go out scouting the JCs to find his every year or every other year.
    Also, the writer talks about CJ having a big game. We heard that from Stoops and Gran after every lose last year, about how they were going to make sure they got CJ more involved in the offense. Never happened. That’s the frustrating part. Both of the coaches say the right thing about what needs to happen, but then they never make it reality. They have more excuses than dogs have hair.

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