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UK season preview: Florida has “lot of talented players” back

David Bouvier (33) got lifted in the air by teammate Dorian Baker after his TD catch at Florida in UK’s win last season. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Editor’s note: This is the third of a 12-part series on each of Kentucky 12 opponents this season. 

LAST YEAR: Kentucky broke a 31-game losing streak to the Gators with a 27-16 victory a year ago in Gainesville.

COACH: Dan Mullen, second season. Record at school: 10-3. Overall, 79-49.

LOOKING BACK: Mullen guided the Gators a 10-win season in his first year at Florida. Mullen won six of his first seven games before suffering back-to-back defeats to Georgia and Missouri, respectively. It was then Florida caught fire and won its last four games. The stack of wins included victories over instate rival Florida State in the regular-season finale, followed by a 41-15 rout of Michigan in the Peach Bowl. Florida scored 35 points or more in its last four games of the season.

I think we took great strides in our first year in the program,” Mullen said. “You know, when you look in year one, you get a ten-win season, you finished ranked sixth in the country in the final polls, it was really exciting. It showed how fast our guys bought in to what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to build. And we have a great group of guys coming back, a lot of talented players coming back on this year’s team that now have won games and have high expectations and understand what the Gator standard is all about. It’s about competing for championships every single year. And the positive attitude we have is really exciting.”

LOOKING AHEAD: The Gators aren’t lacking when it comes to offensive playmakers. Quarterback Feleipe Franks returns for his junior season after throwing for 2.457 yards and 24 touchdowns last year. Also back Florida are wide receivers Van Jefferson, Kadarrius Toney and Trevon Grimes. Jefferson caught 35 passes for 503 yards and six touchdowns. Another top returnee is running back Lamical Perine, who gained 826 yards and scored seven touchdowns last season. Mullen’s toughest task during the off-season was keeping defensive coordinator Todd Grantham in the fold. Grantham’s defense forced five turnovers and collected 10 sacks against Florida State and Michigan to close out the season. Defensive back CJ Henderson and defensive end Jabari Zuniga anchor the defense, mostly centered around a 3-4 scheme. Florida opens the season against Miami to open the 150th season of college football on Saturday.

CONFERENCE: The Gators are a preseason pick to finish second behind Georgia in the SEC East. 

COACH QUOTE: We need to take a huge step forward for us this year,” Mullen said. “I think we had a lot of success last year, but our consistency of performance is something I want to see us change to perform at a high level every single game, every single week, every single play, the consistency of our performance to continue to improve.”

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  1. Florida won’t be assuming that our game is a guaranteed win this year…even though it pretty much is…as will be Georgia, Auburn, and Tennessee. That means we have to win 6 of the remaining 8 to be bowl eligible. Teams like Missouri, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt are going to be looking for revenge. Assuming that we win the rest of the schedule, which is no guarantee…we will need to win at least 1, maybe 2 of these 3 to go bowling. Given that we have a very inexperienced secondary that will be tested every game and Eddy Gran running the offense…a Music City Bowl invite would be a huge accomplishment for Stoops and this team. A second win in Nashville this year would be a fantastic building block for the 2020 season. Good luck Coach Stoops, you have your work cut out for you.

    1. You should apply for a job at CNN or MSNBC.
      You would fit right in.

  2. Yes Auburn will be a tough game. Are we playing them here or away? I would like to see that game

  3. Kentucky does not play Auburn this year.

    1. I know. I was trying to pick on Catman

      1. LOL

  4. Facts have never been the strong point for Kittydoodoo.

    1. I guess Auburn could beat BAMA this year & we play them in Atlanta for SEC Championship

      1. Now that would be a nice way to play Auburn

        1. If the football gods were so kind to write this script for UK, I think UK owes Auburn one after the last time they played and UK gave it away at the end at Kroger field.

          1. Amen to that Professor. the game really hurt

    2. True dat !!!

      1. Yawn

        1. Is that you, Fredo?

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