The Florida Gators, also known as everybody’s hot pick after week 1, ran into a Kentucky Wildcats team that now makes us question how good they really are.
After starting the year unranked, the Gators flew up the rankings all the way to 12 after their win over No. 7 Utah.
Billy Napier praise was prevalent, and quarterback Anthony Richardson was dubbed the next Cam Newton and even had an intimate interview with Tim Tebow.
Now after their recent loss, they fall 6 spots back to number 18. And this defeat raises concerns that will need to be addressed as the season continues.
Anthony Richardson and Florida Gators fall to Kentucky Wildcats
First and foremost, the Gators live and die by Richardson.
So when he finishes with 143 yards passing, 2 interceptions, and a 40% completion percentage like he did this past Saturday, you’re going to have to take the pressure off of him.
One of the areas the Gators excel in is the run game and that’s the area they should go to when Richardson can’t carry them to victory.
And for the most part, the running backs for the Gators did a good enough job to win, they just didn’t get enough opportunities.
Florida threw the ball 35 times compared to 30 rushes. For context, they ran the ball 15 more times than they passed against Utah in week 1.
Against Kentucky, the Gators averaged 4.5 yards per carry and that’s including Richardson’s 6 carries for 4 yards. Montrell Johnson Jr. had 7 carries for 62 yards and Trevor Etienne had 9 carries for 46 yards.
Both of those backs are averaging over 7 yards per carry on the season and are ready to handle a bigger load for Florida.
It’s imperative that the Gators doesn’t place too much on Richardson’s shoulders, especially when the opposing team commits so heavily to stopping his ground game.
Looking back on the Utah game, a lot went well for the Gators that won’t be something to lean on consistently.
Richardson’s passing stats didn’t overwhelm you, but he had a 70% completion percentage on 24 throws. If he throws over 30 passes, then that percentage will drop.
Richardson had 106 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns of his own while the Gators backfield added 176 rushing yards and a score.
If you expect to continue rushing for almost 300 yards a game against SEC teams then you’d be foolish, but this Gator rushing attack is elite.
And when Richardson doesn’t have it going, that doesn’t me you should abandon it because at the end of the day, he won’t be able to win you the game with his arm just yet.
In a back and forth game against Utah, the Gators stuck with the run and it paid off.
Last but not least, they must take care of the ball.
Against Kentucky, they aired it out 2 too many times with both interceptions resulting in 14 points.
That proved to be the difference for the Florida Gators and just too much for a stout defense to handle.
Looking ahead, the Gators will be able to work out the kinks against the USF Bulls this upcoming week.
But the following week they’ll go on the road to play a Tennessee Volunteers team who just had a big win over Pitt.