Defensive tackle Jaye Howard grabs a fumble and heads to the end zone to put Florida ahead 28-3 in the second quarter. [Associated Press]
SB Nation Tampa Bay highlights the five things we think we learned about the Florida Gators after beating Kentucky.
As college football fans everywhere get geeked for the 12th ranked Florida Gators and 3rd ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, let's briefly look back at the Gators 48-10 woodshed whipping of the Kentucky Wildcats and try to determine if we truly learned anything from the contest.
1. This just in - Florida can really run the football.
It's been pretty obvious all season that the Gators' dynamic trio of Demps, Rainey and Burton were pretty formidable. Florida emphasized the point on Saturday, rushing for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns. That's not a misprint, folks. 405 yards.
Demps ran for 157 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown, Rainey added 105 on 10 carries, while reserve back Mike Gillislee broke a 60 yarder for a score and finished the game with 84 yards on 6 carries. Trey Burton would add another touchdown and 33 yards on six carries.
2. After three weeks of dominating run defense, Florida had a rough night in Lexington.
Something Gator fans didn't want to see become leaky a week before facing Heisman candidate Trent Richardson is a poor performance on run defense. However, the Gators turned in a rather pedestrian performance against a sub-par Kentucky running game. The Wildcats came in ranked 92nd ranked rushing attack in the country but managed to pound out 134 yards on 36 carries. It was just a 3.7 yards per carry average and in the Gators defense, Kentucky QB Morgan Newton contributed for most of the yardage with 50 yards on 6 carries (including one that broke loose for 31 yards).
The Gators have been stout on defense all season and still rank 9th in the nation against the run.
3. Big plays still coming primarily from the running game
While John Brantley connected with Gerald Christian for a 45 yd touchdown, it's the running game that still provides the explosion for the offense. Jeff Demps scored on runs of 20 and 84 yards while Mike Gillislee added a 60 yard score.
Chris Rainey also had a run of 27 yards (although he didn't reach the promised land).
With Alabama having one of the best run defenses in the nation, Florida may have to rely on the arm of John Brantley to make the difference.
4. Florida's receivers need to step up.
So far, the Gators haven't needed much of a passing game this season. When you're averaging 259 yards a game on the ground you really don't have to worry about throwing the football. But one day this season (perhaps as soon as Saturday night), Florida's going to face the adversity of not being able to get that vaunted ground game going. When that happens, the Gators need one or more of their receivers to step up.
The Gators leading receiver is Rainey by a large margin (11 receptions, 214 yards, 2 receiving touchdowns). After him, you have Deonte Thompson with just 7 receptions for 93 yards, Quinton Dunbar (5 catches, 83 yds) and tight end Gerald Christian (4 rec, 72 yards). That's not yardage for one game, folks - that's for the first four games of this season.
Obviously, for Florida to compete for an SEC East title, they'll need more production from Brantley and his targets.
5. Have the Gators really been tested?
Not really. Both FAU and UAB were just cashing paychecks at the Gainesville ATM while the Vols are getting better but still aren't a real contender in the SEC East. Kentucky is...well, Kentucky.
So we really have no idea how good this Gator team is. Can this running game sustain against a top flight defense? Can the Gators defense - which has been solid all season - stop an offense with a real threat?
We'll find out on Saturday night.