6:29:17:Football vs. Florida

Kentucky wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (1) looks back at a defender before scoring a touchdown during the University of Kentucky vs. Florida football game on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 20-13. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Saturday night, Kentucky did something they hadn’t done in 35 years—defeat Florida in Lexington.

Amid the prolonged celebrations and charred couches, it’s time to clear the smoke and break down some film and emphasize some of the more notable moments from the 20-13 victory over the Gators. 

Wan’Dale Robinson:

Robinson is a bad man—plain and simple. He provides a spark to the offense that many teams just don’t have. His 41-yard score will go down in Kentucky football history and be as fondly remembered as Terry Wilson’s touchdown strike to Lynn Bowden in The Swamp back in 2018. 

Robinson finished with four receptions for 65 yards and the one touchdown. He averaged 16.3 yards per reception and still remains atop the SEC receptions leaderboard with 29 catches or 467 yards.

Defense continues to come up big:

For the third-straight week, the Kentucky defense has made up for the offense’s slack. With the game on the line, Florida drove downfield late in the fourth quarter and Kentucky stopped the Gator offense from inside the 10-yard-line eight separate times that ended with a fourth down stand on the eight-yard-line on a pass tipped by Jacquez Jones.

Eight separate times.

The same Florida team that scored 31 points on No. 1 Alabama—the same Florida team that averaged 322 rushing yard per game before Saturday, was stopped by Kentucky eight times at the goal line.

Kentucky also held one of the nation’s most prolific rushing attack to just 171 yards on the ground and 4.3 per carry. It‘s also worth noting that Florida ran 72 plays compared to Kentucky’s 45. The defense was on the field for 33:42, which is 55 percent of the game.

Trevin Wallace:

Make a name for yourself, kid.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Kentucky was a field goal away from being down 13-7 in the third quarter, but linebacker Josh Paschal got his hand on the kick on it’s way up, falling perfectly in the hands of the freshman Wallace.

Going for it on fourth and two:

When it comes to the outcome of the game, going for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter rather than kicking the field goal—the play call turned out to be inconsequential. Don’t expect to see that call again, though.

Liam Coen said post-game that he wasn’t happy with his play calling on that drive and particularly on the call that essentially left points off the board while kicker Matt Ruffolo went 3-3 on field goal attempts just one week prior.

Crowd = Loud:

The last time Kroger Field was packed, loud and rowdy the way they were Saturday night was in 2018 when No. 12 Kentucky took on No. 7 Georgia. 

You could feel the anticipation in the stadium as the game progressed; Big Blue Nation was desperate to see their team knock off the Gators.

Security was set up along the barrier that separated the student section from the turf. The security was pointless and the goal posts were taken down before the clock hit zero and Kroger Field quickly turned into a raving mosh pit around the players.

“It was like a dream,” Paschal said post-game. “You only play in so many games where you’re going to have a crowd rush the stadium. That was my first time, so seeing that—they came in fast too. 30 seconds into it, you could barely walk.” Quarterback Will Levis said the fine the SEC will stamp on the UK Athletics budget will be worth it.

Florida penalties:

15 penalties for 115 yards.

If anything helped Kentucky, it was the slew of Florida penalties that saw the Gators shoot themselves in the foot time and time again. Eight false start penalties and overall undisciplined football from Florida was a major deciding factor that contributed to the Kentucky victory.

JJ Weaver:

What hasn’t the sophomore edge rusher done this season? 

The Louisville-native is tied for third in the SEC when it comes to sacks (4)—no other Wildcat has more than one. He snagged a huge interception Saturday that gave Kentucky the field position to eventually take a two-possession lead in the fourth quarter against Florida.

No one expected Weaver to have the impact he’s had coming off a torn ACL midway through the 2020 season. The pressure he brings on the edge cannot be understated as multiple times each game he forces the opposing quarterback out of the pocket to either make a play with their feet or try to make a difficult throw under pressure.

It’s not over until it’s over:

If it didn’t seem as loud as it could’ve been in the stadium Saturday night, it’s because BBN were holding their collective breathe until the final whistle. Kentucky knows all too well what it’s like to take their foot off the gas and have a team creep back up and steal the victory—but not Saturday. 

Florida rushed downfield, kicking a field goal to cut the lead to seven in the fourth. The offense went three-and-out and then drove all the way down inside the 10-yard-line. It also seemed poetic to think Kentucky would’ve blown a two-score lead to a top-10 team at home in under six minutes, but the Wildcat defense is that good with their backs against the wall.

Kentucky pulled it out, despite stalling on offense for the second-straight week and the ‘Cats are 5-0 and ranked No. 16 in the nation ahead of their date with LSU (3-2) this Saturday’s Kroger Field.