They say revenge is a dish best served cold, or something like that, but the Florida Gators don’t have the appetite for it this weekend. A year after losing a rare game to the Kentucky Wildcats, the Gators get their shot to avenge last year’s defeat, but that is not a theme they are playing up this week.
“The past is the past,” Florida running back Malik Davis said this week, according to the Associated Press. “It’s not revenge. We are treating it like any other game.”
Part of the reason some Florida players aren’t looking at this as a revenge situation is because Kentucky has a new look to them this year after losing some key players from last year’s meeting to the NFL like Josh Adams and Benny Snell. Quarterback Terry Wilson has also been lost to a season-ending injury, so he’ll be out of the picture too.
Florida had won 31 straight games against the Wildcats up until last season. Kentucky’s 27-16 victory in Gainesville wasn’t by accident either, as the Wildcats thoroughly controlled the game from start to finish. Now, Kentucky will look to win a game against Florida in Lexington for the first time since a 10-3 victory in 1986. Kentucky is also looking for back-to-back wins against Florida for the first time since 1976 and 1977.
The quarterback carousel continued in Gainesville on Saturday. Luke Del Rio, who was just named the starting quarterback for Florida this week after guiding the Gators to a road win at Kentucky last week, was taken out of the game with an apparent shoulder injury late in the first half. Feliepe Franks came in off the bench and had an immediate impact with a deep pass to setup a key field goal and then had an efficient second half through the air to help guide Florida to a 38-24 victory over Vanderbilt.
It is unknown at this time what the future holds for Del Rio. The injured shoulder was the one he had surgically repaired last year, so the caution level is understandably high for the Gators and Del Rio. If he is out for an extended period of time, then it will be up to Franks to provide a steady and reliable arm in the offense moving forward if Florida is to contend for the SEC East.
At least Florida can still generally rely on their defense. Although Vanderbilt put together some good drives at times, the Gators had enough stops to hold off the upset bid from the visitors. But the offense was keyed by the first 100-yard day on the ground by Malik Davis, who took off 39 yards for the dagger on a 4th and 1 late in the game.
After going to halftime tied at 17-17, thanks in large part to a deep pass from Franks to setup a game-tying field goal as time expired in the first half, Florida scored two touchdowns on two straight offensive series while Vanderbilt was held to a three-and-out and fumbled the football away to the Gators. Florida took a commanding 14-point lead on Vanderbilt and that was enough t grab the win at home.
Florida will stay home next week for a game against LSU. Florida snapped a three-game losing streak to the Tigers last season in a game that was transplanted to Baton Rouge following a rescheduling fiasco following a hurricane. LSU ended up hosting the game that was originally scheduled to be played in Gainesville, and to accommodate the change the Gators gained the home game this season.
Vanderbilt will be home next week for another SEC East battle, this time with Georgia. Vanderbilt upset the Bulldogs last season in Athens, 17-16 and the two schools have split their last four meetings.