September 20, 2017

Florida Gators

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  Gators gearing for improved Kentucky

Off a dramatic win at The Swamp against Tennessee, Florida is looking take some positive momentum into its matchup Saturday at Kentucky.

The Gators (1-1, 1-0 SEC) avoided their first 0-2 start since 1971 with a 26-20 win over the Vols. The game was decided on the final play, with redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks throwing a 63-yard TD pass to sophomore wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland as time expired.

The play sent the crowd of more than 87,000 into a wild frenzy. Florida was unable to hold onto a 20-10 fourth quarter lead, but pulled through in a cardiac ending nonetheless.

"Victories are hard to come by," Florida coach Jim McElwain said. "You celebrate them and learn from them, just like you do defeats."

There is plenty the Gators will need to clean up heading into their matchup at Kentucky (3-0, 1-0 SEC). Florida had three turnovers against the Vols and missed several tackles in the fourth quarter. The Gators didn't record an offensive touchdown until 5:13 left in the fourth quarter, when Franks found senior receiver Brandon Powell for a five-yard TD pass.

"There's a couple throws here and there I should have completed, should have been easy throws," Franks said. "But I try not to dwell on the past. You know, our team got the win which is obviously the most important thing. We got the win, and we'll just go from there and try to improve going throughout the week preparing for Kentucky on the road."

Defensively, McElwain was irked by some of the missed tackles. The Gators allowed Tennessee to gain 231 yards of offense in the fourth quarter after allowing just 211 yards in the first three quarters.

"Late in the game we didn't tackle worth a hill of beans," McElwain said. "What bothered me was the secondary tackling, especially from some of our, quote, some of our good guys, veterans. That's been pointed out and will continue to be pointed out."

Kentucky will enter the game with some confidence, having knocked off South Carolina 23-13 last week in its SEC opener. Florida has won 30 straight games against Kentucky, dating back to 1986.

"Every year it's different," McElwain said. "You've got two different teams playing, so, right now, it's 0-0.