WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

UK challenged by Florida's speed

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips says
hosting No. 15 Florida on Saturday will be a challenge because of
the Gators' speed.
So how do you prepare for that?
"You could get a few cheetahs, a few hyenas," the second-year
head coach said. "We could probably go to the track team and that
still wouldn't be that close. They've got some national team-level
runners, probably an Olympian."
Phillips was referring to senior running back Jeff Demps, who
has won NCAA track and field championships in the indoor 60-meter
dash and the outdoor 100-meter.
The Wildcats (1-2) have fared better against the run so far this
season after ranking near the bottom of the country's rush defenses
last season. New co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter and his more
aggressive schemes - including having more players lined up in the
tackle box - has helped Kentucky combat the run.
So have position changes for some of the Wildcats' top
defenders, including senior Winston Guy who has fared much better
this season as an outside linebacker after spending his first three
seasons in the secondary.
This season, the Wildcats rank sixth in the Southeastern
Conference and 66th in the country with 136.7 rushing yards
surrendered per game. Linebacker Danny Trevathan, the SEC's leading
tackler with 38 through three games, said the Cats haven't seen a
test quite like Florida because of their speed.
"I noticed when (Florida) played Tennessee last week, they
threw Tennessee's speed off by throwing screens that kind of
contradict speed," Trevathan said. "I think they'll do something
similar. We play aggressive on defense, and I think they'll try to
counteract that. Screens, draws - things that will catch us off and
maybe get us back on our heels just long enough for them to be able
to use that speed to run past us."
If the Cats want to bottle up the Gators' speed, Trevathan said
the key is to stay in front of the ball carriers, being even more
mindful than usual of fundamental tackling techniques. Once Demps
gets the ball, Trevathan said, he prefers using his speed to run
past defenders instead of faking them out.
Cornerback Randall Burden said it's easy to point to Demps
because of his track and field credentials and his 344 all-purpose
yards in three career games against Kentucky. It's also easy to
single him out because Burden said Demps is the fastest player he's
seen in his fourth year of college football.
But the Gators' speed isn't limited to one position.
"It's a lot different because they have speed all over the
place," Burden said. "Their receivers and running backs are fast,
obviously. But they even have fast tight ends. Heck, their linemen
are faster than other linemen. It's something different than what
you get from facing other teams."
Defensive lineman Taylor Wyndham said Kentucky's scout team
can't simulate that speed so the only way they know how to prepare
is to go as fast as possible in practice this week and on the field
Saturday.
Even then, Wyndham said the only way to know Florida speed is to
see it firsthand.
"Florida always is fast. I don't know how," Wyndham said.
"Those Florida guys always have that speed. I don't know what it
is. I'm from South Carolina and I didn't get it. It's always a
quicker game. You just have to play to your best."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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