GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here’s an analysis of three key plays in Florida’s 38-0 victory over Kentucky on Saturday.
Jaylen Watkins’ interception return
The score: Florida leading 10-0 with less than nine minutes remaining in the first half.
The situation: Third-and-5 on the Kentucky 25-yard line.
Why it worked: Watkins recognized the play from film study throughout the week and knew exactly where the ball would be thrown.
The breakdown: Kentucky had WRs Daryl Collins and E.J. Fields stacked on the right side of the formation between the hash marks and the numbers. Collins is on the line of scrimmage and Fields is 3 yards behind him. QB Morgan Newton is in the shotgun. CB Loucheiz Purifoy is lined up in press coverage on Collins while Watkins is 6 yards off the line of scrimmage.
Newton catches the snap and immediately turns to his right and stares at Fields, who has worked off of Collins and simply runs a slight inside pattern to the 29-yard line. Watkins jumps the route and intercepts the ball 3 yards in front of Fields and returns it for a touchdown to give UF a 17-0 lead with 8:24 remaining in the half.
Watkins said he knew exactly what was coming when the Wildcats lined up.
"When they stack (receivers) on top like that, they're pretty much going to pick the top corner, which was Loucheiz, and run a sneak route underneath. So I just beat the receiver to the spot," Watkins said. "I'd seen it over and over in film, and I kept watching (Friday) night. It was just pretty obvious."
Omarius Hines’ 52-yard reception
The score: Florida leading 17-0 with about five minutes remaining in the first half.
The situation: Third-and-14 on the Florida 25-yard line.
Why it worked: The offensive line gave Driskel five seconds to throw the ball and Driskel read the field and came back to Hines.
The breakdown: Florida lined up in shotgun with three receivers on the right side: Jordan Reed on the line of scrimmage, Hines to his right in the slot, and Quinton Dunbar to Hines’ right. Just before the snap, Dunbar goes in motion toward the right sideline.
At the snap, Reed cuts toward the middle of the field while Dunbar heads down the right sideline. Hines runs by LB Miles Simpson and is wide open in the space between Simpson and S Dakotah Tyler. Driskel, however, doesn’t see Hines at first, even though he’s looking at the right side of the field.
The left side of the offensive line created a huge opening and Driskel is able to slide to his left, where he spots RB Matt Jones open about 4 yards past the line of scrimmage. Before he can throw the ball, DT Tristian Johnson cuts around LT Xavier Nixon, LG James Wilson and C Jonotthan Harrison and jumps right in front of Driskel.
Driskel hops and slides to his right, spots Hines, and delivers the ball just before he’s sandwiched between Johnson and DE Farrington Huguenin, who had broken free from RG Jon Halapio and RT Kyle Koehne.
The ball is underthrown, which gives Tyler time to catch Hines. But Tyler isn’t looking back for the ball and Hines – after a quick push off -- jumps and makes the catch over Tyler’s right shoulder for a 52-yard gain.
Frankie Hammond’s 16-yard reception
The score: Florida leading 24-0 with about four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The situation: Third-and-4 on the Kentucky 29-yard line.
Why it worked: Driskel recognized that he had single coverage against his best wide receiver.
The breakdown: Florida lines up in the shotgun with three receivers to the right and Hammond on the left at the numbers. RB Mike Gillislee lines up to Driskel’s left, but goes in motion to the right side of the formation just before the snap.
Kentucky has two safeties on the field, but both slide to the right side of UF’s formation to compensate for the additional receivers on that side. Tyler lines up on WR Raphael Andrades, leaving S Mikie Benton as the single high safety. CB Martavius Neloms is lined up in man coverage against Hammond.
At the snap, Hammond runs a quick slant and Driskel fires a pass that Hammond catches at the 23-yard line. He’s eventually wrestled to the ground by Neloms after a 16-yard gain. The Gators scored a touchdown four plays later.