Florida hasn’t lost to Kentucky in 30 years.
Freddie Swain had no clue.
“I mean, that’s probably their Super Bowl,” the sophomore receiver said on Tuesday. “If I lost to a team that long, I’d try to win too.”
There may be some truth behind Swain’s words: According to SEC Country, the Kentucky football program failed to sell out a home game all of last year.
Saturday’s game sold out on Tuesday.
“We’re going to have a couple of boos and a couple of people that ain’t cheering for (us),” Swain said. “We’ve got a big target on our back.”
The Gators play their first true road game this Saturday against the Wildcats in Lexington, Kentucky, a matchup that has been historically and overwhelmingly one-sided. The last time UF lost to UK was in 1986.
Several of Florida’s players weren’t even aware of the streak, including Swain, redshirt freshman linebacker Jeremiah Moon and sophomore defensive lineman Luke Ancrum.
“That’s crazy. That’s a long streak,” Ancrum said. “I thought (the) Tennessee (streak) was long.”
Other players, like veteran safety Nick Washington, said they hadn’t thought about it. And, Washington said, neither has the team.
“I don’t think many guys are thinking that,” Washington said. “It’s not the focus.”
DT Luke Ancrum reflects, seeks to improve:
Sometimes, Luke Ancrum wishes he could go back.
He was selfish, he said. Immature. He didn’t seek advice from the older players, the ones with the most to offer a redshirt freshman playing his first season of college football.
“I didn’t really listen to anybody,” Ancrum said.
Now a redshirt sophomore, the defensive lineman said he has changed dramatically over the last year. He feels more comfortable on the defensive line, a unit that lost two players to the 2017 NFL Draft. His focus has improved, something he said was an issue last season.
And he’s even willing to seek out help from his teammates and coaches, the same ones who told him he had “to grow up.”
He just wishes he would have realized that sooner.
“Then again,” Ancrum said on Tuesday, “it’s not about the past. It’s about now.”
Ancrum, who usually comes off Florida’s bench, is one member of a young defensive line class seeing playing time early this season. But he wants to prove to coaches that he deserves more snaps.
Ancrum said he has been trying to improve his technique by watching redshirt junior defensive lineman Taven Bryan, one of four Florida players with at least one sack so far this season.
But, Ancrum said, he models his game after Aaron Donald, the three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams.
Ancrum isn’t focusing on earning highlight plays and sacks, however. He has a more modest goal.
“Just do your job,” Ancrum said, “and everything falls into place.”
Tyler Jordan noticing change in O-line:
Tyler Jordan isn’t happy with the way the offensive line played in Florida’s season opener against Michigan on Sept. 2.
But he has noticed improvement.
“We took a step this weekend of being able to show the world that we can run the ball,” said Jordan, a junior offensive lineman. “We have to keep doing that week after week.”
After rushing for just 11 total yards in their loss to Michigan, the Gators ran for 168 yards against Tennessee, a statistic that Jordan said is a direct reflection on the offensive line.
He said the biggest problem in the beginning of the season was the line’s lack of communication. But that has changed.
“You look back at the film and nobody really got beat. It was just that we didn’t communicate the play right,” Jordan said. “We did a lot better job of that this weekend.”