Rowland: 10 Thoughts On Stephen Johnson Before His Last Game In Lexington

But just as impressive as the talent and depth is the actual leadership and football character of this team.

If it seems like three games is premature for a statement like that, well, whatever.

Nick Haynes, Mike Edwards or a host of others. There are lots of guys who seem to be captain material. But what's really impressive is the absence of the "bad apple" corner that can have a slow but serious corrosive effect. We still don't know how this team will respond when things get really bad (and yes, at some point they'll get worse than Deebo Samuel scoring on the first play and following that with an interception), but we know how they respond when things look pretty darn bad." data-reactid="70">Who are this team's leaders? You could point to Johnson, Courtney Love, Greg Hart, Nick Haynes, Mike Edwards or a host of others. There are lots of guys who seem to be captain material. But what's really impressive is the absence of the "bad apple" corner that can have a slow but serious corrosive effect. We still don't know how this team will respond when things get really bad (and yes, at some point they'll get worse than Deebo Samuel scoring on the first play and following that with an interception), but we know how they respond when things look pretty darn bad.

RELATED : The Good, the Bad and the Ugly following UK-South Carolina

It's amazing to think that, not too many football games ago, there was a very real expectation that Kentucky would fold at the first sign of adversity. Remember all those late first half and second half collapses running all the way up to the Southern Miss game (and bleeding into the Florida game) last year? It feels like a long time ago, doesn't it? The difference is all about leadership.

There's an atmosphere of accountability in Kentucky's locker room and on Kentucky's sideline, wherein players are pushing one another on and off the field and tolerating less loafing and mediocrity. That much is clear and a lot of people would tell you that. It just took some time for Mark Stoops to recycle the roster enough, and for those young and talented recruits to forge that character through many losses and much difficulty.

Kentucky is 34th in the AP Poll and 33rd in the Coaches Poll if you let your eyes drift down below the actual rankings into the "others receiving votes" category .

Were the Cats slighted?

I don't think so. If Kentucky beats Florida and moves to 4-0 then I believe they would debut in the 20-25 range in both polls, depending on what happened to teams ranked ahead of them. That would give them a nice chance to climb into the Top 15 with EMU and Missouri after that.

Kentucky's third in the country in rush defense" data-reactid="77">

DISCUSS: Kentucky's third in the country in rush defense

But the polls are still flawed. South Carolina was 27th in the AP as a 2-0 team going into Saturday night. Kentucky's now 3-0, having beaten South Carolina on the road and the Cats are now a solid five to seven spots lower than the Gamecocks were. If anything that's an admission on the part of voters (though really a non-admission because this is a collective effort) that South Carolina should not have been 27th.

And that brings me to...

View photos
Viobyfuvm9wxfqjxap0i

Yes, South Carolina was overrated .

I rode the fence on this a little bit. Although I did pick Kentucky to win the game 24-21, I did talk Jake Bentley up quite a bit. I don't regret talking Deebo Samuel up ... Nope, all the respect in the world to that guy. But I thought South Carolina was better than the team they showed to be on Saturday night.

That does not mean I'm withholding any credit from Kentucky. If you think I am then I challenge you to read any of my other post-game writing over the past 24-plus hours.

RELATED : Helmet stickers for top UK performers on Saturday

We just don't know how good NC State really is and we now know that Missouri is terrible.

Kentucky faces No. 20 Florida next and I don't think the Gators are actually one of the 20 best teams in the country. However, they do have a lot of talent and that makes them very dangerous.

Speaking of rankings, here's what my Top 25 would look like if I had a vote

1. Clemson

2. Oklahoma

3. Alabama

4. Penn State

5. Oklahoma State

6. USC

7. Wisconsin

8. Michigan

9. TCU

10. Washington

11. Mississippi State

12. Florida State

13. Georgia

14. Virginia Tech

15. Washington State

16. Miami

17. Oregon

18. Ohio State

19. Auburn

20. Minnesota

21. Utah

22. Vanderbilt

23. Duke

24. San Diego State

25. Kentucky

However, I'd throw in an asterisk or two. I predicted Washington to win the Pac-12 before the season and although I have USC ahead of Washington now, that's based on the strength of their wins against Stanford and a Texas team that's better than its record. I still think Washington is more likely to win the conference.

It's impossible not to appear to contradict yourself on these lists, and that shows up when I rank Florida State (which has accomplished nothing) ahead of more accomplished teams. But that's just because I'm more convinced that the Seminole defense will ultimately make them better than Virginia Tech, Miami and others, than I'm willing to put stock in those other teams' wins.

View photos
Tsl7jgvdk3t8kkkcawae

And nobody is an SEC power ranking pollster, but if I had that job here's how I'd rank the Cats' league.

1. Alabama

2. Georgia

3. Mississippi State

4. Auburn

5. Vanderbilt

6. Kentucky

7. Florida

8. LSU

9. Tennessee

10. Arkansas

11. Ole Miss

12. South Carolina

13. Texas A&M

14. Missouri

The Stakes: What's on the line when UK plays Florida" data-reactid="132">

RELATED: The Stakes: What's on the line when UK plays Florida

After the first week of the college football season it looked like the SEC was on its way back. Alabama handled Florida State, Tennessee inched past Georgia Tech, South Carolina beat NC State and the league avoided embarrassing losses.

Since then Georgia has defeated Notre Dame on the road and Vanderbilt has been impressive, knocking off ranked Kansas State.

But the top of the league after Alabama is just not that strong. The bottom is better than you'll find in most other leagues (with the exception of Missouri, which will be looking for a new coach and possibly as soon as the end of this season).

Kentucky opens as a four-point underdog against Florida. That line is understandable. Four-point favorites win roughly 65-percent of the time, and if you're riding a 30-year losing streak against a team those odds are pretty good. Yes, the Gators are ranked No. 20, and yes, there's history. But the Gators have looked downright bad on offense so far (21.5 PPG, 3.2 rush YPC, less than 200 pass YPG, 33.3% third down conversions).

All that said, Florida is not going to be an easy game. The time to buy Kentucky low with Vegas is over. It ended when the Cats went up 20-6 on the road against a South Carolina team that had been hyped beyond their real worth.

Florida's a four-point favorite because of the following statistics: Five interceptions, a 107 passer rating allowed, 50.1 yards per punt and the insane number of four star recruits on their roster.

As worrisome Florida's speed always is, and there is the possibility that UF's offense shows improvement, the big question is how Kentucky attacks that Gator defense .

It's not an easy question. In spite of big personnel losses from a year ago it appears that Florida once again has one of the league's best defensive teams.

However, through games against Michigan and Tennessee the Gators are surrendering 4.85 yards per carry. Those two opponents aren't chopped liver, but that's at least one promising sign for Kentucky heading into Saturday.

RELATED: Visitor list for Kentucky-Florida

Kentucky will have to commit to the run against Florida. Benny Snell averaged less than 4 yards per carry against South Carolina but still had a very successful 32-carry game because he helped move the chains and that commitment to the run opened up the passing game over time. It's unlikely that Kentucky will generate a lot of big plays against that stout Gator defense, so it will have to be a ball control game that Kentucky wins with solid execution, good defense and the kind of special teams performance we saw in Weeks 1 or 3.

Fortunately, Kentucky's staff has been bolstered by a couple of apparently very solid additions .

The special teams have been good for two out of three weeks and against South Carolina, when they needed to be really good, they were really good. The unit has made adjustments, game planned and executed well, and soundly, more often than not. That's a credit to Dean Hood, whose linebackers have also performed at a high level.

And how about Derrick LeBlanc? It's safe to say he arrived on Stoops' staff with less fanfare than a lot of the other coaches Kentucky has brought on in recent years, but has any position group seen the kind of improvement in short order that the defensive line has, going from the SEC's worst front to one that looks surprisingly capable and well coached?

Just the latest reminder that the hype doesn't always match up with reality.

This news has been published by title Rowland: 10 Thoughts On Stephen Johnson Before His Last Game In Lexington

If the page you admission is mistake or not read perfectly, entertain visit the native web in source CLICK HERE

Thank you for your visit to our website, hopefully the information we convey is useful, attain not forget to share and subscribe our web to acquire more information.

[TAG]3748
Rowland: 10 Thoughts On Stephen Johnson Before His Last Game In Lexington

Source:Yahoo Sports

Rowland: 10 Thoughts On Stephen Johnson Before His Last Game In Lexington

Rowland: 10 Thoughts On Stephen Johnson Before His Last Game In Lexington

Source:Daily Mail

Rowland: 10 Thoughts On Stephen Johnson Before His Last Game In Lexington

Rowland: 10 Thoughts On Stephen Johnson Before His Last Game In Lexington

Source:Daily Mail

Rowland: 10 Thoughts On Stephen Johnson Before His Last Game In Lexington