Florida vs. Texas A&M: Aggies Shouldn't Expect Warm SEC Welcome from Gators
Welcome to the SEC, Aggie fans! That one is from all your new SEC brothers and sisters. Come bowl season, we're all pulling for the Aggies.
Between now and then, let's just say it's a sibling rivalry kind of thing. We all want to whip you, but we don't want anyone else to.
With about three weeks to go before the Texas A&M Aggies and Florida Gators get together, both teams are hard at it in their fall camps.
Fortunately, the Aggies and Gators both have a game before their SEC opener.
The Gators' first opponent doesn't look to be a roadblock to a 1-0 start. However, the Aggies are playing an up-and-comer in Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs were an 8-5 team in 2011 and are much better than most folks outside of Ruston, La., seem to realize.
Last year, Louisiana Tech lost to Houston by one point, Southern Miss by two, Mississippi State by six in overtime and the Poinsettia Bowl to TCU by seven. They beat Ole Miss 27-7 and were just a whiff away from 11 or even 12 wins.
The Bulldogs are not a team to overlook on the way to your first SEC game.
Still, Texas A&M should win over Louisiana Tech.
On September 8th, Kyle Field and the Aggies will play host to the rebuilding Florida Gators. This is a Florida team that hasn't won over the poll voters—or some of their fanbase yet. That is despite a winning season, a win over Ohio State in the Gator Bowl and the return of almost everyone from their stingy defense of 2011.
The issues for Florida stem from an anemic offensive performance against the better defenses last season. New offensive coordinator Brent Pease is making changes to the Charlie Weis offense and adding new motion, screens and a heavier use of the tight ends in the pass game.
Predictions for the 2012 Gator season are all over the place. From as low as third in the SEC East (Athlon, USA Today), to playing in the championship game (Phil Steele).
It is hard to say if the Gators have found the fix for the offense. Even the first game against Bowling Green won't offer much insight. But, with 10 of 11 returning starters on a rock-solid defense, there is no doubt they can make life difficult for their opponents' offenses.
There are plenty of question marks on the Texas A&M side as well. The Aggies have a new head coach, with new assistants and new ways of doing things. This makes for all the same questions Florida has. Questions only time—and playing games—will answer.
Both teams will be scouting the other intently as they play their opening game. The advantage for the Gators is they should be able to play a vanilla scheme and still come out on top. For A&M, they may have to throw the whole package at its opponent to assure the win.
Florida is a difficult opponent for the re-tooled Aggies to play in their first SEC game. A team only two years removed from being ranked No. 1 in the nation the whole season—following a national championship the year before—only to lose in the SEC championship game to Alabama.
Florida is a team still loaded with high-quality athletes, with a new coaching staff that is anxious to resume the tradition of excellence begun by Steve Spurrier and taken to the highest level by Urban Meyer. That task is now given to Will Muschamp in his first high profile head-coaching position.
Beware Aggies, this is a dangerous team. Coiled up more like a cobra than a Gator, they are ready to jump out and strike someone.
On the other side of the coin, beware Gators. Texas A&M has spent a year hearing about the difficulty of competing in the SEC. The Aggies have been picked to finish nearer the bottom than the top of the ultra-competitive SEC West.
Imagine what would be welling up in your proud team if you had listened to this for a year?
For Kevin Sumlin and his Texas A&M squad, the Gators are a real challenge. At least they get them at home. Last season, the Gators were only 1-3 away from Gainesville. The Aggies need their famous 12th man, an incredibly loud and enthusiastic crowd, led by their corps of cadets. But it would be even better if that 12th man could compete for them on the field.
Come to think of it, we would understand if coach Sumlin borrowed from Spurrier and asked to open with Ole Miss instead
Sibling rivalry can be so cruel at times.
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