Florida vs. Texas A&M: Full SEC Week 2 Game Preview
Texas A&M will play host to the Florida Gators this Saturday and the Gators hope to spoil the Aggies' first SEC game.
There has been a little friendly jesting between the two schools, the mayor of College Station even got in on the action during the offseason, but A&M continued with this billboard in Gainesville on Tuesday.
Now, rivalries are earned and created over time and neither a YouTube video nor a billboard is not going to create one overnight, but it certainly brings an extra dimension to the game.
Texas A&M opened up as a 2.5-point favorite but that quickly moved down to 1.5 points and should end up as a pick'em game by kickoff.
This will be the first time that the 12th Man gets to see their new head coach, offensive scheme and a new quarterback in redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. The Gators will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance against Bowling Green that saw them struggle on short yardage situation and rack up 14 penalties for over 104 yards.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know about the Aggies' first SEC game and if the Gators will play the part of party crashers.
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Who: Florida at Texas A&M
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST
Where: College Station, Texas
Stadium: Kyle Field (82,589)
Radio: WRUF-AM 850 (Gainesville); 1620 WTAW College Station
Internet Stream: Watch ESPN
ESPN's College GameDay will be doing their live show in College Station this week. You can tune into ESPNU at 9 a.m. EST for the beginning of coverage and then again at 10 a.m. EST on ESPN. The show normally has a lot of content about the two teams playing in the city that they travel to so expect to see some features about both Texas A&M and Florida.
Depth Chart for Florida
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QB: Jeff Driskel, Jacoby Brissett
RB: Mike Gillislee, Mack Brown or Matt Jones
FB: Hunter Joyer, Trey Burton
TE: Jordan Reed, Clay Burton
F: Trey Burton, Omarius Hines
WR (X) : Frankie Hammond Jr., Latroy Pittman or Andre Debose
WR (Z): Quinton Dunabr, Solomon Patton
LT: Xavier Nixon, Kyle Koehne or D.J Humphries
LG: James Wilson, Ian Silberman
C: Jonotthan Harrison, Sam Robey
RG: Jon Halapio, Jessamen Dunker
RT: Chaz Green, Trip Thurman
DE: Dominique Easley, Earl Okine
DT: Sharrif Floyd, Damien Jacobs
NT: Omar Hunter, Leon Orr
BUCK: Lerentee McCray, Dante Fowler Jr.
Sam LB: Darrin Kitchens, Neiron Ball
Mike LB: Jon Bostic, Michael Taylor
Will LB: Jelani Jenkins, Antonio Morrison
CB: Marcus Roberson, Cody Riggs
CB: Jaylen Watkins, Loucheiz Purifoy
S: Matt Elam, Valdez Showers
S: Josh Evans, Jabari Gorman
Nickle CB: Matt Elam Jaylen Watkins
Dime CB: Matt Elam Brian Poole
K: Caleb Sturgis, Brad Phillips
P: Kyle Christy, Todd Fennell
PR: Marcus Roberson, Andre Debose
KR: Andre Debose, Mike Gillislee
Depth Chart for Texas A&M
Photo Credit: USAToday.com
QB: Johnny Manziel, Matt Joeckel or Jameill Showers
RB: Christine Michael, Ben Malena
TE: Michael Lamothe, Nehemiah Hicks
WR: Mike Evans, Derel Walker or Nate Askew
WR: Uzoma Nwachukwu, Sabian Holmes
WR: Ryan Swope, Malcome Kennedy
WR: Kenric McNeal, Thomas Johnson
LT: Luke Joeckel, Germain Ifedi
LG: Jarvis Harrison, Shep Klinke
C: Patrick Lewis, Mike Matthews
RG: Cedric Ogbuehi, Ben Compton
RT: Jake Matthews, Joseph Cheek
DE: Gavin Stansbury, Julien Obioha
NG: Kirby Ennis, Jonathan Mathis
DT: Spencer Nealy, Ivan Robinson
RUSH: Damontre Moore, Tyrone Taylor
Will LB: Steven Jenkins, Donnie Baggs
Mike LB: Jonathan Stewart, Justin Bass
Sam LB: Sean Porter, Michael Richardson
CB: Deshazor Everett, Dustin Harris
CB: De'Vante Harris, Tremaine Jacobs
S: Steven Campbell, Johntell Franklin
S: Steven Terrell, Toney Hurd Jr.
K: Taylor Bertolet, Davis Plowman
P: Ryan Epperson, Drew Kaser
PR: Dustin Harris
KR: Trey Williams
What Happened to the Gators Last Week
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The Gators survived a scare from Bowling Green in week one.
The Falcons scored first and gave the Gators a tough fight all the way into the fourth quarter.
Florida struggled running the ball in short yardage situations but still finished with 220 rushing yards on the day. Mike Gillislee looked as good as advertised while Mack Brown and Matt Jones looked good in their limited carries.
Jeff Driskel was named the starting quarterback, although there is a debate about whether or not he showed enough to earn the starting job. Having one quarterback take all the reps with the first team will be beneficial moving forward for the Gators.
The bottom line is: the Gators are where we expected them to be heading into College Station, 1-0.
What Happened to the Aggies Last Week
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The Aggies' season-opener against Louisiana Tech was postponed until October 18 due to Hurricane Issac.
This can be looked at two ways for the Aggies.
It could be a good thing. The Gators now will not have any game film to look at in preparation for the game. However, the Aggies will now be taking their new offense and defense into a game for the first time against much stiffer competition than Louisiana Tech.
What It Means to Both Teams
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The Aggies game being canceled means that the Gators will be looking at Houston game film in order to prepare for Kevin Sumlin's offense. The Aggies starting depth chart lists four wide receivers so it is apparent they will try to spread the Gators defense. Sumlin has had high-tempo, pass friendly offense wherever he has gone and you should expect to see the same at A&M.
According to Mark Schlabach, Kevin Sumlin doesn't believe the Gators showed much of their offensive playbook against Bowling Green.
Just talked with Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin, who is convinced the Gators showed nothing against Bowling Green on Saturday— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) September 3, 2012
The Gators will need to be better in Week 2 than they were in Week 1 if they want to win but will benefit from having played a game to knock the rust off.
Key Player for the Gators
Mike Gillislee will be the key player for the Gators offense
The Gators are trying to establish an identity as a power running, physical football team. You can see that after just one game where the Gators ran 42 times to just 21 pass attempts. The Gators will be more balanced against the Aggies but they still need Mike Gillislee to show up.
Gillislee waited patiently for four years to be in the spot he is now and he did not disappoint. The redshirt senior carried the ball 24 times for 148 yards and two scores. His 6.17 yards per carry is impressive.
Texas A&M had the 12th-ranked rushing defense a season ago, allowing just over 100 yards a game, so something has got to give.
Key Player for the Aggies
Photo Credit: ESPN.com
Texas A&M will be going with redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. Kevin Sumlin would have liked to have his young quarterback get some real game action before beginning conference play but will have to put blind faith in Manziel.
Manziel is a dual-threat quarterback, something Florida struggled with last year, who is as big of a threat running as he is throwing. Manziel will face his first game action against a tough Florida defense and will need to protect the football, manage the game and try to limit his mistakes if the Aggies want to come out of this game with a win.
The Gators Will Win If...
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The Gators will spoil the Aggies' first SEC game if they can run the ball, control the clock, win the turnover battle and limit penalties.
This will be Jeff Driskel's first start at Florida and the most hostile environment he has played in, sorry Auburn fans. Driskel played alright against Bowling Green but there is a lot of room for improvement. Driskel was able to use his legs to evade pressure but he needs to keep his head up and find open receivers as he runs.
To take the pressure off of Driskel, Florida will lean on Mike Gillislee. If Gillislee can continue to be the down back that Florida needs him to be they will win the rushing and time of possession battle. The blueprint that the Gators are going for is something similar to Alabama's offense. A strong physical running attack that opens up the play action passing game.
The Gators will open the playcalling up a little more and expect more play action and some deep shots down the field.
14 penalties is unacceptable. The coaches will undoubtedly drill that into the players' heads this week and the Gators should bring that number down against A&M. The crowd at Kyle Field will not make it easy on the Gators as far as getting plays into the huddle and communicating with each other on the field is concerned. This could lead to delay of game and offsides penalties, something Florida needs to avoid like the plague.
The Aggies Will Win If...
The Aggies will win this game if they stop the run, protect the quarterback and can get their own running game going.
We don't know much about the Aggies offense but if it is anything like Sumlin's past offenses than there will be plenty of throwing. A&M will need to get something going in the run game to keep Florida's defense honest. If Florida can get pressure on the quarterback with just four down-linemen, that will allow the Gators to play more nickle-and-dime defenses. If the Gators can put all of their talented defensive backs on the field it will be a long day for Manziel.
Stopping Gillislee will force the Gators to become one dimensional and put more pressure on Jeff Driskel. Driskel didn't show enough in the passing game last week to make us think he can win a game based solely on his arm. If the Gators are forced into third and long situations or are forced to come from behind it could be a long day in College Station.
The same goes for Manziel. The Aggies need to protect their quarterback and get him into a rhythm early. Bowling Green exposed the Gators last week with their quick passing game. Taking short drops and getting the ball out quickly was effective in taking away the pass rush and the Gators' poor tackling added more yards after the catch. A&M will likely start the game with some high-percentage throws to get Manziel's confidence up.
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Time to rub the crystal ball and predict who will win this game.
A&M is at a disadvantage with their game being cancelled. They will be going into this game with completely new offensive and defensive schemes. We all saw how the Gators needed a game to work out the kinks and get used to game speed. A&M doesn't have that luxury and it will be a big advantage for the Gators.
Florida wins 27-23