Texas A&M vs. Florida: Production from Aggies Ground Game Is Essential

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 7, 2012

Texas A&M RB Christine Michael
Texas A&M RB Christine MichaelThomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Texas A&M's first-ever SEC game is one that's shrouded in mystery—for both participants.

Florida was purposefully vanilla in its season opener vs. Bowling Green. While all of the focus in Gainesville may be on new starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, the Gators already solved their biggest issue—finding a between-the-tackles running back.

Mike Gillislee was awesome in his debut as the starter, rushing 24 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Regardless of how big a game is or how raucous the atmosphere is, head coach Will Muschamp can rely on him.

What will Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin do? 

He may be known for slinging it all around the field, but the key for the Aggies in this one is the running game.

Florida finished last season with the nation's eighth-best defense giving up 299.5 yards per game, but the Gators finished 40th in rush defense (132.69 yards per game). Bowling Green ran 79 plays against the Gators last weekend, but only 27 were running plays, so last weekend isn't really a good gauge on the progress of the Gators run defense.

Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury say that they like to get the ball in the hands of playmakers in space. With apologies to Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu, a lot of those playmakers make plays on the ground. 

If healthy, Christine Michael is a solid SEC running back. The senior has 2,374 yards and 22 touchdowns during his first three seasons in College Station and knows that this is his season to shine.

Aside from Michael, the Aggies expect big things from Trey Williams. Williams was the nation's No. 2 all-purpose running back in the Class of 2012, and can be the "lightning" to Michael's "thunder."

Throw in running back Ben Malena, dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel and an offensive line that's probably the best in the SEC outside of Alabama's, and you have a recipe for success in College Station.

Watching how Sumlin adjusts his offense to the speed of SEC defenses is going to be fascinating to watch not only in this game, but throughout the season. Considering the firepower on the ground, expect more running that you saw when Sumlin was at Houston.

Whatever happens, the Florida vs. Texas A&M game should be fun to watch. So many unknowns on both sides that will be answered at about 7 p.m. ET when the final gun sounds.