Florida vs. Texas A&M: Players Who Will Shine in SEC Opener
Welcome to the SEC, Texas A&M. You get to play against one of the most historic franchises in recent college football history, Florida, in not only the first game of the season but first SEC game ever. How's that for a welcome?
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel will have his opportunity to shine against the Aggies defense Saturday, but how will he handle the crowd noise? How will he handle playing in a hostile environment?
Driskel is one guy who will get his chance to play well, but here are three more who will shine bright on the big stage.
Florida running back Mike Gillislee is finally getting his opportunity to carry the ball several times per game. Throughout his four years at Florida, he has improved his rushing total every year despite not ever receiving more than 58 attempts.
Last week against Bowling Green, Gillislee capitalized on his opportunity by rushing for 148 yards on 24 carries.
While Bowling Green isn't the absolute best team to stack up and say, "Hey! Look what I did!" it still can't go without being mentioned.
Driskel will find his share of struggles on the road, but he will desperately need a rushing attack to balance the offense. If Florida wants to have a chance to win in a hostile environment, rushing the ball and capturing positive yardage on first and second down will keep the Gators from 3rd-and-longs.
Gillislee will have to make every yard count. He will.
This game will be more defensive-oriented, which will put pressure on the playmakers to make plays for their respective teams.
Wide receiver Ryan Swope may be the best playmaker on the field Saturday. With his ability to be diverse in the passing attack, Swope will have to prove that he truly is one of the best playmakers in the SEC.
If he can prove it this year, during the Aggies' first year in the conference, we are looking at a potential first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Swope caught 89 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Florida's utility player, so to speak, will have a much better contribution to Saturday's game than he did against Bowling Green (two receptions, 12 yards). Burton is a fantastic player who can do it all on the field. Literally.
He can play quarterback, line up in the backfield, line up in the slot, outside and he can do work on special teams.
Despite not being able to take that next step in his collegiate career, Burton is still capable of making big-time plays with his speed and acceleration.
Will Texas A&M win in its SEC debut?
Texas A&M would have preferred to play Louisiana Tech in Week 1 like it was supposed to do, but Mother Nature had something to say about that. Unlike Florida, we won't know how they will perform on Saturday.
The unknown can be a scary thing, especially when that team is playing in front of one of the best fanbases in the country.
Despite Florida not being as polished of a football team under head coach Will Muschamp, it is slowly on the rise on the college football landscape. When you lose a coach like Urban Meyer, you can expect a season like the Gators had last year (7-6).
They just aren't ready to take that next step quite yet.
Texas A&M 20, Florida 17
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