The Game is over, Florida survives a tough game in College Station. The Gators won the game 20-17 and spoiled the Aggies SEC opener. Jeff Driskel showed some playmaking ability but still struggled with some indecision. Johnny Manziel is showed a lot of moxy in the first half and Texas A&M has a very good quarterback for the future.
We will be providing live game grades throughout the game. Make sure to keep this live report card open, and check back at the end of each quarter for updated analysis.
Overall Grade: B+
Driskel did what he needed to do to win the game. He managed the offense nicely, didn't turn the ball over and made plays when he needed to. His stats, 13-16 for 162 yards aren't eye popping but a quarterback is ultimately judged by wins and losses. Driskel got the win so he gets the grade.
Driskel showed a lot of poise in the first quarter. After A&M drove the ball down the field on the Gators defense and kicked a field goal Driskel led the team on a drive of his own. The Gators took 13 plays to drive the ball 75 yards for a Mike Gillislee touchdown. On the drive Driskel was 3-of-3 for 37 yards.
Driskel completed a nice pass to Omarius Hines for 39 yards to start the fourth quarter. Driskel showed nice touch on the pass and hit Hines in stride. Driskel would have had a touchdown on the day but Frankie Hammond let a fastball go through his hands in the endzone.
All things considered Driskel earns an B+ due to the fact that he was able to manage the game in a hostile stadium. He showed flashes of being a threat to take off but was too indecisive in the passing game. He also desperately needs to learn to throw the ball away instead of taking a loss on third down. Caleb Sturgis' first field goal should have been from about 44 yards rather than 51.
Driskel did show that the coaching staff made the right decision and he will only improve as he gets more experience and builds up his confidence.
Overall Grade: B
Mike Gillislee was slowed by what appeared to be a groin injury but was still able to get into the endzone twice. Gillislee carried the ball 14 times for 83 yards. The 5.9 yards per carry is impressive and he likely would have eclipsed the 100 yard mark if he was able to carry the ball more in the fourth quarter.
Mack Brown and Matt Jones were a bit disappointing today. Muschamp is looking for one of the two to step up and take the back up tailback role but through two games neither has been able to. Jones carried the ball five times for 10 yards and Brown wasn't much better with six carries for 16 yards. With Gillislee's injury history, it is important for one or both of the backups to earn the coaches trust.
Overall Grade: D
Frankie Hammond was the only player listed on the depth chart as a wide receiver to have a reception today.
Let that sink in.
Hammond had two receptions for 27 yards and a devastating block on an end around for Solomon Patton. Other than those two catches the receivers were nonexistent in the passing game.
Solomon Patton ran three end arounds for 31 yards and they all resulted in a first down. Pease praised the pint sized receiver for his speed in the offseason and Patton put it on display today.
It is puzzling to watch the game progress and watch Quinton Dunbar, Andre Debose and Latroy Pittman completely disappear. I have to watch the game again to even tell you if Pittman played today. The receivers need to get open and give Driskel a target to throw to so he doesn't get killed in the pocket.
Overall Grade: B
Jordan Reed ended the game with five receptions for 59 yards. Reed did a good job of staying on his feet when he was catching the ball and getting some solid yards after the catch. If he can continue doing this Reed is a major threat with the ball in his hands and could be a problem for opposing defenses.
Included in this group are Omarius Hines and Trey Burton. Both players are listed at the "F" position which is essentially a tight end that sometimes lines up in the backfield. Hines was ineffective running the ball but did have a nice catch on a 39 yard pass from Driskel.
Burton continues to be the jack of all trades and even took some wildcat snaps today. Other than running backwards 10 yards on one snap Burton had an alright game with two receptions for 16 yards. His brother, Clay Burton, did a good job as a blocking tight end on the day but didn't come down with a reception.
Overall Grade: C
The offensive line was mauled in the first half but played better in the second half Saturday. The box score will show that Driskel was sacked eight times but not all of those can be attributed to the offensive line. Chaz Green going down with an injury is troubling and Kyle Koehne was a less than adequate replacement for Green. If Green cannot return next week look for D.J. Humphries to slide over from left tackle or Matt Patchan to make a return.
Another troubling sign is the inability to get a good push on third and short situations. The offensive line is consistently getting pushed back a yard or two on those running situations. They need to have a gut check and get physical so Florida can pick up those crucial yards on third and short.
Overall Grade: B
The defensive line looked tired and outmatched in the first half. Something happened in the locker room and they came out like a unit possessed.
In the first half the line was getting pushed back in the running game and over pursuing, which allowed Johnny Manziel to tear the Gators up with his feet.
The second half saw the unit keep containment and force Manziel to beat them with his arm from inside the pocket. The line was able to get consistent pressure on the Aggies young quarterback and really set the tone for the second half.
The grade would be higher if not for an abysmal first half.
Overall Grade: A
The unit took a huge hit in the first quarter when Jelani Jenkins left the game with an injury. Jenkins is not only the staring Will linebacker he also gets the signals from the sideline and relays the play to his teammates. Antonio Morrison came in and filled his shoes nicely. This is a player to be excited about GatorNation.
Jon Bostic and the rest of the linebackers played a solid game. They were among the few on defense who actually wrapped-up on their tackles and were able to consistently bring their man down.
Overall Grade: B-
The defensive backs started the game off great. Matt Elam and Marcus Roberson had back to back pass breakups in the endzone on the Aggies first drive. The Gators gave up 200 yards of passing but most of that was due to missed tackles. An offense that the defensive backs were guilty off all too often.
It's hard to tell if the cornerbacks are afraid to wrap up or if they are going for a highlight reel tackle when they launch their body at a ball carrier. Whatever their motivation is, it's not working and they need to work on breaking down and wrapping up all week in practice.
Matt Elam was his normal disruptive self and Josh Evans was leading the Gators in tackles before he left with an injury. His backup was Jabari Gorman and he has a solid day filling in for the injured Evans.
Overall Grade: A
The special teams continue to be the Gators most consistent unit. Caleb Sturgis was 2-of-2 kicking field goals and extra points. Sturgis would have missed a 51 yarder in the first half if not for an A&M timeout. Sturgis' first attempt clanked off of the post but the second try was true. With two kicks of over 50 yards in just two game, Sturgis is putting together a case for the Lou Groza Award.
Kyle Christy was solid punting the ball. Punting is often overlooked but Christy was able to keep the Aggies in less than favorable field position with his punts today.
The new kickoff rule has really taken some of the fun out of the game. Andre Debose only returned one kick today and it went for 23 yards. He also muffed a punt but was able to fall on it to keep possession.
Overall Grade: A
Kevin Sumlin ran circles around the Gator coaching staff in the first half but Will Muschamp and the Gators were able to make half time adjustments and hold A&M to just 65 yards in the second half.
There is no telling as to what the gameplan was in the first half but whatever it was the coaches were smart to scrap it and go with something completely different in the second half.