Florida Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 2 Game vs. Texas A&M
The Florida Gators got their biggest win of the Will Muschamp era on Saturday. The Gators overcame a first-half deficit to grind out the win and spoil the Aggies' SEC opener. The Gators looked flat and outmatched in the first half but came out of the locker room a completely different team in the second half. The defense was stifling and the offense did enough to secure the victory.
Every game each team will have winners and losers. Texas A&M should be excited about its freshman quarterback but worried about losing early leads becoming a trend; the Aggies lost four games that they led at halftime last season.
The Gators should be encouraged that they were able to come from behind for a big road win but concerned with how their defense played in the first half and the inability to protect the quarterback.
Who grades out as the Gators biggest winners and losers from their second win of the season? Let's find out.
Loser: Chaz Green
For a school that invented a beverage that is supposed to combat dehydration and cramping, Florida didn't do a good job of avoiding either. The Aggies' up-tempo offense wore the defense out and players started dropping like flies.
On the offense, right tackle Chaz Green, suffered from cramping during the game and was unable to return. The hole left by Green was noticeable as Kyle Koehne wasn't able to fill in adequately. Matt Patchan was unavailable due to his injury, and D.J. Humphries has been working exclusively on the left side. The Gators will need to make sure that they can go at least two deep at the position because Koehne will get eaten alive by good SEC defenses.
It might be nitpicking but Green finds his way to the "loser" list for the game for not keeping himself hydrated and not being able to return to the game.
Winner: Solomon Patton
Brent Pease had some very positive things to say about the Gators pint-sized receiver during the offseason and Patton showed us why on Saturday.
While Patton didn't record a reception, he ran three end-around plays that all resulted in a Gator first down. Brent Pease did a good job of setting up the plays, but it was Patton's speed that made the run effective.
Patton definitely made a solid impression on the coaching staff in the offseason, and his performance on Saturday will only increase their confidence in him.
Loser: Josh Evans
Josh Evans was on the tracks when a train named Ben Malena came rolling through.
It didn't end well for Evans.
Evans was blown up by the 5'8" 195-pound running back and left the game with an apparent shoulder injury. Coach Muschamp doesn't believe the injury will cause Evans to miss any more game action, but being run over by a much smaller back has to give your pride a big hit.
Winner: Omarius Hines
The only Texas native on the Gators roster may not be excelling at his new position, but Hines came down with the catch of the day for the Gators.
On 2nd-and-5 from the Gator 45, Hines got more separation than any Gator receiver had all day and caught a beautiful pass from Jeff Driskel for 39 yards. The play put the Gators in scoring position and Mike Gillislee scored the go-ahead touchdown two plays later.
It had to feel good for Hines to be able to make that kind of impact in his home state and in front of his family.
Loser: Jelani Jenkins
Jelani Jenkins left the game during A&M's first offensive series and returned to the field in street clothes and his arm heavily wrapped in a sling. The starting Will linebacker was injured on an excellent play where he blew through the gap and wrapped up Christine Michael.
It is unknown the extent of the injury, but this is a big loss for the Gators. The Gators are deep at linebacker, and with Antonio Morrison and Michael Taylor, they should be able to come close to the production that the Gators will need in Jenkins absence but they cannot bring his leadership.
Jenkins is responsible for getting the signals from the sideline and relaying them to the team; he is also the best coverage linebacker for the Gators. The coaching staff, his teammates and Gator Nation are all hoping for a speedy recovery.
Winner: Will Muschamp
Will Muschamp looked to be getting out-coached for most of the first half. Kevin Sumlin's offense was moving the ball at will, and Johnny Manziel was looking like anything but a freshman playing in his first college game.
Then the Gators went into the locker room at halftime and came out a different team.
After giving up 269 total yards and 17 points in the first half, the Gators shut out the Aggies in the second half and allowed only 65 yards. Will Muschamp showed his ability to make in game adjustments and got the biggest win of his head coaching career.
Make no mistake about it, Texas A&M may be new to the SEC but a come-from-behind win at Kyle Field is a quality win that the Gators should be very happy with.
Loser: The Receivers
Gators receivers caught just three passes against Texas A&M.
On the season the receivers have caught 11 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown.
The Gators are still desperately searching and waiting for a receiver to stand up above the rest. Andre Debose was absent on a lot of the Gators' offensive plays and Quinton Dunbar was held to just one catch.
The receivers must do a much better job of getting separation and getting open for Jeff Driskel. Driskel was a little timid and had some trouble going through his progression, but when everyone is covered on almost every play, there is really no need to go through a progression.
Winner: Mike Gillislee
Mike Gillislee was at it again. Despite dealing with an undisclosed injury, Gillislee produced both of the Gators touchdowns while tacking on 84 yards. Gillislee has battled the injury bug for most of his career, but if he can stay healthy he may come close to his lofty preseason goals.
The offense will continue to run through Gilly, and if he can keep producing at a high level, the Gators should be just fine.
Loser: The Offensive Line
Jeff Driskel was sacked eight times on Saturday. That is approaching David Carr's first season with the Texans territory and is unacceptable. After watching the game again you can attribute two or three of the sacks to Driskel holding onto the ball too long, but that still leaves a bunch of sacks that the offensive line is responsible for.
On top of struggling in pass protection, the line again had trouble getting a push on running downs. The very first offensive drive was stalled when Hunter Joyer was wrapped up for a two-yard loss on 3rd-and-1. The trend that started against Bowling Green continued against Texas A&M and will start wearing on the Gators as they continue in league play.
The line needs to be better. Period.
Winner: Jeff Driskel
Jeff Driskel earned the ultimate compliment from his head coach during Will Muschamp's postgame interview.
When asked what he learned about his quarterback in the game Muschamp responded via Jacksonville.com, "Not one thing, I knew it going in." That is high praise for a sophomore quarterback making his first start in a very hostile environment.
Driskel's numbers won't pop off of the page, but he managed the offense well and didn't turn over the ball. As long as Florida can lean on the running game and trust Driskel to protect the football, the Gators offense will be good enough to win some games. As he becomes more confident, the playbook should open up and passes like the one he completed to Omarius Hines will become more commonplace for the offense.
Driskel will get another rowdy crowd next week, but the experience of coming from behind at Kyle Field should give him the confidence he needs to be successful in Neyland Stadium.