Florida-Texas A&M game preview

September, 7, 2012
9/07/12
8:00
AM ET
No. 24 FLORIDA (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at TEXAS A&M (0-0, 0-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
ESPN, WatchESPN

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
Rob Foldy/Icon SMIJeff Driskel will make his first career start at quarterback on Saturday in College Station, Texas.
Three storylines

1. New starter: Jeff Driskel will make his first career start at quarterback (he started at receiver last week), as the sophomore beat out Jacoby Brissett for the job mainly because of his mobility. That speaks to the concerns about the offensive line, which wasn’t impressive against Bowling Green. UF coach Will Muschamp pledged to open up the offense this week. If that’s the case, then Driskel will have a chance to prove that he can be a passer and make plays down the field, which is something the offense has struggled to do.

2. Electric atmosphere: It’s going to be crazy at Kyle Field. College GameDay is on site. It’s the Aggies’ season opener. It’s also the first SEC game in school history. That should make for a pretty hostile environment for the Gators. Most of the players have been in some pretty hostile places, but this might be the craziest. How will the young players, especially Driskel, handle themselves, especially if something goes wrong?

3. Advantage Gators? Or Aggies? Texas A&M’s season opener at Louisiana Tech was postponed because of Hurricane Isaac, and that robbed the Aggies of a chance of a trial run of new coach Kevin Sumlin’s wide-open offense. It also didn’t allow freshman QB Johnny Manziel a chance to get game experience and now his first snaps will come against a UF defense that finished in the top 10 nationally in 2011. But it also didn’t give the Gators any game tape to study, either. They’ve been watching Houston and South Florida film to compensate. The Gators were pretty vanilla in their opener to not give Texas A&M anything to study, either.

Gators to watch

RB Mike Gillislee: The senior proved, through one week at least, that he’s capable of being the Gators’ top tailback. The game plan is to get him 15-22 carries, Pease said, because he’s a back who gets stronger as the game goes on. This will be a better test than Bowling Green, though.

WR Frankie Hammond: Hammond had two drops but also delivered a big play when he broke a tackle and went 50 yards for a touchdown last week. He has been UF’s most consistent receiver throughout August, but he has to avoid that kind of up-and-down performance in a big road game with a young quarterback.

KR Andre Debose: He came close to breaking a kick and punt return for a touchdown last week. The Aggies have a new kicker, and UF has no idea how good his leg is or whether the Aggies will try to sky kick or pound it through the end zone. Debose may need to deliver a big play or two to help jump-start a tentative offense.

Aggies to watch

QB Johnny Manziel: The redshirt freshman will make his first start. It’s not easy running Sumlin’s offense. Case Keenum did it well, but when he went down in 2010, the Cougars struggled a bit. Can Manziel handle the up-tempo pace? There’s going to be glitches because it’s the first game and Manziel has to be able to overcome them and keep the Aggies in manageable distances on third down.

PR Dustin Harris: He led the country in punt returns last season (18.6 yards per return), finishing ahead of Arkansas’ Joe Adams and LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu.

LB Sean Porter: The Aggies led the nation with 51 sacks last season and the 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior had a team-high 9.5 sacks and was an All-Big 12 first-team pick. He also had 79 tackles.

Key matchup

Florida RT Chaz Green vs. Texas A&M DE/LB Damontre Moore: Porter led the Aggies in sacks, but Moore was right behind him with 8.5. Moore lines up on both sides of the defense and at 6-4, 250, he’ll be a tough guy for Green to handle. Expect some help from the backs.

By the numbers

0 – Number of completions Driskel has on passes thrown 20 yards or longer. He’s 0-for-7 in his career.

1 – Number of UF victories when playing in the state of Texas. UF is 1-7-2 and its only victory came at Rice in 1977.

68 – Number of years it has been since a freshman QB started a season opener for Texas A&M.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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