Florida Gators: Gators-Aggies-090812

Gators show Aggies how SEC plays ball

September, 9, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- There were two distinctly SEC elements to Florida's 20-17 victory over Texas A&M on this historic Saturday deep in the heart of Texas.

The atmosphere, passion and pageantry were off-the-charts good. We're talking Baton Rouge, La., good; Tuscaloosa, Ala., good; and Athens, Ga., good.

The Aggies are going to fit right in.

Unfortunately for them, though, they also got a taste on the field of what lies at the core of SEC football, particularly in the second half.

"It's smash-mouth football, winning the line of scrimmage and getting it done in the fourth quarter," said Florida junior offensive guard Jon Halapio, reciting the second part of what made Saturday's game a vintage SEC affair.

It wasn't always pretty and teetered on being boring in spots, but was yet another reminder that grinding it out is a way of life in this league.

The Aggies will learn. They are well-coached and have the personnel to play with most of the teams in this league. In fact, they were clearly the better team in the first half Saturday and the team that dictated the tempo.

But the Gators were successful in turning it into more of a scrum in the second half, and they already had endured all the lessons they could stomach last season about being physical and playing for 60 minutes.

For Chris Low's full column, click here.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Here are five observations from Florida's 20-17 victory over Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

1. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease called a pretty good game. He had a nice mix of run and pass, and even though QB Jeff Driskel threw only 16 times, the passing game was pretty effective. Pease used the tight end and the wildcat to get Jordan Reed and Trey Burton involved. Perhaps his best call came late in the fourth quarter when the Gators were trying to run out the clock. He called a speed sweep for Solomon Patton, which worked for 12 yards and a first down. The defense bit on the play-fake up the middle and Patton easily got around the end.

2. Driskel may be getting killed for holding onto the ball too long, but it bears repeating something that UF coach Will Muschamp said: He took care of the ball. He made one stupid decision -- trying to throw the ball while being sacked and having the ball bounce off Kyle Koehne's helmet -- but other than that, he made sure he didn't put the Gators in a bad spot with a turnover. That's something that a lot of young QBs struggle with, but he earned a lot of trust from the coaching staff for his performance.

3. The Gators are going to have a hard time getting KR AndreDebose involved. Texas A&M had the perfect plan for Debose -- kick the ball as deep as possible to prevent him from bringing it out. Any team that tries to sky-kick to him and pin him deep runs the risk of Debose breaking a return. Debose did not do a good job in terms of his decision-making when he was fielding punts. Several times he got too close to the ball after he decided to let it bounce. He even tried to lay his shoulder into one of the players around the ball -- a dangerous move because if he had been pushed into the ball it would have been a live ball, and could have been a turnover.

4. The coaching staff apparently also has a lot of trust in freshman OT D.J. Humphries. He was on the field late in the game, as the Gators were trying to seal the victory by pounding the ball on the ground. It may not be too long before we see Humphries challenging for a spot in the starting lineup, especially if Matt Patchan (pectoral) continues to struggle with injuries.

5. The Gators committed three penalties in the game's first 23 minutes, but none in the final 37. That's a huge improvement from last week's 14 penalties, which included 10 in the first half, and it shows the up-downs and other punishment the coaching staff inflicted upon the team last week worked.

Video: Florida-Texas A&M wrap-up

September, 8, 2012

Chris Low and Ivan Maisel break down Florida's 20-17 win over Texas A&M on Saturday.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- There is plenty of blame to be spread around for the eight sacks Florida allowed against Texas A&M on Saturday.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel gets some for holding onto the ball too long and for not running sooner.

The offensive line gets some for allowing A&M's edge rushers, notably Damontre Moore (three sacks), to get past the tackles and for allowing the Aggies to get pressure up the middle.

The backs get some for missing a blocking assignment.

And the receivers get some, too, for not getting open and in one case running the wrong route.

"There's a lot of different things that go into a sack," UF coach Will Muschamp said. "It's not just one thing."

The Gators lost 48 yards in those eight sacks, and while Muschamp was upset about that, he was pleased that Driskel didn't do anything stupid with the ball. He didn't try to force a throw into coverage or throw back across his body to someone in the middle of the field to avoid a sack. Driskel didn't make the mistakes that young quarterbacks often do.

"He took care of the ball," Muschamp said. "There's good sacks, too. There's nothing wrong with ending the series with a punt. I know that's not allowed to be said at Florida, but there's noting wrong with that. We took care of the football."

Heat cramps Gators' style in Texas

September, 8, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas heat is apparently much different from Florida heat.

UF's players struggled with cramps during Saturday's 20-17 victory. Eight players, mostly on defense, needed to be treated for cramps and helped off the field. That was despite the game-time temperature being 83 degrees, which was cooler than originally forcast.

"I'm not sure (why)," UF coach Will Muschamp said. "It's a drier heat here. I didn't know we would have issues with cramps."

Among the players who were affected was right tackle Chaz Green, who missed several series while he was receiving fluids via an IV.

Texas A&M fans were not happy with UF's defensive players getting treated for cramps because they thought the Gators were doing it only to slow down the Aggies' up-tempo offense. Among those who were treated on the field were linebacker Lerentee McCray and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. But UF's players said it was a legitimate issue.

"It wasn't humid," left guard James Wilson said. "Just a dry heat."


Gators injury report from A&M game

September, 8, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Here's what Florida coach Will Muschamp said about the Gators' injury situation:

LB Jelani Jenkins suffered a thumb injury and was in a cast after the game. Muschamp said he did not know how long Jenkins would be out.

S Josh Evans suffered a right shoulder injury on a tackle. Muschamp said he believes Evans should be fine. "He just didn't get the strength back in his shoulder (to come back into the game)," Muschamp said.

CB C0dy Riggs suffered a sprained foot. "He should be fine based on what I was told on the sideline," Muschamp said.

RB Mike Gillislee suffered an undisclosed injury. Muschamp said he didn't know what it was -- just that Gillislee got "dinged" -- and the Gators used Mack Brown on the final drive to seal the victory. "Mack did a nice job going into the game and getting the ball north and south," Muschamp said.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- One of the biggest on-field changes for this year's Texas A&M squad is the installation of head coach Kevin Sumlin's and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury's up-tempo, wide-open, high-powered offense.

In the first half of the Aggies' season-opening loss to no. 24 Florida before 87,114 on Saturday at Kyle Field, the transition appeared smooth. The offense ran efficiently, redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel appeared confident and fearless, the pace was accelerated and the Gators had issues trying to stop the Aggies, who displayed a good mix of run and pass.

But in the final two quarters, things changed. Three-and-outs became the norm, rather than the exception, the running game became unproductive and Manziel -- who made several plays with his legs in the first half -- was bottled up. The final result looked like many the Aggies had last year, when they surrendered six games that they led by double-digits, even if it was arrived at in a different fashion.

(Read full post)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M doesn't appear to be having any trouble in its first Southeastern Conference game. The Aggies have actually made Florida look like a newcomer to the league here at Kyle Field.

Stat of the half: The Aggies have already run 48 plays. If the first-half pace holds, Texas A&M will run 96 compared to Florida's 62.

Player of the half: Aggies QB Johnny Manziel has pretty much been unstoppable. He isn't playing like a redshirt freshman making his first career start. He has made good decisions, both with where to go with the ball and when to run. He's 16-of-20 for 141 yards and has run for 41 yards and one touchdown on nine carries. The Gators aren't getting to him with the pass rush, and when they have, Manziel has escaped and made a big play.

What's working for Florida: Not much. The Gators have done an OK job of running the ball, but the yardage total doesn't reflect that because of the sacks. Mike Gillislee has had some success in the middle of the line of scrimmage. UF has also had success with the wildcat package with Trey Burton at quarterback.

What's not working for Florida: It's kind of an extensive list. UF's defense is having a hard time handling A&M's offensive tempo. The Gators knew the Aggies would try to run a lot of plays but can't seem to keep up. The Gators also are getting pushed around on the line of scrimmage and giving up yardage on the ground up the middle. They also have no answer for Manziel. He's hurting Florida with his feet as much as his arm. UF's defenders are running down the field chasing receivers, and once Manziel gets by the line of scrimmage he's got plenty of room. Florida QB Jeff Driskel is holding the ball too long. The short passing game is working, but when Driskel tries to go downfield he's waiting too long to throw, and that has resulted in several sacks.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- While all eyes will be on the two quarterbacks Saturday and how they fare in their first outing as starters, a bigger key will be how well the players around them play.

That was more or less Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's message to his redshirt freshman, Johnny Manziel, who does have a gunslinger side to him. Hence the nickname Johnny Football.

But what Sumlin wants him to do, especially in this game, is to use the people around him. Get the ball to Ryan Swope. Lean on Christine Michael. Let that veteran offensive line do its job.

It's much the same deal for Florida's Jeff Driskel, who's making his first start as the Gators' quarterback.

For all the talk about what Florida's quarterbacks haven't done the past couple of years, they haven't gotten a lot of help from their receivers, either. They need more plays similar to the one Frankie Hammond turned in last week, where somebody gathers in a short pass and turns it into a 50-yard play.

Where this Florida offense has a chance to be different than last season is at running back. Mike Gillislee appears to be that workhorse that can get it done between the tackles and also break some big plays.

The two quarterbacks will indeed be on center stage Saturday at Kyle Field. But their supporting casts will decide the game.


SEC players featured on Kiper's Big Board
Mel Kiper Jr. discusses SEC players and their NFL combine performances.