Road games this early in the season aren’t common for the Florida Gators. It’s not that we haven’t seen them, but there’s an infrequency to traveling this early in the season. This time around it’s different. It’s Welcome to the SEC Weekend. The conference’s newest members are hosting two of its most storied programs. Florida travels to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies while the Missouri Tigers host the Georgia Bulldogs.
Opponent: Texas A&M Aggies
When: Saturday, September 8, 2012 – 3:30 PM (Eastern)
Where: College Station, TX
Records: Florida: 1-0, Texas A&M: -
Rankings: Florida: 24/23, Texas A&M: -
Current Streak: Florida: W1, Texas A&M: -
Point Spread: -
Calculated Score: There are no ties in college football anymore.
Points Scored: Florida: 27, Texas A&M: -
Points Allowed: Florida: 14, Texas A&M: -
The Gators have a starting quarterback, which shouldn’t be something we have to say two games into a season, but they didn’t have one for week one. At least, they’d like us to believe they didn’t have a starting quarterback. Plenty has come out following the season opening win that suggests that Jeff Driskel had the upper hand over Jacoby Brissett going into week one and it would have taken a disastrous performance for him to not get the ball in the second half.
So the Gators have their man, for now, and move forward to SEC play with a quarterback that has plenty to work on, but gave us one thing that makes us smile. That one thing? Confidence. If you had to pick one big difference between Driskel and Brissett during the 2011 season, it was confidence. Neither played well and they weren’t really expected to right out of the gate, but Brissett looked composed as Driskel looked scared. In week one, Driskel had his confidence under control. The Gators never got much of that from John Brantley during his two years as a starter, but desperately need it from whoever holds on to this job for the long-term. Driskel can get better, but game one was an improvement and that’s what we want to see.
If Driskel hasn’t made that game one to game two leap we all hope for (or maybe we don’t; it really depends if you were pulling for him or Brissett from the beginning, doesn’t it?), it will be a heavy dose of Mike Gillislee and the run game. That’s not necessarily a horrible thing. The Gators ran the ball 42 times in the win over Bowling Green. On those 42 carries, they totaled 220 yards, which was good for 5.2 yards per carry. An effective passing game needs to complement that, but it was good to see the senior running back take control and lead the unit to success. If Gillislee even gets close to his week one performance, he’ll set career highs in carries and yards some time during game three. The challenge presented to him is keeping it up.
Given how early it is in the season (it’s ridiculously early people; please just realize that), we won’t get too critical when discussing the wide receivers just yet. Frankie Hammond Jr. showed some burst and we might be okay if Quinton Dunbar can get multiple passes thrown his way each week. The issue is the player wearing No. 4. Kick returner extraordinaire he is, but reliable wide receiver he needs to be (sorry for sounding like Yoda there for a second). Andre Debose needs to be put into the passing game, but he needs to prove he should be on a consistent basis. We’ll reserve full judgement for a few more games, but Debose needs to make the offensive leap.
The defense was expected to be the strength and they were. There were first-game wrinkles, such as a few tackling issues and not enough aggressiveness in the run game, but it was an overall serviceable performance that showed us this side of the ball can be something special. Allowing 327 yards in your opener to Bowling Green is far from ideal, but, again, it was game one and Will Muschamp appeared to be figuring out his personnel rotation. We learned that no one can take plays off, the defensive backs need to wrap up, and the line needs to bring pressure whether it’s a running down or a passing down. The defense needs to be as great as everyone predicted. The offense is figuring itself out and it will be rough at times. That’s where the defense needs to step up.
And then there are the penalties. We’ve already covered penalties and the problem they present. Our main thought: fix it.
The Gators welcome the Aggies to the SEC and the Aggies welcome the Gators to College Station. It’s the beginning of a new era for the Southeastern Conference. Exciting for all of us that are fans of SEC football, but as fans of the orange and blue first, we just want to win. Go Gators!