Gameday: No. 23 Florida Gators at Texas A&M

Location: Kyle Field – College Station, TX [Capacity: 82,589]
Weather Forecast: 89°F, partly cloudy, winds N at 21 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT / 2:30 p.m. CDT

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox)
SiriusXM: 94/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network (affiliates)
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(23) FLORIDA GATORS TEXAS A&M AGGIES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin
Record: 1-0 (0-0 SEC) Record: 0-0 (0-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -1; O/U 49.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on what happened with the Gators over the last week? No problem. OGGOA has been here the whole time posting a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam on Saturday.

Jeff Driskel named starting QB | LS Drew Ferris out | CB Jaylen Watkins steps up | CB Jeremy Brown returns | Sumlin gives edge to UF | Quinn talks defense

EXTRA CREDIT: Four things Florida must do to top Texas A&M on Saturday

HISTORY / STREAKS

» Saturday’s contest between Florida and Texas A&M is not only TAMU’s season opener but also the school’s first-ever SEC game. The Gators are 1-1 historically against the Aggies with their last meeting coming in the 1977 Sun Bowl.
» Florida, however, is 1-7-2 all-time playing in the state of Texas and 10-11-2 all-time against seven total teams from the state. TAMU is 25-2 in home openers.
» Saturday’s game will be featured as a host site for ESPN’s College GameDay. It is the 21st time (14-7) that the Gators will be on the road for College GameDay. The Aggies will be hosting College GameDay for the third time (0-2).
» Florida is 8-1 against unranked opponents and 0-5 against ranked opponents since Muschamp took over the program in 2011.
» Sumlin is coaching his first game at Texas A&M after the team had its season opener postponed due to Hurricane Issac. He coached Houston to a 13-1 record in 2011.
» The Gators had eight true freshmen play in their season opener including three on defense, four on offense and one on special teams.
» Florida is not scheduled to face Tennessee to open their conference slate for the first time since 1996. (UF-UT was slated for the third week of the 2011 season but was postponed because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.)
» The Gators were scheduled to face Louisiana-Lafayette in week two but are instead playing an SEC game in the second week of the season for the first time since 1995.
» The Aggies are playing a conference opponent in their season opener for the first time since 1967 and just the third time in program history.
» Florida sophomore Jeff Driskel and Texas A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel will both start the first games of their respective college careers at quarterback on Saturday. Driskel played as a reserve in 2011 and saw plenty of action last week; for Manziel it will also be the first college football game in which he has ever played.
» The Gators rushed for 220 yards (5.2 yards per carry) last week in an effort to prove that the team has a power running game worth respecting. UF is now 8-2 under Muschamp when eclipsing the 100-yard rushing benchmark and 0-4 otherwise.
» Florida’s offense converted just 5-of-16 third-downs (31 percent) against Bowling Green last Saturday.
» The Gators held the Falcons to 4-of-17 on third down (23.5 percent), continuing a trend from 2011 in which UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent).
» Florida has forced eight turnovers in its last five games dating back to last season.
» The Gators are 8-1 under Muschamp when leading at the half but 0-5 when tied or trailing at that point in the game.
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010.
» Texas A&M set school records in 2011 in passing, scoring and total offense (seventh nationally). TAMU is returning eight starters from that offense but neither their starting quarterback nor primary running back.
» TAMU’s offensive line allowed just nine sacks in 13 games in 2011 and was only flagged for holding twice (the last time in the second game of that season).
» The Aggies led the country in 2011 with 51 total sacks and are returning their top two pass rushers from last season.
» Some college football rule changes for 2012: kickoffs moved up to the 35-yard line, touchbacks moved up to the 25-yard line, player losing his helmet in action results in halting participation immediately and sitting out one full play.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida and Texas A&M have only met on the gridiron twice before with their last showdown occurring in El Paso, TX in the 1977 Sun Bowl. The Aggies stomped the Gators 37-14 that day, forcing five turnovers and enveloping their opponents with a hard-hitting defense. Then-Florida head coach Doug Dickey lost starting quarterback Jimmy Fisher to a dislocated ring finger in the first quarter and was irked at the end of the game when Texas A&M went for a two-point conversion on their final touchdown. The teams’ only other meeting was in Gainesville, FL back in 1962 when the Gators routed the Aggies 42-6 by winning the battle on the ground 206-72.

ESPN: KEYS TO THE GAME

Read the rest of the Florida-Texas A&M preview including injuries and absences and which players to look out for from both sides of the field.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES*

» Active (1): Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (wrist)
» Probable/Questionable (1): Freshman defensive back Marcus Maye (knee)
» Inactive (8): Junior long snapper Drew Ferris (collarbone), redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral), redshirt freshman guard Tommy Jordan (shoulder), sophomore DB De’Ante Saunders (“hamstring”), junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (ACL), freshman TE Colin Thompson (foot), redshirt junior DE Kedric Johnson (knee), senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian (knee)

* As of Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. (will be updated closer to the game).

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior running back Mike Gillislee (#23)…who is now entrenched as the Gators’ starter, a role he has dreamed of since committing to the team four years ago. He registered career-highs in carries (24) and rushing yards (148) in the season opener while averaging 6.2 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns.
» Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel (#6)…who was officially named the starter on Monday after playing most of Florida’s season opener. He will be making his first collegiate start at quarterback (he was listed as a wide receiver in the first game) as he looks to prove that he deserves the job. Driskel went 10/16 for 114 yards in the opener, tossing a 50-yard touchdown and completing 62.5 percent of his passes.
» Junior Trey Burton (#8) and redshirt senior Omarius Hines (#20)…who are both expected to contribute as playmakers this season despite neither having a full-time position. Burton and Hines will both line up at running back, tight end and wide receiver with Burton also occasionally taking snaps from center and playing fullback as well. Burton has 16 career touchdowns despite never playing a full-time position, and Hines is hoping to have finally found an offensive coordinator who can utilize his talents.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (#4)…who has yet to put it all together on offense but is a dynamic kick returner for Florida. He did have consecutive games with 65-yard touchdown receptions in 2011 but finished the season with just 16 total receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns. In the return game he has brought back 40 kickoffs for 1,082 yards and three touchdowns.
» Junior safety Matt Elam (#22)…who has grown into his role as a leader and may very well be the Gators’ most dynamic playmaker on defense. He has 102 career tackles (67 solo, 11.0 for loss) along with three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two interceptions already in his career.
» Linebackers senior Jon Bostic (#1) and redshirt junior Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who respectively play the Mike and Will positions. Bostic is the straw that stirs the drink for Florida and is looking to build on a solid resume; he registered a team-high eight tackles (five solo, one for loss) against Bowling Green. Jenkins has had an equally impressive career already and was also solid in the first game with three solo tackles (one for loss).
» Juniors defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (#94) and defensive end Dominique Easley (#2)…who are back playing their natural positions after being swapped last season due to depth and personnel issues. Both players are five-star prospects who joined the Gators out of high school in 2010 as part of one of the best recruiting classes in school history. This season presents an opportunity for them to live up their hype and prove that their pre-college billing was accurate.
» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis (#19)…who is starting for Florida for the fourth-straight season. He was one of three kickers nationally to convert three or more field goals of 50+ yards in 2011 and was named as a finalist for the Lou Groza Award for a top-notch campaign that included him going 22-for-26 on field goals and a perfect 31-for-31 on extra points. Sturgis, who has already kicked three of the four longest field goals of all-time for the Gators, is just 20 made field goals away from passing Jeff Chandler’s 67 for most in school history.

TEXAS A&M
» Senior RB Christine Michael (#33)…who was second on the Aggies in rushing in 2011 despite missing the final four games of the season with a torn ACL. He racked up 899 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns while posting 230 yards (and three scores) against Arkansas and three-straight 100+ yard games against Baylor, Iowa State and Missouri. Michael has missed nine games over the last two seasons (broken right leg in 2010) but is still the SEC’s leading active rusher with 2,374 career yards.
» Freshman QB Johnny Manziel (#2)…who will be the first freshman signal caller to start a season-opener for his school since 1944. He was a member of the team’s travel roster in 2011 but never played and will be making his first-ever appearance on a college football field against Florida.
» Senior WR Ryan Swope (#25)…who has broken Texas A&M’s single-season receptions record in each of the last two years. He has 180 catches for 2,240 yards and 16 touchdowns over his three-year career and is closing in on school records in the first two categories. Swope had six 100+ yard receiving games in 2011 as well as four touchdowns in a single game against Baylor (11 receptions, 206 yards).
» Senior LB Sean Porter (#10)…who registered 9.5 sacks in 2011 and was chosen as First Team All-Big 12 member last season. Porter and junior DE Damontre Moore(#94) are part of a defensive unit that recorded a total of 51 sacks last year. Moore piled up 8.5 of his own with the duo combining to average 1.44 per game.
» Senior DB Dustin Harris (#22)…who led the nation in punt return average last season. Harris brought back 18 punts in 2011 for an average of 18.6 yards while also scoring one touchdown.

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