9/22: Florida vs. Kentucky post-game report

No. 14 Florida Gators football (4-0, 3-0 SEC) started slow but eventually blew past the Kentucky Wildcats (1-3, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, FL, shutting out the visitors 38-0 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. After the game, head coach Will Muschamp and sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel discussed the contest.

HISTORY / STREAKS / NOTES

» Florida has won 26-straight games against Kentucky, tying a SEC record for longest one-sided winning streak in league history. UF is 46-17 all-time against UK, 26-4 in The Swamp and 32-1 overall since 1980.
» The Gators are 7-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 8-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points.
» Florida is outscoring opponents 64-13 in the second half and 34-0 in the fourth quarter through four games in 2012.
» The Gators have outscored the Wildcats by at least 30 points in last five meetings.
» Florida registered its first shutout since Sept. 10, 2011 (Alabama-Birmingham) and first conference shutout since Sept. 29, 2001 (Mississippi State).
» The Gators have started the season 4-0 for the fourth-straight year.
» Florida won the time of possession battle by 15:22, more than a full quarter.
» UF nearly doubled UK in total offense (403-219) and more than tripled their opponent in passing offense (203-60).
» The Gators registered three interceptions in the second quarter, marking the first time the team has picked off three passes in a single quarter since Nov. 25, 2006.

INJURY UPDATES
Noticeably absent from Saturday’s game was junior running back Trey Burton, who Muschamp said at halftime had suffered back spasms on Friday and was held out of action. Muschamp expanded on those co
mments after the game.

“Trey Burton came in Friday morning with back spasms. We worked on him all day Friday, Friday night, into this morning. We did everything we could do but every time he planted on his right foot he had pain shooting up his right hip. That’s all it was,” he said.

Muschamp added that Burton did have some back spasm issues in 2011 but that the problem came out of nowhere on Friday and the staff had not seen any prior indications of him being unable to play.

Redshirt sophomore tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and junior defensive end Dominique Easley (knee inflammation) were both held out again though Muschamp specifically said he expects Easley to return against LSU on Oct. 6.

Junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder) and redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (shoulder) were both dinged up during the game with neither returning to the field after being hurt. Muschamp said Floyd had a stinger on his shoulder and should be fine while Reed was unable to regain full range of motion right away and sat out as a precaution.

Read the rest of what Muschamp and Driskel had to say…after the break!
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9/19: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made an appearance Wednesday during the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team and its upcoming game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday at 12:21 p.m. live on SEC Network.

INJURY UPDATES

The injury situation up to this point has not been as devastating for the Gators as it has been in years past though some key players are still on the mend and attempting to rejoin the team this season.

Muschamp announced Wednesday that redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins received a new hand cast for his broken thumb recently and has a very good chance of being ready to play against LSU after the bye week. “In eight days they’re going to pull the pin out of there and take another look at it, but he’s going to start lifting and running [Wednesday] as far as getting back into the swing of things, getting his body back. We’ll go from there,” he said.

The news was not as positive for junior defensive end Dominique Easley and fifth-year redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan.

Easley, who looked like he may have re-injured his knee (torn ACL against Florida State last season), did not do any major damage but still has swelling in the area and is “questionable” for Saturday’s game against Kentucky. Patchan (pectoral) continues to be out and Muschamp does not know when he will be back despite the fact that his injury was only expected to cost him a few weeks.

CONFIDENCE A HUGE FACTOR FOR FLORIDA

Starting the 2012 campaign with a 3-0 record including two big road victories against tough SEC opponents has been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Gators. Muschamp believes the team’s overall maturity, coupled with this confidence boost, is what has Florida rolling right now.

“Any time you win and have success it brings some confidence to you as a player. Confidence is such a key part of athletics,” he said. “When you feel good about something and you think positively about something. I always tell the players: A positive attitude doesn’t guarantee anything but a negative one does. Any time you’re negative or you think in a negative way, you’re not usually going to have much success. Our guys expect to play well. Our guys expect to win in every situation. That’s what you want in your program and that’s what happened around here for a long time. We got a lot of tradition in our program. Guys came here to Florida to play in games like they’ve played and they’ll play in again on Saturday at 12:21 p.m.”

Though the Wildcats are 1-2 with losses to Louisville and Western Kentucky and their sole win at home against Kent State, Muschamp said UF’s players have not begun looking ahead and are completely zoned in on this week’s game.

“My approach has always been every game counts as one regardless of the situation or circumstances of where you play or who you play,” he said. “That’s how we try to approach every game for that reason. I thought we had very good practice [Tuesday]. I thought we had really good tempo. Our guys went out and worked. We need to clean some things up, but I thought their focus was there. I thought they were tuned into what we were trying to do in the meetings and those sorts of things.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On if Florida has been trying to block punts through three games: “We’ve gone after one in every game and we plan to do so presented the situation. Had an opportunity against Bowling Green and Matt Elam barely missed it; I mean, got his hand right there – it was really close. I take that back. At [Texas] A&M I don’t believe we rushed one. We never were presented a situation. At Tennessee we did rush one and of course they changed and went to a rugby-style with the kicker. They didn’t even punt their punter against us because of the blocked punt from a year ago. They changed it up, which was a good play on their part. They were able to flip the field on us there. We went after open and weren’t successful on two situations.”

» On if he has more confidence now than he did last year in the wide receivers: “Certainly do, got a lot more confidence in playmaking ability and run after the catch and things that they’re doing. There’s a lot of things that goes into that. The number one thing that goes into that is we’re blocking well up front. I think it all goes back to our offensive line. We’re able to run the ball, which creates opportunities down the field. When you’re able to run the ball – you’re able to run the ball inside, you’re able to run the ball on the perimeter – it creates one-on-one matchups outside because people want to be able to load the box to stop the run. When you’re able to do that and those people can’t do those overload pressures and the different things they’re able to do because of the legs Jeff [Driskel] has and because of how we’re blocking up front, we simplify people also with our motions and shifts. We simplified some people defensively. I’m very pleased with the production obviously of Frankie [Hammond, Jr.]. Quinton Dunbar I thought made some big plays and blocks for us in the ballgame. Latroy [Pittman] and Raphael [Andrades] both played as true freshman. But when I talk in terms of wideouts, I always throw Omarius Hines and Trey Burton into that category as well. And then you talk about Jordan Reed and his production. And Andre [Debose] continues to come on for us. We just need to continue to give that group, collectively, moving forward [opportunities]. Solomon Patton has been huge for us as we’ve moved through the season here as far as some of the running things that Brent [Pease] has asked him to do. I think a lot of that is credit to Brent from the standpoint of finding out what the guys can do and let’s do what they do well. He’s put those guys in situations, to this point, to be very successful.”

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9/17: Muschamp, players discuss Florida’s win

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review his team’s dominant 37-20 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday in Knoxville, TN. He and some players also looked ahead to this week’s game as Florida hosts Kentucky on Saturday at 12:21 p.m. in Gainesville, FL.

INJURY UPDATES

Junior cornerback Cody Riggs (foot) and redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb) remain out with their respective injures though Muschamp expects to have an update on Jenkins (he may be able to play with a club on his hand if swelling goes down).

Muschamp also announced that junior defensive end Dominique Easley, who appeared to injure his knee in the fourth quarter on Saturday but was said to be fine after the game, has swelling in the knee and is currently day-to-day. Easley tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee last season against Florida State.

Finally, senior running back Mike Gillislee appears to be fine once again after carrying the ball 18 times on an injured groin. “He felt better after the game than he did before is what he told me. Everything we have from the injury report [Sunday] was very positive,” Muschamp said.

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Game: sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel and junior RB Trey Burton (Driskel was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Week.)

Scrap Iron: entire offensive line

Big Plays: redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. and redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (touchdowns)

Defensive Player of the Game: redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray

Hard Hat: junior defensive end Dominique Easley

Special Teams Players of the Game: sophomore punter Kyle Christy and redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis

Scout Team Players of the Week: freshman guard Jessamen Dunker, redshirt freshman walk-on defensive back Ben Peacock, freshman walk-on RB Mark Herndon

27-0 vs. 22-72

The biggest takeaway from the first three games of the season for the Gators is how well the team has played in the second half. Florida spent the entire offseason focused on being better conditioned and more mature late in games, which is evident by what the team has shown on the field so far this year.

Three of the four players that spoke with the media on Monday expressed that exact same sentiment.

“Over the offseason [Jeff] Dillman pretty much engrained that in our minds basically to finish out games. I think they had a score up from last year about the fourth quarter scores from us as far as our opponents. We just keep that in the back of our minds,” Hammond said. “We just want to outscore opponents and finish games. I want to say it was 72-22. Every workout we came into he reminded us. It stuck in our heads and we don’t want to have that score. I mean, it needs to be flipped around this season, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
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9/12: Quinn on freshmen, injuries, replacements

Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss a number of topics concerning his unit including how it is preparing for the upcoming road game against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at 6 p.m.

FRESHMEN CONTRIBUTING FOR GATORS DEFENSE

Four young players – linebacker Antonio Morrison, Buck LB Dante Fowler, defensive end Jonathan Bullard and defensive back Brian Poole – have been early contributors for the Gators on defense, and Quinn said Wendesday that each is on the field not out of necessity but rather because the coaching staff believes they can be effective.

“If we put them out there, we have confidence in them that they can get the job done,” he said.

Standing out the most is Morrison, an early enrollee who has turned the coaches’ heads all offseason and is moving into the starting role at Will this week now that redshirt junior Jelani Jenkins is sidelined with a broken thumb.

“I think it’s a big opportunity for Bo. When he came in as an early enrollee, he really had a maturity level that was not of a normal college freshman. He asked really good questions, wanted to be really on it in terms of the details of playing linebacker. I think that carried through in the spring and all the way to training camp,” Quinn said.

“Even though he’s a freshman, I don’t really see him in that way because I’ve known him, he’s been through the spring, he went through training camp. Although he is a freshman, I guess I don’t see him in that way more so because of the way he handles himself and his experience going through spring practice and training camp and then getting his experience in the first two games.”

Morrison is currently third on the team in total tackles with nine, eight of which are unassisted. He will have a huge opportunity this weekend though he may be relegated back to a reserve role if Jenkins is able to return from thumb surgery with a club on his hand for next week’s game against Kentucky.

“Sometimes on the injury and just when you have that, OK, how effective can you be? He’s got enough football instincts and that kind of stuff that I think he would be able to maneuver with one,” Quinn said of Jenkins. “You learn to play with it as you go forward. Sometimes you may have to play with it for four-five-six weeks and then even then, after a game or two, [you get adjusted and comfortable].”

THREE OUT, TWO IN

In addition to losing Jenkins this week, the Gators will be without junior cornerback Cody Riggs (fractured foot). Florida also learned that Powell will be forced to miss the remainder of the season after re-injuring his knee following surgery he had this spring after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

“He’ll take the redshirt year and come back,” Quinn said, confirming the statement that head coach Will Muschamp made on Monday. “What a strong attitude that Ronald Powell has. I’ve been very, very impressed with him…just in terms of his attitude and the leadership that he’s shown. Certainly a setback for him, but I have no doubt in my mine – none – that he will be back and stronger than ever.”

The good news for the Gators, however, is that the defense is getting two players back to help the secondary. Redshirt junior CB Jeremy Brown, who actually returned on Saturday against Texas A&M, was a bright spot for Quinn and someone who he knows can be counted on for the rest of the season.

“It was good to see Jeremy, number one, back in there,” he said. “For us, he had been out and then now that we’re getting him back I think you’ll get to see more and more of Jeremy as we’re moving forward. Experienced player who knows how to play. That is a huge value for our defense for him to be able to come back and add that to us. What a great story for him, too.”

Re-joining the team this week is sophomore DB De’Ante Saunders, who hurt his hamstring in fall practice but was also supposedly suspended for the first two games of the season (a notion not confirmed by team representatives).

“We certainly expect him to be a part of the package,” Quinn said of Saunders. “We had some DBs go down this past week. With Cody’s injury it’s going to certainly be a factor for him coming back in. we’re anxious for him to kind of get back in, get the feel and move forward right away.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the defense hoping to affect the quarterback now that they are facing a drop-back passer: “Generally you feel that way once you see more routes down the field and certainly that’s part of their offense where they’ll try to stretch the field some. They’ll also do some things protection-wise that maybe some other teams haven’t done where, at times, to try to use six or seven [players] to help in that way, too. A little bit of a balancing act for both sides going into the game but certainly a match-up we’re all looking forward to.”

» On the second half turn-around the team experienced on Saturday: “I was very encouraged to see that. I expected to see that.”

» On senior running back Mike Gillislee: “I’ve always been really impressed with Mike Gillislee. I thought he’s a very tough runner, thought he is really good between the tackles, and he is faster than you think on the plays that he bounces outside. [...] He’s certainly a guy that shows he has a nose to get in the end zone. Not all running backs scores a lot of touchdowns. Some guys gets stuffed inside but Mike is certainly one that, when it gets down closer to the goal line, he finds a way to get it in there.”

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Injuries pile up for Florida Gators: Jenkins, Riggs out; Powell re-injured; Gillislee good to go

One would think the news would be more positive for the No. 17/18 Florida Gators coming off a big win on the road against the Texas A&M Aggies, but head coach Will Muschamp actually spent most of his weekly Monday afternoon press conference delivering plenty of bad news as it pertains to his team’s health.

“We’ve kind of got a saying around here: ‘Man down, man up,’” he said.

Muschamp announced Monday that redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (broken thumb) and junior cornerback Cody Riggs (fractured foot) will both miss at least a month after being injured against Texas A&M.

Jenkins, who had surgery on Monday, will definitely be out at least for this week’s road game against the Tennessee Volunteers but may be able to return sooner than his timetable dictates if doctors approve a protective device for his hand.

Riggs, however, could be out as long as six weeks depending how his foot heals as doctors said he does not need surgery on the fracture.

Freshman LB Antonio Morrison will take over for Jenkins as the starter at Will, but the Gators will also see plenty of redshirt sophomore Michael Taylor in a reserve role at both inside positions. Junior Darrin Kitchens will also have a bigger role in the defense.

Defensive backs sophomore Jabari Gorman and redshirt freshman Valdez Showers both filled in for Riggs on Saturday and will continue doing so in the near future. Junior Matt Elam will likely transition back to playing much more safety while junior Jaylen Watkins, who moved into the starting cornerback role last week, will take over at nickel.

The bad news continued as Muschamp added that junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in April during the team’s spring game and hoped to return sometime in October, re-injured his knee while rehabbing and will likely miss the remainder of the season.

“He is being reevaluated next week. He has got some swelling on the knee. We took the MRI – probably a little too much swelling to tell really where he is right now,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to reevaluate him next week. Very disappointing for him. Really a setback as far as where he is and where we thought he would be at this point as excelled as his rehab has gone.

“Talking to him [Monday] morning and his parents throughout the weekend, more than likely Ronald will redshirt this year. It’s just disappointing for him, a guy that mentally has been a rock, just been amazing in how he’s handled the process. And again, he’s handled it very well. The diagnosis is not totally final yet; we want to look at it again next week. Certainly it has put a speed bump in the recovery process. Very disappointed for him and us.”

Not all was negative on the injury front.

Senior running back Mike Gillislee, who has four of his team’s five touchdowns this season and appeared to hurt his groin while scoring in the fourth quarter on Saturday, only “strained” the muscle and will be able to practice all week.

“He’s going to be fine. He’ll be fine for this weekend,” Muschamp said. “He’s going to practice [Monday]. We just had a staff meeting and they said he is going to practice, so I think he should be fine. We probably won’t rep him 40 times [in practice]. We’ll make sure he’s ready to go for Saturday [and] we feel like he’s fully available.”

Senior safety Josh Evans (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (cramps) are both good to go as well.

Florida will also get sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders (hamstring, suspension) and freshman tight end Kent Taylor (concussion) back for the Tennessee game though redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (strained pectoral) will probably be out until the bye week (at least two more weeks).

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9/8: Florida at Texas A&M post-game report

No. 23/24 Florida Gators football (2-0, 1-0 SEC) struggled in the first half but turned things around in the final 30 minutes and defeated the Texas A&M Aggies (0-1, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in both teams’ Southeastern Conference opener at Kyle Field in College Station, TX. After the game head coach Will Muschamp discussed what occurred on the field and in the locker room.

MUSCHAMP’s OPENING STATEMENT

“It was a good win for our team. The guys continue to fight hard and play the game and play it for 60 minutes. And it wasn’t always pretty – first half defensively. Third down was an adventure. You’ve got to give them credit. Johnny Manziel is a fantastic athlete. He’s a guy that really has got legs and he extended plays and made plays for them. You got to give him credit. A lot of off-rhythm plays, very difficult to defend. We did a better job in the second half of controlling the line of scrimmage. That was the difference. There was no magic potion. We came in and told the guys just to squeeze blocks, play thicker on blocks, quit running up the field. You get an illusion that these guys are a passing football team and really they’re not right now with Johnny. They’re a running football team; a screen, short, controlled passing game. He’s going to have high percentages in every game because of the throws that they’re making and asking him to do.

Offensively I thought we ran the ball extremely well. Obviously whether it was protection, holding the ball too long at the quarterback position or we had a busted route I know on one of the sacks where the ball should have gone – we got to get that stuff cleared up. A 3rd-and-1 late in the game was critical for us; we did not convert, which was very disappointing. But we ran the ball well, we stayed balanced in the game, and we moved the football. Coming into this environment, which is a pretty solid environment, I thought our guys responded well, hung in there and did what we had to do to win the game.

Guys, we’re going to have a lot of games like this now. It’s just who we are. We’re going to grind it out. We’re going to win. That’s what we kind of are as a mentality as a football team as we continue to grow and mature through the year.”

WINNING THE FOURTH QUARTER

SEC opponents outscored the Gators 72-22 in the fourth quarter during Muschamp’s first season in 2011. Florida was much better not only in the fourth quarter but in the entire second half on Saturday, coming from behind out of the break for the first time in Muschamp’s tenure (1-5). The coach undoubtedly noticed this improvement and praised his team for its efforts.

“The second half we just played more disciplined football. They were 0-for-6 on third down; we forced six punts. We did a nice job of flipping the field in some situations,” he said. “[We] really won the game on offense there at the end. When they knew we were going to run it, we ran it. We had to run it. The 3rd-and-1 [failure] was disappointing but other than that, heck man, when you line up and are able to run the football and people know you’re going to run it, that’s what you have to do.”

He continued, “Last year, I don’t know, man. I don’t know if we win this ballgame. As far as running the football when you had to [in order] to win. Making stops defensively when you had to. Doing the things you got to do to win football games.”

Muschamp said the biggest change defensively in the second half was the defensive line. Florida’s aggressiveness was hurting them as Texas A&M invited the rushers to run up the middle while Manziel hit the creases that were created by those actions.

“I told them, ‘I’m firing you if you run up the field again. Sit on the line of scrimmage, squeeze blocks inside and quit running up the field. That’s what you want to do. Just sit on the line of scrimmage and get your hands on people and play thick on people. If you’ll do that then we won’t have run lanes anymore.’ And we didn’t have any run lanes in the second half,” he explained.

Muschamp called the final possession the “happiest moment in Florida history for me – that and the Ohio State game,” noting that being able to run it successfully when your opponent knows that is your intention puts a smile on his face. He was also ecstatic about the victory as a whole, especially one coming in such a tough road environment.

“I told our team, ‘I’m not big into those sort of things.’ With all of our hospitality in the SEC, we’re trying to make everybody happy. Everybody wanted the glory story here with A&M and they didn’t get it. I’m very proud of our team to come in here, play well and do what we had to do to win the game,” he said.

“We played two games and we’re 2-0. That’s what you’re supposed to be.”

”I’M NEVER GOING TO…APOLOGIZE FOR WINNING”

Read the rest of the Florida-Texas A&M post-game report…after the break!

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Gators “gig” Aggies 20-17 in SEC initiation

It was a tale of two halves for the No. 23/24 Florida Gators on Saturday as they faced the Texas A&M Aggies for the first time in 35 years at Kyle Field in College Station, TX. Florida (2-0) struggled defensively in the first half but was dominant in the latter portion of the game, stifling Texas A&M (0-1) offensively and coming away with a 20-17 victory in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Senior running back Mike Gillislee led the Gators with 83 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries but missed most of the second half after seemingly pulling his groin on his second score. Joining him as an effective member of Florida’s offense was sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who made his first career start but still went 13/16 for 162 yards and made plenty of plays with his legs.

The Aggies’ offense was led by freshman QB Johnny Manziel, who was 23/30 for 173 yards and carried the ball 17 times for a net of 60 yards with a touchdown. Senior RB Christine Michael also chipped in 13 carries for 33 yards and a score for Texas A&M.

The Gators defense allowed 270 yards of offense and 17 first-half points but clamped down at the end of the game, holding the Aggies scoreless and allowing them to register a total of 64 yards of offense.

Florida’s defense looked dominant on the first two plays of the game, but a 16-yard rush by Manziel followed by a personal foul penalty on sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson gave Texas A&M the ball across midfield.

The Aggies then converted on a 4th-and-1 before being stopped in the red zone as junior safety Matt Elam and Roberson broke up consecutive fade passes. TAMU was forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal and take an early 3-0 lead.

The Gators answered back immediately with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive led by Driskel. He moved Florida down the field nicely, but UF was put in a tough spot when sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer was stopped short on 3rd-and-1 at the 16-yard line.

Florida executed a fake field goal run with junior running back Trey Burton, and a personal foul facemask added to the end of the play put the Gators in scoring position. Two plays later Burton took a Wildcat snap and handed it off to Gillislee, who tumbled into the end zone with 3:51 left in the first quarter.

Read the rest of the Florida-Texas A&M game story…after the break!

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

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