COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (CBSMiami) – Someone always has to be first and for the Texas A&M Aggies, the first SEC opponent they will face will be the Florida Gators on Saturday. It will mark the debut of the Aggies in the SEC against one of the most successful teams in the league.
The Aggies will be breaking in a new quarterback and a brand new offense. Head coach Kevin Sumlin spent the last few years at the University of Houston utilizing an Air Raid offense that racked up huge offensive numbers and was always pass first.
However, with a veteran running back in Christine Michael available, the Aggies may try to establish the run against a very stout Florida defense led by head coach Will Muschamp. The Gators allowed just 101 yards rushing on 27 carries in the opening game against Bowling Green.
Texas A&M hasn’t played a game this season after its opening contest was delayed due to Hurricane Isaac. So, Florida’s visit on Saturday will be the school’s first game of 2012 and first game as a member of the Southeastern Conference.
Texas A&M was admitted to the conference on July 1 after spending more than a decade in the Big XII. But, the Aggies drew the short-end of the conference stick when they were sent to the Western Division of the SEC. Missouri also joined the SEC and was sent to the Eastern Division.
That means Texas A&M will have to run the gauntlet of playing Alabama, Auburn, and LSU each and every season. But before the Aggies can start that journey, they must try to conquer a Gators team that has struggled offensively and with penalties over the last two years.
Muschamp has taken to making his players do up-downs in practice if they jump offside. But it’s not just the guilty party who has to do the exercise. If an offensive player gets flagged, the entire unit does it and the same goes for the defense.
Florida was penalized 14 times for 106 yards in the 27-14 season-opening victory over the Falcons. Florida ranked 114th in the nation in penalties last season, averaging 7.69 per game, leaving only seven schools in the FBS flagged more often.
When Florida had the offensive firepower to overcome those penalties it was one thing, but with a sputtering offense, the Gators can ill afford to give up any yardage.
The Gators did settle one position battle this week when Muschamp named Jeff Driskel as the team’s starting quarterback. Driskel is a better passer than Jacoby Brissett and in the first game of the season completed 10 of 16 passes for 114 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions.
Florida will be facing a crowd of more than 80,000 at Kyle Field in College Station Saturday. Kick-off is set for 3:30 and can be seen on ABC/ESPN.