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The Opening Kickoff: Gators vs. Texas A&M

October 12, 2017

The Opening Kickoff: Gators vs. Texas A&M

Florida hosts the Aggies for the first time in 55 years on Saturday night at The Swamp.

Scott Carter - @GatorsScott

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators suffered a hard-to-swallow 17-16 loss to LSU a week ago on Homecoming. The Tigers were supposedly reeling, losing at home to Troy the previous week to turn up the heat on head coach Ed Orgeron.

Instead of folding, they came into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and pulled out a win, one they desperately needed.

Fast forward a week and the Gators (3-2, 3-1) face a similar situation as they prepare to host Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday night, marking the Aggies’ first trip to Gainesville in 55 years.
 

45818 Florida is wearing its Nike-designed swamp green alternate Gator-themed uniforms Saturday. (Photo: Tim Casey/UAA Communications)

Gator Nation has been testy the past several days. You’ve heard the complaints. The offense needs to produce more. What’s up with those alternate uniforms? Losing to a team that lost to Troy the previous week is unacceptable.

That’s life week-to-week in the Southeastern Conference and now the orange & blue faithful want to see what head coach Jim McElwain and his team have for an Aggies team that lost 27-19 to No. 1-ranked Alabama last weekend.

Texas A&M has its issues, too, but the offense is running well and the defense is improving. The Aggies are trending upward. The Gators are trending downward.

Florida suffered not only a loss to LSU, but in its wake several key players to injuries. A team already short-handed could be minus more players.

McElwain isn’t interested in hearing what the Gators don’t have.

“Everything is still out in front of us,” he said. “How we approach that and how our guys choose to attack that is really going to be interesting. Like I said, I don’t care who is missing, there isn’t any of that. It’s the guys that we have, go out and execute, play your tails off, and that’s what has to happen.”

This is the second meeting between the schools since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012. The Aggies hosted the Gators in their inaugural conference game and Florida rose to the occasion with a 20-17 victory, slowing down freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel before he became known as Johnny Football.

Let’s take a closer look at Saturday’s game with The Opening Kickoff:
 

This. Happened. #GoGators pic.twitter.com/sKs4Lc2AV1

— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) October 13, 2017

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THREE STORYLINES
 

 
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THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
 

 
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THREE DIGITS
 
38 – Years since Gators have lost to a school from Texas (Houston, 14-10 in 1979). Gators have defeated West Texas State (1982), Houston (1995), Texas A&M (2012) and North Texas (2016) since.

3.83 – Sacks per game for Texas A&M’s defense, tops in the SEC and second nationally.

409 Team-leading rushing yards for UF true freshman Malik Davis.
 
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THE QUOTE FILE
 

 
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INJURY REPORT
 
OUT FOR SEASON: DB Marcell Harris (Achilles tendon); DB Garrett Stephens (knee). OUT: DB Nick Washington (shoulder), LB Nick Smith (knee), WR James Robinson (heart condition), QB Kyle Trask (foot surgery); DOUBTFUL: WR/QB Kadarius Toney (shoulder); QUESTIONABLE: WR Tyrie Cleveland (ankle), RB Mark Thompson (heel), DE Jabari Zuniga (ankle); PROBABLE: OL Brett Heggie (concussion protocol); DB Duke Dawson (illness); SUSPENDED: RB Jordan Scarlett, WR Rick Wells, WR Antonio Callaway, LB Ventrell Miller, OL Kadeem Telfort, DL Jordan Smith, DL Keivonnis Davis, LB James Houston IV, DT Richerd Desir-Jones.
 
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CHARTING THE GATORS 
 
The Gators are coming off a disappointing Homecoming loss to LSU that not only knocked Florida out of the national polls for the first time this season, but caused major unrest among the fan base.

UF has an opportunity to trend in a positive direction on Saturday night against the Aggies, who are coming off a loss at No. 1-ranked Alabama.

Last week’s defeat was Florida’s 10th in 32 games under third-year head coach Jim McElwain. The Gators are 6-3 under McElwain coming off a loss. A look at those games:

 OPPONENT/SEASON  RESULT  NEXT GAME  RESULT
@ LSU/2015 L 35-28 Georgia* W 27-3
Florida State/2015 L 27-2 Alabama** L 29-15
Alabama**/2015 L 29-15 Michigan*** L 41-7
Michigan***/2015 L 41-7 UMass (2016) W 24-7
@ Tennessee/2016 L 38-28 @ Vanderbilt W 13-6
@ Arkansas/2016 L 31-10 South Carolina W 20-7
@ Florida State/2016 L 31-13 Alabama** L 54-16
Alabama**/2016 L 54-16 Iowa^ W 30-3
Michigan^^/2017 L 33-17 @ Kentucky W 28-27
LSU/2017 L 17-16 Texas A&M ???

 
*@ Jacksonville; **SEC Championship Game; ***Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl; ^Outback Bowl; ^^Advocare Classic
 
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10 QUICK HITTERS
 

 
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THE OTHER SIDE
 
The Aggies are featured in a show called “The Pulse” each week during football season.

It’s a high-end production that brings Aggies fans close to the program. Real close.

Here is this week’s show leading up to the Alabama game and then after Texas A&M’s 27-19 loss to the top-ranked Crimson Tide:

[embedded content]

 
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WHAT THEY’RE WRITING
 

 
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BOTTOM LINE
 
I should be watching this one in my bed at home on Saturday night if Friday goes well. No, I don’t have a wild house party planned on Friday night. Instead, surgery for a recently discovered medical condition. The good news is doctors caught it early and the long-term prognosis is very optimistic. As for the Gators, their long-term prognosis will be more defined by what they do Saturday night against the Aggies. A win sets up a huge SEC East showdown against Georgia in two weeks. A loss and the Georgia game probably won’t matter nearly as much in the SEC East standings. I really thought the Gators would beat LSU and they lost. So, I think they will lose to Texas A&M, which surely means they’ll win.
 

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