CFN Instant Analysis
Florida 20, Texas A&M 17
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The Fun ‘n’ Gun is long gone. Welcome to the Ground ‘n’ Pound.
Texas A&M might have been flashier and more fun offensively, and it might have won the yardage battle, but Florida survived after getting beaten up, battered and bruised because of a tough running game, a great second half from the defense, and a fantastic performance from Jeff Driskel.
After not doing much of anything against Bowling Green to show that he absolutely, positively deserved to be starter ahead of Jacoby Brissett, Driskel completed 13-of-16 passes for 162 yards and ran for a key 21 yard dash late to all but seal the win. But more than anything else, he was able to keep his calm and cool in the most hostile of environments and come away with the win despite being under pressure all afternoon. He didn’t turn the ball over and didn’t make any major mistakes, and while the running game didn’t exactly break out, it was physical enough and effective enough to control the game. It might not be exciting and it might not be thrilling, but it worked.
Can it work against Tennessee?
The Gators don’t appear to have the firepower to keep up if the Vols start bombing away, but cranking out big yards isn’t going to be what this team is about. Mike Gillislee had a second straight excellent game, the defense was able to adjust with the back seven not giving A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel anything deep, and Driskel came of age. This is the new Florida, and while it might take some getting used to, coming out of College Station in the SEC opener with a win is impressive no matter how it looked.
If head coach Will Muschamp goes on to stabilize and elevate Florida, the program will look at College Station as the turning point in its evolution.
The Gators just won their biggest game since Urban Meyer was still in Gainesville, authoring an impressive comeback win in a very difficult venue. At halftime, down 17-7, Florida appeared as if it was destined to follow up a close call versus Bowling Green in the opener with an SEC loss at Texas A&M. The offense was sputtering, and the D was on its heels against rookie QB Johnny Manziel and the fast-paced Aggies offense. And then, voila, with a few halftime adjustments from Muschamp and coordinators Brent Pease and Dan Quinn, the visitors pitched a second-half shutout to capture an enormous victory.
In all likelihood, Florida isn’t winning the SEC this fall. Heck, even the East Division might be a reach. However, it learned a lot about itself at Kyle Field. The team is resilient, can win with a physical defense and running game and might be a step closer to finally settling the shell game that is the quarterback situation. True sophomore Jeff Driskel is a microcosm for the Gators program; no, he’s not quite there yet, but he did enough good things under extremely difficult circumstances to feel pretty optimistic about his future.
By Matt Zemek
This is how life can be in week two of a football season. Narratives change quickly, with the long march of time being ignored in favor of the easier, shorter view. Florida definitely gained a big pick-me-up with its win at Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon, but the buzzword of week two for just about every college football program is "perspective," and it should apply here, too.
In the first half, a flood of tweets expressed amazement at how great a job Kevin Sumlin was doing with the Texas A&M Aggies… this, after one and a half quarters of dominance against a Florida team rife with deficiencies. Yes, the play calling was bold. Yes, sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel looked prepared. However, it was only a quarter and a half, and Texas A&M didn't land anything close to a knockout punch in the first half.
Then came the second half, and suddenly, the narrative that dominated the Mike Sherman era in College Station came storming back to haunt AggieLand.
Florida put its big-boy pants on and silenced A&M with a defensive clinic. The Gators weren't particularly impressive on offense, but in the old SEC way of Bear Bryant, they minimized mistakes and not only locked the Aggies out of the end zone, but kept A&M from even sniffing a scoring chance. Give Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel credit for playing with a very level head in the face of game pressure, but if you want to emphasize the meaning of the word "pressure," it's what Florida's front seven shoved toward Manziel, who was lost throughout the final 30 minutes.
Texas A&M disintegrated in the second half. No new narratives just yet for the Aggies… and no Florida collapse, either. Kevin Sumlin might succeed and Will Muschamp might still fail, but let's let the season play out first.
By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb
Who says game tape is overrated?
With only Houston football tape from last year to study, the Florida Gators looked somewhat unprepared for the offense of new coach Kevin Sumlin and new quarterback Johnny Manziel. The speedy redshirt freshman introduced himself to the SEC with aplomb, leading what by any interpretation was a fantastic first half of Aggie football.
Manziel, the first freshman quarterback to start for TAMU on an opening day since 1944, led the Aggies to scores on all four first half drives, averaging double-digit plays on each.
However, in perhaps the best coaching effort of the young Will Muschamp era, Florida turned the tables after the halftime break. The Gators returned to Kyle Field with an impressive 10 play, 67 yard drive that reached down to the Aggies eight, and culminated in Caleb Sturgis' second field goal to cut the lead to 17-13.
Meanwhile, Florida’s defense sent its own message, clamping down on what had been an explosive TAMU offense and holding the Aggies to zero points in the last two quarters.
Many will want to talk about is the "same ol same ol" Aggies...unable to finish games…getting out-coached in the second half and losing their lead. But that simplistic observation doesn’t give this Gators team its due.
In the end, this game was a testament to Florida’s will; specifically, its players willingness to believe in its coaching staff.
READ MORE: Mitchell: Gig 'em Gators
By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN
The matchups of the two “new money” schools vs “old money” in the SEC are intriguing on many levels. It’ll take a couple of years at least until both Missouri and Texas A&M become embedded in the SEC culture, but it’s still fun to compare the two teams to get a feel of where the Big Twelve and SEC are/were within same arena.
On that note, this was a very entertaining game, but it’s hard to know whether the outcome was a result of Florida being pretty good, or Texas A&M not being worthy. It’s likely that both teams just aren’t that great.
Florida barely had a pulse in the first half and was lucky to still be in the game. Texas A&M--bent on showing the world that it could play with the SEC came out with guns blazing and exposed a soft side of Florida. The Aggies were more aggressive, looked faster (gasp), and made more plays.
Once things calmed down though, the Gators were able to get momentum and escape without the 12th man using a kill-shot. The Aggies simply looked gassed from being too high on emotion in the first half and flat-lined the rest of the game. Florida won, but the killer instinct of so many Florida teams of the past just isn’t there
One thing is for certain--the Aggies aren’t that far from playing with one of
the second-tier SEC schools. They’re not quite there
yet, but the climb is not that far.
By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball
Throughout the week, the topic of conversation centered on how Texas A&M and Missouri weren't ready for the SEC.
This afternoon's contest ought to bring that conversation to a close. The Aggies were clearly the more physical team, and actually outplayed the Gators for most of the first half. Few teams, especially those in the SEC East, have been able to say that over the past few years.
Unfortunately for A&M, this scene was a familiar one. Once again, the Aggies jumped out to a lead, only to watch it disappear in the second half.
Unlike last season's losses -- where the Aggies beat themselves in the final 30 minutes -- the credit belongs entirely to the opponent. Florida's defense took over the game in the second half, stuffing the run game, and keeping constant pressure on Johnny Manziel.
While it escaped with a win today, Florida still has a lot of work to do on offense before it's ready to compete with the likes of Georgia and South Carolina. Yes, Mike Gillislee turned in another solid performance, but the team only averaged 2.9 yards per carry. In addition, the veteran offensive line struggled with the speed of the A&M defense, which recorded a whopping eight QB sacks.
That won't get the job done against the big boys.
However, the fact that Florida still won the game speaks volumes about the toughness of starter Jeff Driskel, who managed to complete 13 of 16 passes. They would not have pulled out the "W" without him.