Florida has gotten off to a hot start in 2020, winning their first two games by double digits. Such a start has been made possible by the stellar play of the offense led by a couple of phenoms named Kyle. This week, one of the Kyles will be returning to his home state, and indeed, the very field for which he is named.
The Gators will be taking on the Aggies of Texas A&M at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Typically, the Twelfth Man is a raucous and intimidating venue but a limited capacity crowd will make it a little less so on Saturday. Despite the exceptional play of the offense, Florida enters the game as a mere 6.5 point favorite. This is mostly because of a defensive performance that has been less than perfect thus far. In fact, at times, it hasn’t even been good.
Florida yielded over 600 yards in their first game of the season, often missing tackles, failing to provide adequate pressure on the quarterback, and playing way too soft in the secondary. Although they showed improvement in last week’s game against South Carolina, they still gave too much cushion to the Gamecocks’ receivers and struggled to contain the run for much of the game.
Fortunately, they will be facing a team with an equally susceptible defense this week. Particularly, in the secondary. The Aggies’ safeties found themselves consistently out of position against the Crimson Tide and A&M gave up 435 yards through the air, as a result. These weren’t dink and dunk type passes either. No. Mac Jones was able to torch A&M’s secondary to the tune of 21.75 yards per completion and 4 touchdowns. This plays right into Kyle Trask and the Gators offense’s strengths.
However, the Aggies do have an impressive defensive line and Florida’s much improved offensive line will be tested on Saturday. They will need to dig deep to open up lanes for Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis. If the Gators are able to establish a running game to set up the play-action pass, it will be a long day for the home team.
On the defensive side of the ball, Florida showed a little more of a pass rush against South Carolina than they did in week one. However, they will be going up against a much better offensive line in College Station. If Brenton Cox Jr., Gervon Dexter, or Tedarrell Slaton can get even a little bit of pressure on Aggies’ quarterback, Kellon Mond, it could be enough to rattle him.
Mond has been average at best, through two games this season, completing just 58% of his passes for 7 yards per attempt. When facing third and long, Mond drops well below average, with a completion percentage of just 37.5 percent with an average of 5.9 yards per attempt. Couple that with the fact that the Aggies have yet to establish a “go to playmaker,” and things could get pretty dicey.
The key to Florida winning this game is for the offense to never take their foot off of the gas and for Todd Grantham to dial up some exotic blitz packages. Grantham’s signature style has seemed relatively tame up to this point but that’s largely due to the fact that the Gators have so much youth on that side of the ball. With Marco Wilson returning to the Star position this week, I expect Grantham to have some disguised coverages and a few unique blitz packages at his disposal.
The game is set for a noon broadcast on ESPN which means that they will kickoff at 11 a.m. local time. Despite the early kick and the -6.5 spread, I believe Florida will leave Kyle Field with their third victory of the season. Gators win, 35-24.