After a disheartening upset to LSU last weekend, the Florida Gators will once again host an SEC opponent this Saturday. SEC West opponent Texas A&M will be coming to the Swamp for the first time since 1962.
This is the fourth overall meeting between the schools and the first since 2012, when the Gators defeated the Aggies 20-17 in College Station, TX.
Gators fans do have something rather interesting to look forward to for Saturday’s matchup. Florida will be wearing their new alligator inspired uniforms against the Aggies at night.
As Florida prepares for Saturday night, they will be looking to focus on one of their strengths the past two weeks: the running game. Led by Lamical Perine and Malik Davis (above), the Gators have rushed for almost 350 yards and 7 touchdowns. Perine has run exceptionally well, accounting for 5 of those touchdowns and becoming the first Gator since Mike Gillislee to rush for two touchdowns in back-to-back games.
He also is the first running back since DeShawn Wynn in 2005 to rush for three touchdowns in one game. With the ground game finding its feet over the past two weeks, head coach Jim McElwain should continue to utilize his strengths.
Texas A&M, however, has been particularly strong on their run defense all season, except for their games against Alabama and Arkansas. In four of their six games this year, the Aggies have held opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground. Led by linebacker Tyrel Dodson and cornerback Armani Watts, this Aggies defense has been able to stop opponents through the ground and the air. Dodson leads the team with 46 tackles and two interceptions. Watts leads the team with 3 interceptions as well as having 44 tackles and forcing and recovering a fumble.
Though the Aggies have a solid defense, the Gators defense has come alive in recent weeks. Last week, the Gators recorded its first three interception game against a league opponent for the first time since their 2016 game against Kentucky. Duke Dawson, C.J. Henderson, and David Reese have played an intricate part in the Gators defense. Henderson became the only true freshman in UF history to return an interception for a touchdown in consecutive games.
Henderson is only two pick-sixes away from tying Brandon Spikes’ single season record for interceptions return for a touchdown. Dawson and Henderson are tied for interceptions on the team at two apiece.
With both teams looking to avenge their losses from last week, the Gators will have a tough SEC challenge on their hands. Dressed to emulate alligators, Florida will need to play aggressively as well.