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Gamenight- Gators try to rebound vs Texas A&M

Josh Ciganek

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Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

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.

Josh Ciganek is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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