Two teams struggling with the weight of expectation meet on Saturday in College Station as the 3-5 Texas A&M Aggies host the 4-4 Florida Gators. Both are 1-4 in SEC play, and both are in huge need of a win.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys to a Texas A&M victory:
Run Defense Needs to Step Up
The Aggies’ run defense has been brutal in 2022. Last week was the low point, with Ole Miss carving them up for 390 yards on the ground. They allow a miserable 4.8 yards per carry, which is No. 116 in the country. This futility allows teams to sustain drives, meaning that A&M – a school at its best is a tempo-controlling side – has barely dictated the pace of a single game this season. Florida is a bad matchup here. The Gators have three rushers averaging at least 6.0 yards per carry – Montrell Johnson Jr. (6.4), Anthony Richardson (6.2), and Trevor Etienne (6.0) – and if the Aggies don’t slow that trio down, then it is hard to see how they produce enough offense to win.
Protect the Football
The Gators’ defense has always been an explosive and opportunistic unit. This is true again in 2022, with the Gators tied for No. 2 in the SEC and No. 11 in the Power 5 conferences with 14 turnovers gained on the season. They will find a way to get a turnover – they have had at least one in each game – but the key will be not allowing multiples that change the game’s outcome. A&M doesn’t have the explosiveness to make up for big mistakes right now.
It’s Connor Weigman’s Show
The quarterback position has been an issue this season. The Aggies may have finally found an answer with freshman Connor Weigman slinging the ball. Weigman was 28 of 44 for 338 yards in his first college start last week and instantly provided an upgrade on what came before him. The issues with the passing game haven’t all been the fault of the quarterbacks – the line is erratic, and the wide receivers aren’t getting separation – but another stellar showing from Weigman will give the Aggies a chance.