Hammond Sees Advantage for Florida

When Louisiana Tech cancelled its season opener against Texas A&M, the speculation started immediately. The Aggies were set to open their SEC season against Florida in week two with their first game under their belt. Hurricane Isaac changed that. The Gators now have a game of film on tape for the Aggies to see, but receiver Frankie Hammond thinks the Gators have the advantage.

"At least having a game lets you be more comfortable at game speed and in game situations," Frankie Hammond said. "It's a little bit of an advantage because they have film of us, but at the same time, this is their first game. They'll have to break in and get in that game speed."

There's a different feel around Saturday's game. Florida players and coaches usually downplay the importance of every game, calling it just one of 12 in the regular season. That wasn't the case on Monday. Head coach Will Muschamp wasn't shy in talking about the game and its importance.

The players did the same. The mantra throughout the offseason was to get off to a fast start. After sputtering through the season opener, the Gators have a chance to change that this weekend in College Station.

"It's very important," Hammond said. "We start our SEC stretch with the game, so we need to get off to a great start and keep it rolling from there."

The Florida upperclassmen will spend the week talking to the freshmen about what to expect, but this is a different situation for even a senior like Hammond. None of the players on the team have played at Texas A&M, with the program joining the SEC for this fall, so there isn't an idea of what to expect.

When the Gators go to Knoxville next weekend, veterans can talk about Neyland Stadium and the Tennessee orange that fills the stands. No one is sure what will happen this weekend, but the older players are trying to help the freshmen understand how important communication is on the road.

"Stay focused," Hammond said about his message to the freshmen. "Going into that stadium, I'm pretty sure it's going to be loud. Get communication down. I started talking with those guys today to focus on the details. When you're in the huddle, you might not hear certain things, so keep your ears open and make sure you stay locked in."

The offense should have some more creativity this weekend, too. After Muschamp overruled first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease against Bowling Green and forced him to run the football, the Gators are expected to open up the passing game in College Station. Hammond and the Florida receivers did their best to stay in the game and block as Florida ran the ball two-thirds of the time on Saturday.

"They wanted to run the ball," Hammond said of Muschamp. "They wanted to establish the running game. I felt like we got that done. From a receivers' standpoint, you want them to throw the ball every down, but we understand that's not the game of football. The coaches wanted to establish a running game, and that's what we did.

"We attacked as much as we could. We established the running game and that's what coach wanted to do. We pounded it and pounded it."

The hope, especially for the receivers, is that the run game Florida displayed against Bowling Green will open things up through the air.

"I'm sure it will," Hammond said. "That's the whole key thing. Once you expect the run game and put eight guys in the box, it gives us man coverage for plays downfield."

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