Ten Most Critical Performers for Victory

The most anticipated A&M game in 25 years is only two days away and there are still many questions about this Aggie team. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop looks at the ten most critical players that will need to step up if A&M expects to beat the No. 23 Gators.

Yes, and this is in order of importance for a win in Saturday's SEC opener.

1. Johnny Manziel

I don't think I need to explain this one. It all starts with Johnny Football. If he comes out poised and mistake-free, I think A&M wins this game and wins it by more than one score. If he tries to do too much outside the pocket and makes mistakes, it will be a long day at Kyle Field.

2. Jonathan Mathis

I know he's not even officially listed as the starter, but once he knocks the rust off he's clearly A&M's best interior DL. This defense needs him to play up to his pre-injury performance level at a position that is desperately low in experienced talent.

3. Spencer Nealy

See above. Nealy is a bit undersized moving from strongside defensive end to tackle, but he's also the most active and most emotional player along the front line that has played for four years. He won't be able to go 100% of snaps, but if he can be effective taking 70% of the snaps, A&M's chances to win go up significantly.

4. Christine Michael

Yeah, Trey Williams grabbed most of the headlines this fall, but Christine Michael has been there and done that on the big stage. He's a veteran senior and he has to be the workhorse of this running back stable.

5. Steven Campbell

He's such a physical player at safety with incredible athleticism and talent. A&M must have him on the field for his physical presence. Otherwise, the next option for the staff is a big step down, and A&M needs every ounce of size and athleticism on the field against Florida. A productive Campbell stabilizes the secondary.

6. Damontre Moore

A&M needs a signature pass rusher, and for now that person must be Mr. Moore. He has been hot and cold his entire career at Texas A&M heading into his third season. For A&M to rattle and shutdown gator QB Jeff Driskel, Moore will need to be hot and disruptive on Saturday. If he's focused and making plays, this defense transforms into a national caliber unit.

7. Jonathan Stewart

Stewart has slowly developed into a solid middle linebacker. He'll need to be more than solid on Saturday as I'm sure the center of A&M's front seven will be challenged early and often by RB Mike Gillislee and the Florida offense.

8. Devante Harris

He's been the buzz of fall camp and he will be a special cornerback when it's all said and done. But the reality of the situation is that he's a true freshman starting in the most highly anticipated A&M game in over 25 years. He will run out onto Kyle Field for the first time on national TV. It's only natural for an 18 year-old to have a little "deer-in-the-headlights" syndrome. He will make some mistakes. The key will be to minimize those mistakes and hopefully they will come on 10-yard sideline routes and not a fly pattern on a play action fake that would result in a touchdown.

9. Patrick Lewis

He's the engine of this hurry-up offense. The unit goes only as fast as Lewis can get lined up and the call made. Also, Lewis started his career with a bang as an impressive freshman. He's had a good career, but he needs to step forward to have a great senior season if this offense is to live up to expectations. That starts Saturday on Kyle Field.

10. Trey Williams

Trey Williams could be the wild card on Saturday. Christine Michael will get the start and will get most of the snaps against Florida. However, Williams is such an electric playmaker and Florida will have limited intel on the true freshman. He is primed to make some big plays. I also think Williams could be special on kick returns if the staff wants to use him, but with Brandon Williams' hardship waiver denied, you have to wonder if the Coach Sumlin will use Trey on special teams. They must keep him healthy with the issues of depth at RB.

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