1) Johnny Manziel Lives Up to the Moment
We'll start with the obvious. In his first collegiate action, can the redshirt freshman play with poise and control under the national spotlight having been thrust into the biggest game at Kyle Field in over 25 years? If he does, I think A&M wins this game at home. Nobody would blame him if he had a few hiccups, but Aggies REALLY want this game and he knows it. The other big question is how will he react to live action. He hasn't gotten hit in practice with QB's wearing the black non-contact jersey. Also, with practice rules of down by touch, we haven't seen his true ability to scramble. Add in the new offensive scheme and even those of us who have watched practice this fall simply don't know what to expect from Manziel on Saturday.
2) Front Seven Contains Florida Ground Game
It is critical for the Aggie front seven to contain the Florida rushing attack. It's no secet that Florida's downfield passing game has struggled for a couple of years now. On Saturday, QB Jeff Driskel had a decent outing, but the few times he threw the ball downfield, he struggled with target identification and accuracy. Thus, the A&M defense needs to force Driskel into these situations, which means create some 3rd and long scenarios, and allow the safeties to play back in coverage to confuse Driskel with different coverage packages. If A&M must cheat up the safeties to stop the run, then Driskel can attack the man coverage on the outside which allows Florida's receivers to use their athleticism to make plays against one cornerback. That basically takes away Driskel's weakness in reading defensive coverages.
3) Line Wears Down Gator Defensive Front
I think A&M will try to establish the run, despite the passing label on this offense. Bottom line, the talent on offense is concentrated in the offensive line and running back. Texas A&M will need to establish some kind of success in the running game. I don't think they need to puncture Florida with a series of long runs, but they do need to move the chains and wear down the defense in this hurry-up offense. Let veteran Christine Michael do the dirty work and hard lifting in the first three quarters, and then unleash a fresh Trey Williams on a softened and tired Gator defense. That's where A&M can get those long, explosive plays. IF that happens, A&M has a good chance to win.
4) DeVante Harris and Deshazor Everett Play Big
These two defensive backs were the big playmakers in fall camp. However, both are young and inexperienced, especially the 18 year-old true freshman Harris who is sure to be star-struck and overwhelmed by the national spotlight. The key will be to play under control and not be too aggressive on play action fakes. You see it all the time in a big game where the defensive back bites on a fake looking to make a huge play early in a game and it backfires. If the young but talented cornerbacks can avoid these fatal mistakes and limit explosive plays in the passing game, the advantage shifts to the Aggie defense and a win in more likely.
5) Ryan Swope Leads the Passing Game
The receiving corps had a solid fall camp, but nobody really stepped up to be that go-to guy in the scrimmages. Ryan Swope is the logical choice to serve this role. He's a veteran senior that has been in these games for several years. If he takes it upon himself to be the primary target and Johnny Manziel feels comfortable in looking to Swope, I think that simplifies Manziel's job in this game. He'll need help in this first game, and Swope has the talent and experience to be that guy. |If he has a big game and bails out Manziel in some scrambles out the pocket, I think A&M can have a lot of success offensively.
6) Win Turnover Margin
I put this key into every game analysis content piece I write. Why? Because it's true. Statistics are very clear. The team that wins the turnover margin has a huge advantage in winning the game. A&M must play a clean game and limit turnovers, even if that means dialing back the game plan for Manziel's first collegiate start. Win the turnover battle and the Aggies will win the war.
Keys to Victory - Florida Game
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