Florida Gators versus New Mexico State Aggies Breakdown
- Date: Saturday, September 5, 2015
- Time: 7:30 PM
- TV: SEC Network
- Last meeting: 1994 Florida won 70-21
Meet the Aggies:
Head Coach: Doug Martin (4-20 in 2 years)
Conference: Sun Belt
2014 Overall Record: 2-10
2014 Conference Record: 1-7
Player(s) to Watch:
- Sophomore Running Back Larry Rose III. In 2014 Rose had 1,102 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. He also had 23 receptions and one receiving touchdown.
- Junior Wide Receiver Teldrick Morgan. In 2014 Morgan had 75 receptions for 903 yards and 7 touchdowns. He was also selected as a 2nd team wide receiver on the Sun Belt preseason All Conference Team.
5 Things To Know About New Mexico State:
1. New Mexico State enters Saturday’s game on a ten game losing streak. They have won five games in the last three years.
2. On defense New Mexico State gave up 309.9 rushing yards per game and 40 rushing touchdowns. Seven times the Aggies gave up 300 yards rushing in a game and three times they allowed 400 yards or more.
3. New Mexico State switched to an up-tempo offensive style in 2014 and the offense ranked 92nd in the nation with 24.5 points per game.
4. The Aggies -13 overall turnover margin ranked 116th in nation in 2014.
5. In 2014 the New Mexico State defense ranked 6th nationally in passing yards per game at 174.5. Largely in part to their abysmal run defense that ranked 125th in the country.
5 Things To Pay Attention To:
- Quarterback performance under the lights. Jim McElwain named Treon Harris starter for the game but said both quarterbacks will play. Though the decision surprised many, McElwain noted that he wanted a quarterback to affect those around him. Treon Harris played in eight games last season and started in six. It will be interesting to see his improvement as a passer, as that was a concern if he was a fit for McElwain’s system. Will Grier was thought to be the leader throughout camp, but Harris came on late and earned the starting role. We are not sure what McElwain will be judging on Saturday but this will be something that we pay attention to through the first month of the season.
- Offensive line protection and continuity. Don’t expect much pressure from New Mexico State. They only return three and a half sacks from a young and undersized line. The quarterbacks should have ample time to throw, if not, Florida could be in for a long season.
- Tight end’s role in the offense. Florida will be depending on Jake McGee and a group of young tight ends to provide a threat in the passing game. McElwain likes to use the tight end position in multiple ways. Look for them to split out wide and used plenty of shifts and motions
- Versatility of Brandon Powell. Powell will be a major x-factor in the Florida offense. He was moved to slot receiver in the spring and provides needed explosion for the offense. With the transfer of Adam Lane, Powell could also be used in the backfield. He will also see time on kick returns and punt returns.
- Defensive line pressure without Dante Fowler, Jr. Now that first rounder Dante Fowler has departed, Florida will need to find a dependable rusher off the edge. This may not be resolved this week with the suspension of Alex McAllister, but look for senior Jonathan Bullard and junior Bryan Cox, Jr. to bring the heat.
5 Things To Expect:
- Expect Florida to dominate in the running game. New Mexico State returns the majority of a defense that gave up 309.9 yards per game last year. With Florida breaking in a new offense they will lean on the running game and look to dominate an undersized New Mexico State front seven. Kelvin Taylor is looking to have a breakout year and true freshmen Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite will also see extensive time.
- Expect some mistakes from Harris and Grier in a new offense. Consistency was an issue during fall camp with both quarterbacks, so expect some errant throws and slight miscommunication. This will be Grier’s first time in a live game in The Swamp and we are not sure how he will respond. Also pay attention to how Harris adjust to taking snaps from under center and how he gets into his reads and goes through his progressions.
- Expect multiple interceptions. New Mexico State starting quarterback Tyler Rogers could be in for a long night against this Florida secondary. In nine games last year Rogers threw two or more interceptions. He totaled 23 interceptions on the season against 19 touchdowns. Rogers threw 11 interceptions on third down with a distance of six yards or longer. If New Mexico State does not stay out third and long that trend could pick up early for the junior quarterback.
- Expect big plays from Robinson and Powell. Demarcus Robinson and Brandon Powell will be a major focal point of the Florida passing attack. Both have shown ability to break off chunks of yardage and expect no different on Saturday. McElwain talked about having a ‘get it to’ list of players to put the ball in their hands, these two are definitely on that list and we should expect each to have multiple plays over 20 yards against an inferior opponent.
- Expect Florida to win. Florida should not have many problems with New Mexico State. Although Florida is breaking in a new offense they should not have any problem moving the ball, and Florida has the potential to be one of the top defenses in the country. Florida has won every home opener since 1989.
5 Keys To Victory:
- Start fast and build confidence on offense. Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier have had to rebuild the confidence of this team and especially the offense. It would not surprise me if the Gators came out aggressively and show the players and fan base that this team can be trusted to make big plays. Florida will need to start fast for their own confidence as well as gaining the interest of the fan base that wants to the see creativity return to Florida football.
- Dominate on 3rd down. Florida will need maximize opportunities defensively to get the offense much needed game reps. New Mexico State will bring an up tempo offense and hopes are that Florida can get them off the field quickly and put the offense in situations to be successful. If Florida is struggling to get the Aggies off the field it will be interesting to see how the Florida coaching staff adjust it’s offensive strategy.
- Finish red zone opportunities. Florida will get plenty of opportunities on offense and should have great field position the majority of the game. When Florida gets in the Red Zone they need capitalize with touchdowns. Last year Florida had 44 red zone opportunities and scored touchdowns on 26 opportunities
- Limit unforced mistakes including turnovers and penalties. In 2014 Florida ranked 101st in the nation with 6.8 penalties per game and 105th in giveaways per game. McElwain is determined to clean this up and keep Florida from beating itself. It’s the first game of the year and it will occur, but the plan is to limit mistakes and not give a lesser opponent any chance of sneaking up and pulling an upset.
- Create big plays early and often in every phase of the game. Against New Mexico State Florida will need to be intentional about creating big plays and running away with the game early. The butterflies will be there and the anticipation from the fans will be brewing. A great way to settle in is a play call the staff and offense is confident in or bringing some heat on defense to try to force a turnover or mistake from a mistake prone New Mexico State team.
5 Signs It Was A Good Day:
- The stat sheet has 40 plus points and 500 yards or more of total offense. This game is about Florida and how it executes in the three phases of the game. Under Muschamp Florida averaged 475 yards per game in season openers and 655 yards last year against Eastern Michigan. Season opening success does not always dictate the course of the season, but for this offense moving forward, getting off to a strong start will be important.
- Little to no injuries. Florida has been very fortunate during fall camp to not have any major injuries occur. Keanu Neal and Martez Ivey have been injured and should be back in a couple weeks. New Mexico State should not present a major physical challenge, so if Florida can get out of the game fairly injury free that will be very beneficial considering the lack of depth in multiple positions on the roster.
- Florida leaves the game confident with quarterback play. Although Harris has earned the starting role, McElwain has made it clear that both quarterbacks will play. If the Gators leave Saturday night pleased with the play of both Harris and Grier; the competition will go on into next week. The quarterback situation is very fluid. One quarterback could clearly separate himself in the competition and give Florida clear direction at the position heading in SEC play. It would be an absolute nightmare if both Grier and Harris struggle and more concerns raised about the position moving forward.
- No more than one sack from an offensive lining still gelling together. With a young and inexperienced line, Florida will need to gain confidence anywhere it can find it. Walking away from the game this weekend will be a building block going into next week with another chance to have a strong performance. The Aggies should not give Florida much trouble in the pass rush and the running game will have Florida in very manageable situations.
- Multiple big plays specifically from the wide receiver corps. What Florida fans have been yearning for is a dominant passing game that has wide receivers as the central focus. Coach McElwain stated Florida expects to play up to nine receivers on Saturday. One of those he is looking to step up is junior Ahmad Fulwood, who has the size and speed to be a matchup nightmare; his improvement as a receiver will take this offense to another level. Also, watch for true freshman Antonio Callaway to make a play or two, he has been impressive since arriving on campus.
The Prediction: Florida 45 New Mexico State 7
Treon Harris and Will Grier will both perform well enough to keep the competition going into next week. It will be no surprise at all but the Florida defense will dominate New Mexico State. In the end it will be the Florida running backs that will perform at a very high level.