The losing streak for the Aggies has now extended to four in a row as Texas A&M’s overall record drops to 3-5. It’s been a very rough season for the Aggies and now it will be a fight just to become bowl eligible as the Aggies will need to win three of their last four. With currently 10th-ranked LSU looming large at the end of the year, this weekend’s meeting with Florida would appear to be a must win. Let’s talk about what the Aggies need to do up front to take down the Florida Gators.
The offense has struggled all season in 2022. A large part of that has been the offensive line struggling to protect the quarterback. The offensive linemen still struggled to protect Conner Weigman at times but for me, this was their best performance of the season and I think that showed on the stat line. The true freshman QB threw for 338 yards against Ole Miss - though he was sacked twice. Devon Achane managed a respectable 138 yards on 25 carries, averaging 5.5 each time he was handed the ball and I thought the line excelled in that facet of the offense creating gaps for Achane to run through.
In Florida, Texas A&M draws another defense from the bottom half of the conference as the Gators average 445 yards allowed per game. Florida has struggled to stop opponents rushing attacks throughout the year including allowing 239 yards to Georgia last week at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Texas A&M will need to create gaps against a Florida defensive line that is anchored by 6’5” 415lb Desmond Watson at defensive tackle. What I really want to see out of this unit is continued improvement from last week’s performance - especially out of true freshman Kam Dewberry at left guard. As the youngest member of this position group, he should continue to get better as he gains experience and I’m looking for him to shine against a Florida defense that hasn’t been strong up front.
For as much as the offense appeared to take a step forward last Saturday, the opposite could be said for the defense - especially in the run game. With Quinshon Judkins going for over 200 yards and Jaxson Dart tacking on 95 yards of his own - including several long third down scrambles to extend drives - the Aggies have some serious issues to address. I think a mix of scheme and execution was to blame - for much of the contest DJ Durkin appeared to be running a 4-1-6 defense. While safety help was walked into the box, I think the challenge of fitting the run with only one linebacker was too much for the Aggie defense. Ole Miss didn’t have a ton of success running the ball up the middle but on the edges there were several times where creases were created and Judkins was able to break off big runs. Unfortunately for the Aggies, the challenge doesn’t get any easier against Florida.
In Florida, Texas A&M faces another opponent that will attempt to establish dominance in the run game. With the Gators averaging just shy of 200 yards per game on the ground - quarterback Anthony Richardson has been a major part of this Gator rushing attack, something that has to be worrisome given the struggles the Aggies had against Jaxson Dart last week. Richardson ranks higher on the mobility scale in my opinion which will force Texas A&M to change the way they attack up front. The Aggies pass rushing group led by Fadil Diggs will need to be more conservative in order to keep Richardson contained. I’d expect Durkin to employ a spy as well just in case Richardson does try to break the pocket. Of course, none of this will matter if Texas A&M doesn’t improve run fits and slow down Florida on the early downs but either way, how Florida’s rushing attack works will determine how this game goes. If Texas A&M can’t slow down Richardson and company, Aggie fans could be in for a long Saturday.
While Gainesville is certainly not the picturesque piece of Florida that some folks picture when they think of white sand beaches and clear waters - it is certainly still Florida and calls to mind for me tropical drinks and relaxation. With this in mind I wanted to talk about one of the more interesting bites of barbecue I’ve had in the last year. Up in the Addison area of DFW is Cattleack Barbeque, a Texas Monthly Top 50 joint and a delightful stop - though they often have lines due to their delicious food. The beautiful piece of meat you see above is the Tequila Sunrise Pork Belly Rib - a tropical drink in smoked meat form. The pork belly rib (or PBR) is an incredibly rich cut of meat but the citrus from the drink flavoring cuts through the richness in a surprising and tasty way. It’s a delicious and unique bite of barbecue and something I felt appropriate to share with our opponent this week hailing from the Sunshine State.