Three questions for the Floridspan Gspantors heading into their game Saturday at Texas A&M (noon, ESPN):
Can Florida get off to a quick start offensively?
The Gators scored just three points in the first half against an elite Georgia defense. More opportunities should come early against a Texas A&M defense that ranks 8th in the SEC in total defense, giving up 376.0 yards per game. Florida is 2-2 when it scores first this season.
Watch the game:Floridspan Gspantors footbspanll vs. Texspans A&spanmp;M Aggies: How to wspantch on TV, strespanming, lspantest line
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Can Florida’s defense show signs of improvement?
The Gators have allowed an average of 43.5 points and 541.5 yards per back in back-to-back losses to LSU and Georgia. The Gators played more man coverage against Georgia and forced three turnovers but still surrendered 42 points and allowed the Bulldogs to convert 6 of 12 third-down attempts.
For the season, Florida is allowing opponents to convert 52.29 percent on third down, which ranks 130th in FBS out of 131 teams. Missed tackles have hurt the Gators in recent losses against LSU and Georgia.
“Guys have to get out the stack and run to the ball,” Florida defensive lineman Princely Umanmielen said. “If one guy misses a tackle then another guy should just be right behind him to get that tackle. If everybody is running to the ball and even if we have someone missing tackles it should be another guy there every play. We work on tackling drills and things like that every week.”
Will Florida kick to dangerous Texas A&M return man Devon Achane?
Achane already has a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown this season. He’s capable of making big plays in the return game with his speed and instincts.
Five years ago, Florida made the mistake of punting to another dangerous Texas A&M return man, Christian Kirk, whose 43-yard punt return in the fourth quarter set up a go-ahead field goal that gave Texas A&M a 19-17 win over the Gators at The Swamp.
Florida CB Jason Marshall Jr. vs. Texas A&M WR Evan Stewart: The speedy freshman Stewart has a team-high 478 yards receiving and made his second TD catch of the season last week against Ole Miss on a 15-yard strike from fellow freshman QB Conner Weigman. It will be up to Marshall and the rest of the Florida secondary to keep Stewart out of the end zone and limit his big plays.