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Official Game Thread Week 10: Florida Gators at Texas A&M Aggies 11/5/2022

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Escambia94

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You’re welcome. The Gators are undefeated when I am in attendance. I am taking donations now for a championship run next year.
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DRU2012

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So you WERE at the game!
THOUGHT I remembered you mentioning that coupla weeks back.
Looked (and SOUNDED) like a LOT of Gators showed for this one at Kyle. How was it?
Bet y'all weren't so sure it'd turn out so well at the end of the first half!
The surprising part was how the DEFENSE showed up and held the lead when the otherwise COOKIN' offense stumbled, fell short along the way on a day when for the most part both AR AND his playmakers had it going ON--yet they left seemingly crucial points-on-the-FIELD.
But that normally anemic Gator D somehow held the lead, made the difference when needed to step forward.
It may be reasonable to believe that this UF program under Billy Napier may well be ready to challenge the SEC Elite, and the very best of major college football, sooner than we may have thought over the course of this season so far.
We are starting to see that kind of forward progress, that kind of undeniable "culture shift" here now.
I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts on what you saw and felt FIRST HAND at the game today.
 

DRU2012

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I watched the Gators over here in Nairobi, Kenya and I am glad they didnt disappointment. That was a solid game. I hope we can build on this and keep it going.
THAT'S a "Gator Watch Party" I'd love to have made--the one in NAIROBI, KENYA!!!
Heck, that might have even beat sitting with the rest of the "visiting Gators" in Kyle Field today (like our own Escambia94).
Didja all break out the "Won't Back Down" chorus after the 3rd quarter?
Sorry, bra'--the TRUTH is that's about the most exotic watch location I've encountered...and I am truly envious.
How'd you like how, in one of the Gator offense's most balanced performances this season, it is the (deservedly) much denigrated Gator D that steps up in the 2nd half to save the day?
We are one step closer, one step AWAY from a much-needed season's extension in the form of the 14 extra practices a Bowl Game guarantees, along with the longer, higher profile that will give us on the all-important recruiting-trail.
So we are already on the verge of profiting from these "signs of life and progress"!
 

DRU2012

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Hey guys, happy to see the Gators win especially against Jimbo.
Yes--and to see the DEFENSE step up, actually save the day in the 2nd half...
I asked to see "progress", and that is exactly what we saw. Our Offense, led by AR on one of his better days, still left too many points on the field. It would have likely been "one more missed opportunity" had our porous FIRST half D continued in its habitually sloppy way.
It had already cost us leads and likely victories against the likes of at LEAST LSU, and possibly every loss except UGA (whom we could have at least STAYED with had the whole TEAM not taken the first half off against them)...
But not today! Now, the Gator team-to-BE will blow out teams from the start they are out-playing like this one was out-playing today.
We aren't that team yet.
But I am beginning to think we can SEE it from here.
 

DRU2012

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@Escambia94,
I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you for your first-hand impressions from today's game at Kyle Field.
You must have something to add here.
 

Escambia94

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@Escambia94,
I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you for your first-hand impressions from today's game at Kyle Field.
You must have something to add here.

aTm fans will point out that they were down 19 athletes due to the flu. I would counter that none of the missing 19 were pivotal players. Even the “starting QB”, Conor Weigman, would have been getting his second start. Haynes King regained the starting position today, but he already had several games of experience as starter. In short, the missing 19 players were not an issue.

In the first half the Gator offense flashed moments of brilliance. In person I could see what they were trying to do. If the players did their assignments better, these things would have worked better in the regular season. aTm runs similar plays that worked very well against Florida. It really is a talent issue and an execution issue first. One could argue that scheme can overcome those deficits, and I would agree to some extent except against elite level talent like aTm, Georgia, and LSU. The difference is in scheme adjustment during the game, which did happen today with defense.

A confident Gator team with key talent upgrades can beat anyone under Billy Napier. That is my opinion. We definitely need receivers to get open. We need more offensive linemen like O’Cyrus Torrence. Given the players we have, only FSU should give us trouble this year.
 

Escambia94

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This was my second trip to Kyle Field, with the last one being aTm vs UAB. The Gator Nation took over Kyle Field. The atmosphere was awesome. The last game I attended was the Sunshine Showdown last year. Even though we have 65 of the same athletes from last year, this team is very different. A confident Richardson is an excellent QB. The running trio of Montrell Johnson, Trevor Etienne, and Anthony Richardson is excellent (even if it takes a while to get going). When the defensive line gets going, opposing QBs need to get the ball out quickly. These athletes are too slow to stop a dual threat QB, but they are good otherwise. They did scare aTm’s best athletes, Devon Achane. That kid is explosive, but the Gators figured out how to stop him in the second half.

Overall, there are a lot of good things to take away from this team. I think Napier needs to upgrade the roster drastically in order to make his plan work.
 

Escambia94

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Didja all break out the "Won't Back Down" chorus after the 3rd quarter?

Interesting notes on Gator traditions:
- We were told to delay the “We Are the Boys” until the Aggies finished their 3rd quarter chants. I have never seen that before. Scott Stricklin was at the game, so maybe he made an agreement?
- The full band did not travel. They were great, but it was hard to hear them.
- The Gator crowd did their own short version of “I Won’t Back Down”, and later in the game the band struck up a short version of it. I am not sure if they just put that together or not, but it was cool.
 

DRU2012

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I was WONDERING about the effect(s) of that reported "flu outbreak"-- so you would maintain that our D's assertion of itself in the 2nd half was its own new-found determination and response to their Coaches' adaptive plans and emotional encouragement, and NOT simply the first string fading, out of sick-induced fatigue, right?
That's what I thought--and certainly HOPED as I watched it all unfold.
HUGELY encouraging improvement.
When they kept answering our scoring, along with the points left on the field throughout the game, and especially when we surrendered the lead again at the end of the half, our fully KNOWING they would get it back to start the 3rd quarter, I had that sinking feeling--CERTAIN that we would drop ever further behind from there the rest of the way.
But no: It didn't happen that way.
Our defense repeatedly stood its ground, got the ball BACK. What a RELIEF--our BALANCED offense getting (and KEEPING) THE LEAD again, our DEFENSE making sure it help up in the 4th.
A glimpse at that "Team-to-BE"?
With the very improvements you forecast, that could very well BE our future--and not necessarily "a distant one" at all! Even with Miami and others' outright NIL bribery (and I am not convinced that some of these kids in a certain way "disqualify THEMSELVES as Gator/NAPIER-material", revealing aspects of their personalities and potential selfishness that telegraphs a limited capacity for the kind of leadership and "team chemistry" that Napier himself--and some of the players who came over with him from Louisiana--have referred to as a substantial PART of his "way of doing things" that was MISSING here when they arrived), it begins to appear that with a Top Ten recruiting class THIS first full "trip" through, then an even BETTER ONE for 2024, in 2023 we will look more consistently like what we saw yesterday, and then full on challenge for CFB Playoff inclusion the year after.
If that does turn out to be an accurate projection looking forward, clearly we'll be FINE, RIGHT?
I don't think that is overly optimistic from where we're standing early on a postgame Sunday in 2022.
 

Escambia94

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There are multiple reports of a halftime speech firing up the defense. It was highly apparent that the defense was different in the second half as they pitched a shutout. The secondary closed the gaps in man coverage. The defensive front camped out in the Aggie backfield. They must have scared the crap out of Devon Achane or injured him, because Achane was no longer explosive in the second half.
 

Escambia94

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The missing Aggies:
*Bryce Anderson, Max Johnson, *Conner Weigman, *Ethan Moczulski, **Kent Robinson, **Kam Dewberry, Fadil Diggs, Deuce Harmon, Antonio Johnson, Adarious Jones, Denver Harris.

The ones with asterisks are experienced players. The double asterisks are the only season king starters lost due to the flu. Some of the players who got the flu were already injured or suspended.
 

Escambia94

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Looking at the Aggie depth chart, I only see one true starter that was lost due to flu, injury, or suspension. The Aggies were prepared to spin this loss before it happened.
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Escambia94

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One more thing: My wife just pointed out that we were sitting in front of the Etienne family. If you saw them on TV, I was the guy wearing a camouflaged Gator hat…and the orange and blue.
 

DRU2012

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There are multiple reports of a halftime speech firing up the defense. It was highly apparent that the defense was different in the second half as they pitched a shutout. The secondary closed the gaps in man coverage. The defensive front camped out in the Aggie backfield. They must have scared the crap out of Devon Achane or injured him, because Achane was no longer explosive in the second half.
You had to wonder about that; with a Coach like Billy Napier, I just assume he has that IN his quiver, ready to pull out at appropriate moments. The best such inspirational "lockeroom talks" are infrequent, for maximum effect and ONLY at rare "pivotal points".
And the Defense DID look different after the break. DRAMATICALLY different--and NOT just in scheme, clearly, but in drive and determination, peaking with those back-to-back 3rd down "meet-at-the-quarterback and strip him of the ball as he tries to throw it away" moments that amounted to the climactic protection of the lead for this (deservedly) up-til-now much-maligned Defense.
I was surprised, and PROUD of them!
 

DRU2012

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One more thing: My wife just pointed out that we were sitting in front of the Etienne family. If you saw them on TV, I was the guy wearing a camouflaged Gator hat…and the orange and blue.
I'm DEFINITELY going back for a peak (lol).
But the last thing I'll say here for now is to comment on "Gator Nation" clearly showing up, and SHOWING WELL at Kyle--enthusiastic, loyal, but with CLASS. In volume during play, and in support of the players, singing with them at the END of the game.
It LOOKED like, in addition to that crowd of Gators at one end of the field and stadium after the final gun, a certain portion of the Aggie faithful (NOT the cadets, mind you...Cue derisive, Nelson-like "HA-ha!") hung around to watch the enthusiastic happiness of the Gator faithful, celebrating a good win with their team!
 

DRU2012

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I'm currently watching the game-replay...We're in the 3rd quarter, our Offense just drove the field and came away with NUTHIN'!
Now the defense is finally stepping up: After forcing a punt after the Aggies FIRST possession of the 2nd half, the first of the back-to-back strip-and-recovers on 3rd down just happened.
Be nice if both offense AND defense could play well at the same time...but this D DOES finally do its job, shut the other offense down once ours staked them to the 10-point lead.
SECOND strip of the Aggie QB in a ROW.
Yikes--If we had BOTH units functioning at reliable efficiency, even this under-stocked, mistake-prone version of the Gator Football Team would be in every game to the very END!
I MEAN that:
It may not be that long before we are at the very least properly COMPETING here in the SEC after ALL.
 
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