Through two games, the fourth-ranked Florida Gators have done just about anything they wanted on offense.
Their defensive performance is another story. They’ve given up 942 yards and 59 points in two games this season, and they’re looking to fix that on Saturday when they visit No. 21 Texas A&M.
“These past two weeks have been unacceptable for me, personally,” linebacker Amari Burney said. “You know, just talking with the coaches, my parents, watching film, it’s been unacceptable on my part just being a starter and not doing my job.”
The Gators (2-0) have been especially unhappy with their inability to get off the field consistently on third and fourth downs. Teams have converted 15 of 31 third-down attempts against them and 5 of 7 fourth-down opportunities.
“You can’t get complacent when the offense is scoring so many points and then we don’t stop them on defense,” Burney said. “The defense has to go out there and start making stops instead of just giving the team life back and let them score on us.”
Florida’s defense has allowed an average of 327.5 yards passing a game and will now face Texas A&M’s veteran quarterback Kellen Mond, who is coming off a 318-yard passing performance in a loss to No. 2 Alabama.
“It starts with the quarterback, I mean, because we played this quarterback … when I was at Mississippi State,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “Just looking at the development of the quarterback and the way (coach) Jimbo (Fisher) has developed quarterbacks over the course of his career, you can see that they’ve really improved him from that standpoint.”
Mond and the Aggies (1-1) will try to get back on track after the 52-24 loss to the Crimson Tide. Fisher faced criticism for Texas A&M’s poor performance against Alabama in his third season with the Aggies after signing a 10-year, $75 million contract.
“We feel the progress is there,” he said. “But until you win them all, you’re never satisfied.”
KYLE AT KYLE
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask has never been to an actual game at the place that bears his name. Trask’s parents, both Texas A&M graduates, named their son after century-old Kyle Field.
Trask grew up in Manvel, about a two-hour drive from College Station. He played behind former Houston and current Miami standout D’Eriq King in high school and then waited four years to get his shot with the Gators.
“There’s always a chip on my shoulder just because … no one gave me a chance in recruiting,” said Trask, who didn’t get an offer from the Aggies. “I kind of just came in with a chip on my shoulder to whatever program I came into to just try to prove myself.”
FISHER VS. FLORIDA
This will be Fisher’s first meeting with Florida as Texas A&M’s coach. But he has plenty of history against the Gators, going 7-1 against them in his time at Florida State.
He recalled the in-state rivalry this week.
“At times at Florida State when I played them, we were all ranked in the top 10 two or three times we played them,” Fisher said. “Florida has always had really good players, had some really good years when I was there. We had some success against them, and we had a really good team and had built our program up.”
Florida coach Dan Mullen wants the Gators to finish games better.
They could have put Ole Miss away in the opener but kicked three consecutive field goals in the second half, including two from inside the 20-yard line. Last week against South Carolina, Florida threw an interception and went three-and-out on back-to-back drives in the fourth.
“Finishing is a big thing for us,” pass rusher Brenton Cox said. “As the season goes on, we’ll connect, we’ll come together, we’ll come together for the win. I mean, the first two games, it’s always tough for any team. And I feel like we’ll get it together.”
Mond needs 125 yards passing on Saturday to pass Jerrod Johnson (8,011) for most yards passing in school history. The senior has already set Texas A&M records for completions (655) and attempts (1,153). He has 23 wins in his career and a win on Saturday would tie him for fourth-most by a quarterback in school history.
AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this report.
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