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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Saturday in the Swamp

Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

Freshman quarterback Kellen Mond has rushed for 266 yard this season. 

Coming off a hard-fought loss to No. 1 Alabama last Saturday, Texas A&M will look to get back in the win column as the Aggies travel to Florida to take on the Gators.
The Aggies (4-2, 2-1 SEC) gave the Crimson Tide their closest game of the season, and they will try to build on that momentum against Florida — a team that lost to LSU 17-16 last weekend.
“This team right now is very close. We’re just moving on,” wide receiver Damion Ratley said at Tuesday’s press conference. “We know we have to pick each other up, we know we have each other’s back and we just play for the man to the left and right of us.”
The Gators rank seventh in the SEC in total defense and don’t boast as intimidating a unit as they have in past years, but they have done a good job of buckling down in the red zone. Florida’s red zone defense has allowed the opponent to score only 73 percent of the time when they get inside the 20-yard-line, the best in the conference.
That ability to keep teams out of the end zone will be a challenge for the Aggies, as they have struggled in the red zone at times this season.
“For us it will be another challenge. They’ve been real stingy on defense and it’s going to take a really fine effort out of our team to go there and win,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Defensively they’ve been strong and they’ve scored enough points to win in different fashions.”
The Aggies, who played arguably their most complete game of the season in the 27-19 loss to Alabama, stressed they are not going to let that defeat affect their preparation for Florida.
“Every week we always say we reset,” linebacker Tyrel Dodson said. “That game’s over with, it’s done, and we’re moving forward.”
Dodson exploded for a career-high 16 tackles to go along with 2.5 tackles-for-loss against the Tide, anchoring a linebacker corps that continues to improve as the season moves along. The front seven will be put to the test against Florida, as the Gators possess a running back duo, Malik Davis and Lamical Perine.
Davis has topped the 90-yard mark in each of his last three games and the Gators have scored all 12 times they have entered the red zone so far in 2017.
“You don’t get to be one of the top red zone teams without having some sort of explosive power running and a guy that can throw it too,” Sumlin said of Florida’s offensive attack. “They’ve got a variety of guys that they can do some things with.”
The Aggies will once again rely on Kellen Mond to direct an offense that struggled to move the ball for much of the Alabama game, which is to be expected against the Tide’s suffocating defense.
“You’ve got a player who continues to get better, but you’ve also got players around him who continue to get better and help him,” Sumlin said. “I think every snap is a learning experience for him. Florida is going to throw a lot of different things at him.”
Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams will look to get back on track against a Florida defense that has surrendered over 150 rushing yards per game.
Ratley has emerged as one of Mond’s favorite targets. He hasn’t amassed a high volume of targets or receptions, but he is making them count to the tune of 22.8 yards per catch. He has made several big catches in key situations in recent weeks.
“Damion has always had the ability — he’s one of the fastest guys on this team,” Sumlin said. “He’s an example of what real confidence and maturity can do for you. He’s made a couple plays and the last four games he’s made at least one big play … We need him to continue to make big plays for us.”
Saturday will mark the first time since the Aggies joined the SEC that they will travel to Florida to play in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, nicknamed “The Swamp” and revered as one of the toughest places to play. The venue is not lost on the A&M players.
“I grew up watching Tim Tebow play at The Swamp,” Dodson said. “I’m excited to get in there.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

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  • Sophomore linebacker Tyrel Dodson had a career-best 16 tackles against No. 1 Al 

    Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

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