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Saturday, September 8, 2012
Battle of first-time starting quarterbacks

By Chris Low

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- While all eyes will be on the two quarterbacks Saturday and how they fare in their first outing as starters, a bigger key will be how well the players around them play.

That was more or less Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's message to his redshirt freshman, Johnny Manziel, who does have a gunslinger side to him. Hence the nickname Johnny Football.

But what Sumlin wants him to do, especially in this game, is to use the people around him. Get the ball to Ryan Swope. Lean on Christine Michael. Let that veteran offensive line do its job.

It's much the same deal for Florida's Jeff Driskel, who's making his first start as the Gators' quarterback.

For all the talk about what Florida's quarterbacks haven't done the past couple of years, they haven't gotten a lot of help from their receivers, either. They need more plays similar to the one Frankie Hammond turned in last week, where somebody gathers in a short pass and turns it into a 50-yard play.

Where this Florida offense has a chance to be different than last season is at running back. Mike Gillislee appears to be that workhorse that can get it done between the tackles and also break some big plays.

The two quarterbacks will indeed be on center stage Saturday at Kyle Field. But their supporting casts will decide the game.