Gators Preparing for New SEC Foes

The Gators will be on the schedule for both new SEC teams this fall. Luckily for Florida, head coach Will Muschamp already has some familiarity with Missouri and Texas A&M. The spread offense head coach Gary Pinkel and his staff run at Missouri causes matchup problems, and the Gators will be the first SEC team to take on the new Texas A&M offense under first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin.

The trip to Texas A&M during week two will be the Aggies first SEC game. Muschamp has coached at Kyle Field before during his time at Texas and knows it will be an impressive atmosphere.

There's uncertainty about what the Aggies will do on offense. After head coach Mike Sherman was fired following a 7-6 season, Kevin Sumlin was hired from Houston to take the reigns of the program as it heads into its first year in the SEC.

"They've got a great tradition out there in College Station," Will Muschamp said on Tuesday's SEC coaches' conference call. "Kevin Sumlin is a really good football coach. They have a really good staff and great tradition there. We're looking forward to them coming into the SEC.

"Obviously, that draws a lot of TV sets for us there in Houston and the East Texas area. We're excited about them being a part of our league."

There's more certainty about what the Gators will face when Missouri comes to The Swamp in early November. As defensive coordinator at Texas from 2008-10, Muschamp went up against the Tigers two times.

In 2008, Missouri put up 348 total yards of offense, with 318 of those coming through the air. Texas won that game 56-31.

In 2009, Muschamp's defense was dominant. The Longhorns allowed Missouri to gain just 173 yards—99 passing and 74 rushing. They held sophomore quarterback and future first-round pick Blaine Gabbert to 8-16 through the air for 84 yards and one touchdown.

The two teams didn't play in 2010.

"It's a different animal," Muschamp said of the Missouri spread offense. "They're in four and five wides, they've got four guys on a side. From a formation adjustment standpoint, it is going to be an adjustment for our league. They create with Franklin the quarterback runs. It creates matchup. You've got to make some plays in space against these guys. You've got to be able to rush the quarterback with four guys.

"You get in situations where you pressure a bunch, then you'll create some one-on-ones. They've done a nice job of recruiting skill people, but they make you declare because of spreading the field. They very rarely have two backs there. Most of the time they only have one, but they create a lot of looks by motioning him around back there. Their entire offensive staff creates issue."

NO QUARTERBACK FAVORITE: The quarterback battle won't have any answers soon. It will go into fall camp and could go longer than that.

"As far as managing our football team, both guys can create plays off rhythm with their legs," Muschamp said. "Both are very accurate throwers, and I think they're talented players. We can win with both of them."

The only thing Muschamp continues to say about timetable is that the decision will be made "when the time is right." It won't come before practices start in August. Until then, the focus for the quarterbacks turns to leading the team off the field. Coaches aren't allowed to be around the team much, and Muschamp will trust his strength staff to provide reports of player leadership.

Each player has the skill set to be successful and fit in what Muschamp and first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease want to do.

"As we work through it, it'll all be about managing our team," Muschamp said. "I don't mean that in a conservative manner. I mean it from a standpoint of guys converting third down, making vertical plays down the field, getting us in and out of the right runs and taking the ball to the right spots. As we continue to work through, it's very close as far as those factors."


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