After an unimpressive win over Bowling Green on Saturday, this Saturday at Texas A&M is an important game for Florida. The mantra throughout the offseason was that the team needed to start the season and games fast. It didn't look like it against the Falcons.
Saturday in College Station, which will also be the home of ESPN's College Gameday for the weekend, will be a chance to correct that. A win over the Aggies would be a second chance for a fast start to the season.
"It is an important game because it's the next one and an SEC game," Muschamp said. "Is it the end all? No. It's a critical game for us to go on the road and play well, and improve from game one to game two. This team understands we have things to work on."
It'll be an atmosphere that is expected to be among the best in Texas A&M history. It's the first game of the season, first under Sumlin, and more importantly, it's the first game for Texas A&M as an SEC program. Despite all the hype, the Gators have played in big stadiums in recent years and aren't afraid of what they'll see at Kyle Field.
"We've played in atmospheres like we're going to see at Texas A&M," Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said.
The matchup comes after a frustrating first week for both teams. The Florida offense sputtered and struggled to show the toughness that Muschamp and his staff spent the offseason trying to instill. It was frustrating for Texas A&M because their first game in Shreveport against Louisiana Tech was cancelled because of Hurricane Isaac.
Muschamp said the debate about who that benefits could be cut different ways, but the Gators are happy to have their first game behind them with a number of changes to be made from game one to game two.
"We can split this one hundred different ways," Muschamp said. "It's certainly an advantage to have played with some young players and with a new quarterback for us."
The first game against Bowling Green also gives the Florida defense an idea of what they'll see in College Station. The Falcons' offense was based on quick passes that got the ball out of the quarterback's hands in a hurry and frustrated the pass rushers on the defense line.
Muschamp said Kevin Sumlin's offenses at Houston would stretch the field but still focused on an offense that got the ball out of the quarterback's hand in a hurry.
"That's what they do. That's who they are," Muschamp said. "The ball is out quick and in space to let guys make plays. You've got to tackle well and stop the run. Part of their run is the screen game. They say it's a pass, but it's really part of what their run game is."
Sumlin's offense wants to move fast between plays to get as many snaps as they can. Redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel will get the start for the Aggies and throw the first pass of his collegiate career against the Florida defense.
"Johnny Manziel was a really good athlete and an outstanding quarterback for his high school there," Muschamp said. "He's a guy that's got legs. He's a dual-threat guy that throws it well."