GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Whether Florida’s players are in better shape than a year ago will be tested Saturday against Texas A&M. Defensively, anyway.
They Gators will have to deal with Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin’s up-tempo offense, which is designed to wear a defense down, making it more susceptible to giving up big plays. It also keeps defenses from substituting during the drive, which isn’t as much of a problem for defensive backs as it is for defensive linemen and pass rushers.
"When they get into that pace, you really have to do a good job with your substitution because you don’t want to do it within a series where you could get (caught with) guys running off (the field for a penalty)," Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "You have to be really disciplined and stay with the group when they get into that kind of tempo."
Sumlin’s offense at Houston last season led FBS with 1,102 total plays, 47 more than the next-best team (Clemson, 1,055). Granted, the Cougars did have Case Keenum running the offense. He wasn’t there in 2010 and while the Cougars ran 208 fewer plays, they still finished 11th nationally in total offense.
"That’s what they do. That’s who they are," UF coach Will Muschamp said. "The ball’s out quick, so you can’t get frustrated in the game."
This will be Texas A&M’s season opener, which means the Aggies didn’t have a chance to work out the kinks or get experience under game conditions. Plus, the Aggies have a redshirt freshman quarterback (Johnny Manziel) running the offense. The timing won’t be a crisp as it will be later in the season, and UF is going to try and unsettle it even further.
"You have to have some rush where you can affect the quarterback, to what we would call getting him off the spot, where he gets out of rhythm and doesn’t like to make the throws on time," Quinn said. "And we want to be able to get our hands on receivers. That’s really our style anyway. I don’t think that would be anything new for this week."