Florida Football: Muschamp, Driskel Prove Themselves in Win over Texas A&M

Neil ShulmanCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 08:  Jeff Driskel #6 of the Florida Gators throws the ball against Deshazor Everett #29 of the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on September 8, 2012 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Howdy, Texas A&M.

You've been annexed by Gator Nation. 

Best trash-talking silencers and second-half defense in the nation. 

Real Football. Real Tradition.


Maybe the Texas Longhorns will never get the satisfaction of beating the Aggies again. But they'll have to settle for their beloved former defensive coordinator doing it for them. And everybody in the SEC has to love it—one of their own went into their famed stadium, fell behind by double digits, and pulled it out.

Yes, that's right, the 24th ranked Gators went into College Station and beat the famous 12-man team after falling behind 17-7.

They're just lucky it wasn't so much worse.

The first half was the epitome of everything that went wrong in Will Muschamp's first season (and first game of last season) as the Gators' head man. The Gators committed three quick penalties, the offensive line was extremely weak and refused to get any push up front, and the defense got gashed for long TD drives by an offense that has speed all around.

Then came halftime.

I wasn't in the locker room, so I have no idea what Muschamp said. But whatever it was, he ought to bottle and sell it, because the Gators roared out of the locker room and shut the Aggies out the entire second half on defense, and the offense controlled the ball, moved the chains, and kept Johnny Manziel off the field.

I must say, I was beginning to have doubts about Will Muschamp before this game. My reasons were as follows: the Gators commit too many stupid penalties, they can't force turnovers, the offensive line is horrendous and the defense is like Stephen Garcia—it can be so good, or so bad.

Today, the Gators proved me wrong on every single one of these except for the turnovers. But who needs turnovers when you give up 65 yards in the second half?

Will Muschamp proved to me that he is in fact capable of turning around a team after a poor half, he's capable of bringing his team into a hostile environment and winning, and he's capable of producing a tenacious defense that could rival Alabama's and LSU's as the best in the nation as time progresses.

On the other hand, Jeff Driskel didn't prove a whole lot last week against Bowling Green, just enough to be named the starter the next week. But against Texas A&M, he proved to be a fantastic game managing QB—one who moves the chains, takes his time and makes a huge play when he has to. The 40-yard throw to Omarius Hines and the 20-yard run were all he needed to do to pull Florida through, and he made those plays.

This is the Gators' formula for success. It's the same formula used by Muschamp's former boss, Alabama head coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide rely on a fierce defense, downhill running (which the Gators appear to have) and a QB that controls the game and can make plays when he has to.

While I wouldn't exactly call this "turning Florida into Alabama" as some Gator fans do, I will say that Muschamp is trying to rebuild his team into a Nick Saban type team. If the same results are produced, nobody can argue with it, no matter how sweet the Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow memories may be.

Obviously, the Gators still have issues. This team has still only forced one turnover in its first two games, and none against the Aggies. The offensive line blocked very well on some plays, and not at all on others. And now, a new problem has surfaced—the Gators have suddenly become overwhelmed by injuries. Ronald Powell appears done for the year, Jelani Jenkins is out for a month and Mike Gillislee is probable for the Tennessee game.

To me, inconsistency is the biggest problem. The turnovers will eventually come with time and there's nothing you can do about injuries. The Gators played a great second half, but not so great that I forgot how awful the first half was. The Gators escaped this time, but do you really think they can survive a half like that against LSU?

I don't.

But in any case, the Gators did get the win, which is the most important thing of all. It doesn't matter how as long as your name is listed with the higher number in the box score. 

So for all those people who were calling for Muschamp to be fired and Jacoby Brissett to start, back off. Muschamp proved his worth as an adjuster and motivator, and Driskel proved his as a winning QB. 

At least for another week.


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