For Texas and Florida, Season Must Remain About the Ground Game and Defense

Michael Felder@InTheBleachersNational CFB Lead WriterSeptember 19, 2012

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 15:  David Ash #14 of the Texas Longhorns celebrates after a first half touchdown during the game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

When it comes to Texas and Florida, Nos. 12 and 14 in the AP Poll, respectively, you've got a pair of teams that have to stay the course in the run game if they want to continue to be factors in their conferences. Both teams are less than a decade removed from BCS titles. The memory of Tim Tebow still dances in the heads of Florida Gators as some of the ultimate in quarterback play. For the Longhorns it is the double barrel of Vince Young and Colt McCoy sitting at the pinnacle.

Now, after a couple of down years, both the Horns and Gators are looking to be major players in their own leagues.

And they are doing it in a totally different way than they did just a few seasons ago. These teams are not led by dynamic power players at the quarterback position. Instead, they are built a lot more like Alabama and the LSU Tigers from 2011; they run the football and play great defense.

However, now the challenge gets increasingly more difficult. The Longhorns and Gators have established an identity, and the hardest part for them will be clinging to that hard and fast line of what they are as football teams in 2012. 

For Texas, David Ash's Davey O'Brien Player of the Week Award for his 346 passing yards presents quite the issue.

Great showing by Ash, but let's not forget that his yards were aided by the 350 rushing yards the Longhorns piled up. Do not mistake this performance for a crowning moment. Ash is an adequate quarterback, but Texas has to remember where its bread is buttered: the run game. Keep Ash in his box of 18-24 passing attempts a game, and continue to churn up yards on the ground. 

As for the Gators, their time will come as the SEC season continues. They've passed their first two tests, including beating a Tennessee team that has a dangerous offense. Posting 336 yards on the ground is an impressive feat, and as Jeff Driskel continues to improve, the Gators need to take shots when they can.

"Shots" means exploiting eight- and nine-man fronts a couple times during games. That does not mean letting Driskel throw the ball 25-plus times a game hoping for a big moment.

Football teams each have their own personalities, and winning strategies must take those personal and personnel makeups into account. For some teams that means chucking it around the yard for 35 times a game. For Texas and Florida, it means piling up rushing yards, punching teams in the mouth on defense and letting their quarterbacks play within themselves to manage the game.

If Mack Brown and Will Muschamp can stick to the script, the Longhorns and the Gators should be on track to have a solid conference season.