Florida coach Will Muschamp, who spent three seasons in the Big 12 as defensive coordinator at Texas, understands why Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops considers the elite reputation of the Southeastern Conference a bit overstated.
Asked Tuesday about Stoops’ assertion in May that the perceived gap between SEC teams and the rest of the country is “a lot of propaganda,” Muschamp acknowledged he could understand Stoops’ perspective.
“If I was Bob, I would say the same thing,” Muschamp said during the first day of the SEC football media days at the Wynfrey Hotel.
But Muschamp, who led the Gators to an 11-2 record last season, made it clear that he sees a fundamental difference between the pass-happy Big 12 and the more physical nature of the SEC, the league that has produced the last seven BCS national champions. That difference, said Muschamp, makes it difficult for finesse teams to match up against SEC foes that feature a downhill, two-back running game.
In the SEC, that is the majority of the title contenders.
“The thing about our league that I think is a little different is you have to prepare for the two-back set. You can’t do that in a week,” Muschamp said. “That’s a physical style of play. You’ve got to understand how to fit the power, the counter, the direct runs, the north and south runs, which are an issue if you haven’t done it and your guys aren’t used to it. I think you saw us wear some people down last year because of our physical style of play.”
In the Big 12, where the majority of teams rely on one-back spread offenses, the power running game is less prevalent. Wide-open passing games keep “constant pressure on the defense” and create plenty of headaches, Muschamp said. But they make for an easier weekly defensive adjustment than a power running game, in Muschamp’s estimation, if that is not a team’s base offense.
_ Jimmy Burch