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Thursday, November 29, 2012
Muschamp's plan works in Year 2

By Edward Aschoff

We all snickered at him.

You did. I did. Other coaches probably did, too.

But while we stuck our noses up at Will Muschamp and his Florida Gators, he snickered right back. Well, he probably just shrugged us off because the last thing he cares about is what anyone not wearing orange and blue says about him or his program.

Kudos to the second-year coach who told us that all he needed was more discipline and tougher (physically and mentally) players in order to win games. He never talked about lighting up the scoreboard, and even with his wildly inconsistent offense, Florida went 11-1 and beat four Top-10 BCS teams in the process.

Will Muschamp
Will Muschamp and Florida beat four Top-10 BCS teams this year.
What looked like an eight- or-nine-win team entering the season, was a win away from taking the SEC Eastern Division and is No. 4 in the BCS standings. The Gators were far from flashy offensively, but were tremendous on defense and special teams.

Muschamp didn't ask his team to score 50 points a game or average 400 yards of offense. He just wanted his team to outscore its opponents, no matter how it happened.

Every week that Muschamp barked about being satisfied with the ugly wins, we laughed, saying his Gators couldn't keep up such an ugly game plan. But the wins kept coming -- ugly and unconventional.

Then, Florida goes into Tallahassee and thumps rival Florida State and it's No. 1 defense with an almost perfect offensive plan. Where was that offense hiding since the first half of the season?

We still don't know what to make of this team, but Muschamp's plan of toughness and building a strong running game (the Gators averaged 194.1 yards a game) and a smothering defense (ranks fifth nationally in total defense) worked.

The Gators aren't playing for the SEC title or the national title, but one could argue that Florida has the best resume in college football. Florida owns the nation's toughest schedule and beat both Texas A&M and Florida State on the road.

Top-ranked Notre Dame might be undefeated, while No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia (the only team to beat Florida) are playing in Atlanta, but Florida had a much tougher road to get to 11-1. Just ask Muschamp.

"Guys, our resume speaks for itself. I mean, c’mon," Muschamp said this week. "You guys have covered the southeast. You guys have covered the SEC. You’ve seen where we’ve played, who we’ve played and the quality of football teams we’ve beaten. We'll play anyone anywhere, whatever that slogan is."

And with the way the Gators have won, it would be tough to bet against them.

Muschamp is up for SEC coach of the year, and so are these guys: