Potent Missouri and Texas A&M face stingy SEC

Potent Missouri and Texas A&M face stingy SEC

June 10th, 2012 by David Paschall in Sports College08football

Texas A&M's Jorvorskie Lane (11) rushes up the middle for a gain against Missouri.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Missouri and Texas A&M finished last year ranked among the top dozen college football teams in total offense.

Now they're in the Southeastern Conference, a league renowned for stingy defense. After all, Alabama and LSU played each other for eight quarters last season before an official signaled a touchdown.

"I have great respect for the SEC and for the success they've had and the number of great teams that are in this league, and we recognize that it's also known for playing great defense," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "We have a scheme that we believe in, and so we're going to run our scheme. We will also, as we always do, adjust if necessary.

"We will not make the statement that we are going to do what we do regardless of what anybody does."

Pinkel's Tigers finished 12th nationally with 475.5 yards a game last season, while the Aggies were ninth at 490.2. Arkansas led the SEC in total offense with 438.1 yards a game, which was good for 29th nationally, while BCS champion Alabama was 31st at 429.6.

Missouri will employ a spread attack at a time when two of the SEC's recent national championship programs -- Auburn and Florida -- are getting away from it. The league's new Tigers feed off quarterback James Franklin, who completed 63.3 percent of his passes last season for 2,865 yards and also averaged 75.5 rushing yards a game.

"It's a different animal," said Florida coach Will Muschamp, who faced Missouri's spread as the defensive coordinator at Texas. "From a formation adjustment standpoint, it is going to be an adjustment for our league. They create with Franklin the quarterback runs and different things, and what it does is create a lot of matchups and space plays.

"You've got to make plays in space versus these guys, and you've got to be able to rush the quarterback with four guys."

Franklin suffered a shoulder injury in spring practice but is expected to be ready by the start of preseason camp. That will not be the case with tailback Henry Josey, who was averaging 116.8 yards per game a year ago before a devastating November knee injury in which he tore his left patellar tendon as well as his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.

Georgia coach Mark Richt believes Missouri will spread out a little more than anybody else in the SEC but not with anything that hasn't been seen before.

The same may or may not be said about Texas A&M, which has a new coach, Kevin Sumlin. Last season, Sumlin, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Case Keenum directed Houston's pass-happy offense that compiled a nation-leading 8,387 yards on 1,102 plays and tallied 93 touchdowns.

Arkansas led the SEC with 59 touchdowns.

"We have several teams who are no-huddle and hurry-up, so it's not going to be something that is completely different," Alabama's Nick Saban said. "It will be a challenge for all of us to look at the things they do technically and try to make sure we can adapt and adjust to it."

Keenum averaged 402.2 passing yards a game and threw for 54 touchdowns and only six interceptions. The Aggies lost quarterback Ryan Tannehill to the first round of April's NFL draft, but they return an offensive line that may be second only to Alabama within the SEC, and they bring back receiver Ryan Swope, who had 1,207 yards last season.

Kingsbury has admitted the SEC is not a league in which one can freely attempt 60 to 70 passes a game, but he likes the personnel he and Sumlin have inherited.

"The one good thing here is we fell into an offense that has really good players and has been successful," Kingsbury told the Bryan-College Station (Texas) Eagle. "It's not like we are taking the 100th-ranked offense. They know how to score points, and they've been a part of an offense that works, so that has made the transition much easier. They have talented players that fit our system already in place."

Bracing for potent offenses was hardly a concern during the SEC's last expansion in 1992, when Arkansas and South Carolina arrived and averaged 16 and 15 points per game. The new Tigers and Aggies certainly would ensure successful debuts by compiling offensive numbers anywhere close to what they did a year ago.

"They are going to bring a different dimension to this league," said Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who previously was at Iowa State in the Big 12. "Both have the potential to be a little different than what some of this league or most of this league chooses to do offensively. It will be very challenging, because they have some great ideas philosophically."