The most important matchup on Saturday is going to be Florida Atlantic quarterback Rusty Smith against the new and hopefully improved Texas defense. Smith was the Sun Belt Conference player of the year, and he probably has an NFL future.
Don't believe me? Then let's ask Howard Schnellenberger:
"Based on the quarterbacks that I have had the fortune to be around, Joe Namath for two years and then Bert Jones and then Bob Griese and Earl Morall in the pros and then at Miami with (Jim) Kelly, (Vinnie) Testaverde and (Bernie) Kosar and then in Louisville with Browning Nagle and Jeff Brohm; he is right in that mold."
Lofty if not over the top praise. Specifically, "He gets it out quick. The best thing about him is that he knows our offense inside and out. He is a great field general. He gets us into the right plays almost all the time. He doesn't have to look to the sideline to get a hint from the coordinators, he knows the work we have done all week on where he should go."
The magnitude of the game and the crowd will not be a factor. Smith has already played at Clemson, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma State (twice) and Kansas State. Playing in Death Valley and at The Swamp should prepare you for any foreign environment. Smith is probably visualizing it something like this:
What does this mean for Texas? Most likely a couple of things. Muschamp will probably work on disguising coverages. Show him one thing and then do another. Or show him one thing that forces him to throw it where you want him to throw it. What Ohio State successfully did to us in 2006. What Ohio State unsuccessfully tried to do to Florida in 2007.
The other is pressure. Muschamp learned from Nick Saban so he's probably got a hundred different blitz packages. We'll maybe see a fraction of them on Saturday. Smith was only sacked 15 times last year, but FAU will be without two starters on their offensive line including their center. I'm not sure if he makes the line calls or not, but that is potentially a big loss. Offensive linemen hate confusion because it creates hesitancy. And he who hesitates
is lost gets the guy with the ball killed.