Scotland host France in their RBS 6 Nations clash at Murrayfield and Cotter knows the French threats only too well as head coach of Top 14 side Clermont.
And after one win and two defeats from their first three games Scotland are desperate for a boost against an injury-hit France side.
And Cotter is confident they can cause an upset, provided they hit the ground running.
"The first 20 minutes will be important because France will be looking to establish their points of access into this game," he told the Scotsman.
"Scrum, lineout, driving maul and then the speed with which they run through the phases.
"I think they are going to be very aggressive but, if you take away their points of access in the first quarter, then they will begin to doubt themselves.
"The new group of players who replace those missing will be more than competitive and the French know that fortunes can change very quickly in the Six Nations.
"A good game against Scotland and they feel that they will be back in contention to win this championship."