ATLANTA, Georgia -- Members of the Texas A&M and Duke football teams held press conferences Sunday leading up to the 2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Aggie offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, quarterback Johnny Manziel, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and defensive back Deshazor Everett represented Texas A&M.
The Chick-Fil-A Bowl will be the first game for Spavital as the Aggies' offensive coordinator. He will call plays offensively replacing Clarence McKinney who had called plays this season. With Spavital calling plays from the sideline he says the tempo of the offense may pick up. "I believe that we might play at a faster pace just due to communication of cutting out the middleman, going from the press box to me to Johnny, which is now just a direct communication from me to Johnny." It is a point Manziel agrees with saying, "I think they will just come in quicker, hopefully get in more of a rhythm. And that's what we have to do if we want to win this game; complete some passes early and get things rolling and get our tempo where we want to. So I think coming in directly from the sideline will speed that up a little bit.
The Aggies and Blue Devils are set for an 8:00pm eastern time kick on New Year's Eve at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised on ESPN.
An Interview With:
Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital
Defensive Coordinator Mark Snyder
QB Johnny Manziel
DB Deshazor Everett
THE MODERATOR: Offensive
coordinator, Jake Spavital; defensive coordinator,
Mark Snyder; quarterback, Johnny Manziel; and
defensive back Deshazor Everett. I'll ask each
coordinator to start and then maybe get some
comments from the players. Coach Spavital, if
you'll give us some notes on your Bowl experience
so far and what you guys have been up to.
COACH SPAVITAL: Definitely. I would
say we arrived on Christmas, it was our travel day.
We spent, I would say, about eight practices in
College Station and we arrived here. We've been
treating it like a full game week. We started off
with a Monday practice on the 26th.
We have gone with a Monday, Tuesday,
it's kind of funny, it's Sunday but we are treating it
like a Thursday now. We have a tough task
ahead. Duke is a very good opponent. I don't care
what league you're in; if it's a team that can win ten
games, that's pretty tough to do. At one point they
were one of the hottest teams in the country with
an eight-game win streak.
Defensively, they are a very well-coached
team. They are very sound. They don't give up
very many points. They play very hard. They
have three guys that have over a hundred-plus
tackles, which you don't see that very often. And I
think they do a great job of getting their best
players involved with the game plan and we have a
very tough task ahead but I think we are very
excited to get to Tuesday and lead into the new
year hopefully with a victory.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Snyder, talk
about your experience in whole week so far and
how this has compared to others?
COACH SNYDER: It's been a great week.
Chick-Fil-A has done a great job, kept us busy and
I think the kids are having fun, excited to go play.
THE MODERATOR: Johnny, we'll start
with you, what's been your favorite Bowl week
event so far and how good a time are you guys
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Having a good time,
the other night with both teams, the Madden
Challenge, watching our players go against theirs.
It was a good game, down to the end, pretty
excited about it. Pretty good event to do with the
Bowl every night, and looking forward to another
one getting to drive some go-carts and have some
fun again tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Deshazor, what's
been your favorite event so far?
DESHAZOR EVERETT: I definitely
enjoyed Johnny -- (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR: I thought we were
going to make it all the way to the questions until
that came up.
DESHAZOR EVERETT: I've had a good
time at all the events. The shake making, that was
something to watch, our players making shakes.
The Madden game was exciting all the way to the
end. It came down to the end. And probably the
only place you can get Chick-Fil-A on a Sunday, so
that's exciting, too.
Q. Jake, can you tell us what might
seem difference on offense than we've seen in
COACH SPAVITAL: There's not going to
be much difference out there. I believe that we
might play at a faster pace just due to
communication of cutting out the middleman, going
from the press box to me to Johnny, which is now
just a direct communication from me to Johnny.
It's mainly we are just going to try to get a
lot of players involved and we are just going to
have to find out early in the game who is going to
-- who is hot and who is playing well and we are
going to try to distribute the ball as much as we
possibly can. I wouldn't see too many changes.
Q. Johnny, do you feel like things will
December 29, 2013
visit our archives at asapsports.com
Texas A&M 12.29.13.doc 2
change now that you'll have Coach Spav call
the plays directly to you and being on the
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Just like he said, I
think they will just come in quicker, hopefully get in
more of a rhythm. And that's what we have to do if
we want to win this game; complete some passes
early and get things rolling and get our tempo
where we want to. So I think coming in directly
from the sideline will speed that up a little bit.
Q. Johnny, I know you're here thinking
about the Bowl game but where are you in
terms of looking into the NFL decision? Who
have you talked to and where are new that
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Nowhere even close,
just where I was back in New York, back in
Orlando. I haven't had any more time with the
Bowl practice we had at College Station. Didn't get
a chance to really do much.
Q. You did put your name in to get NFL
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Yes.
Q. What kind of impact or issues do
you think you might have without dare January
in the lineup?
COACH SNYDER: Well, I think Jordan
has had a really good two weeks of practice. He's
been backing up Darian anyway. His reps have
increased over the last three games and I know
the kid is looking forward to it. He's excited. It will
be exciting to see what he's going to do. We were
going to make this move in the spring anyway, so
this is going to give him a first chance to get a start
on a big stage and we'll know a lot more after we
Q. Johnny, I've been curious, going
back to your redshirt freshman year, because
you were excelling so much in drills, did you
and Coach Sherman ever discuss you
playing -- not taking time from Ryan Tannehill,
but maybe playing some other position instead
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Yeah, back in my
red-shirt year, Coach -- Tannehill was there, he
was a starter, but he always kept telling me, no
matter what game is was, just continue to be
ready, continue to practice like you're going to be
playing on Saturday.
So I didn't really know if there would be
another position or really how that was going to
work but they continue to tell me to be ready in
case anything were to happen or if something
Q. If you did come back next year, what
do you think you could accomplish that you
haven't already accomplished at the college
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Well, there's a lot of
team things we haven't done yet. I mean, we
finished third and fourth in the ACC west, which is
something that we would like to improve on, get to
the ACC game and get to a National
Championship Game. Obviously sitting here right
now -- but there's plenty still left to be done. I don't
think I just came into college in two years and just
did everything I could -- not done everything I'd like
to accomplish, so I think there's plenty out there.
Q. Duke's running game has improved
dramatically over the last two or three years,
what's your thought about their rushing talent?
COACH SNYDER: Consistency. Those
kids have played a lot of football together. I think
that's what makes the engine go is the front,
playing together and seeing it on film. The kids
have played a lot of games, started a lot of games.
I think that's why you've seen an improvement in
the running game, and I think their staff has
committed to running the ball more, as well.
Q. And they are going to be playing
without the leading rusher, Duncan, who was
suspended from school; how will that impact?
COACH SNYDER: Well, it's more about
their offensive line. They have lost an offensive
lineman, as well, in the Florida State game. To me
they have two, now three really good running
backs, but it's the offensive line that makes that
Q. Jake, was the tempo a problem this
season and on the sidelines, you've talked
about how it can improve but if that was an
issue, if it's going to improve that much, why
wasn't the move made earlier to have the plays
coming from the sidelines?
COACH SPAVITAL: I wouldn't say it was
that huge of an issue. A lot of it has to do with
getting in the rhythm of things. Past coordinators
visit our archives at asapsports.com
Texas A&M 12.29.13.doc 3
I've worked with, that came directly from them,
from the play caller to the quarterback and it's all
about developing a rhythm. It was really up to
Coach Sumlin. I don't really know about and deal
with personnel and staff changes. That's
completely up to him. You know, he decided to
make the change and we've moved forward in that
direction and we are trying to go in verse Duke and
get a great rhythm established and mix it all up and
see what happens from there.
Q. What have you seen from the Duke
offense and the challenges they will present
DESHAZOR EVERETT: They have a very
good offense. We have to stop both the run and
the pass. They have some good receivers. We
know -- inaudible -- their receiver and their tight
end, so we are going to have a good challenge on
Q. Deshazor, you've been around
Johnny for a while and you go up against him
every day in practice. What kind of leader and
what kind of presence does he have within the
DESHAZOR EVERETT: He won't quit and
he'll go at you. He's not afraid to go up against
anybody. And regardless of how many plays the
defense made that day, if he feel like he can make
a play against you, he's going to make that play
happen. He's going to give it his best. He's going
to give it his all and he won't back down from
Q. What have you seen specifically
from Jamison Crowder on tape, and how does
he compare to some of the best receivers that
you've faced in the SEC?
DESHAZOR EVERETT: He has good
speed, good routes, and he goes and completes
the ball. He's a good receiver. I can't take
anything away from him just because of the
conference that they are playing in. But it's going
to be a big challenge for us and we are just going
to have to go out and play them just like we play
every other receiver.
Q. This may sound kind of like a
simplistic question but with all the eyes on you
and pressure on you, have you been able to
enjoy yourself this season and what kind of
stands out to you when you think about this
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I think I've absolutely
been able to enjoy myself. I've had a great time in
College Station just this year, had a great group of
friends, great group of teammates that have been
around me since things kind of changed back in
August. But life's been good. I've been able to
enjoy things in College Station. It's really
mellowed out a lot and I've been able to go more
places and do more and people are -- me being
around and out in the public. It really has been a
great year. I've enjoyed every second of it.
Q. Coach Sumlin mentioned about you
being beat up a little bit at the end of the
season and much has been written about your
thumb, your shoulder. Can you tell us where
you're at and how much that maybe did hamper
you at the end of the season?
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I feel really good
today. I wish the game was tonight. I'm really tired
and having to sit here and continue to practice and
continue to wait for the game. I think we are ready
to get back on the field. I think we are eager to
play. So I was a little banged up. The thumb is
feeling extremely well, as well as really everything
else, so I feel like I'm healthy and ready to play in
the Bowl game.
Q. Johnny, can you compare Duke's
defense to what you've seen on tape so far to
some of those tough defenses that you've had
to see in the SEC, what type of challenges they
will bring to you Tuesday night?
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I think the biggest
thing about Duke is they have a lot of fire. They
swarm to the ball and they play good as a unit. It's
hard to kind of compare who they would be like in
But you look at what they did at the
beginning of the Florida State game, they really
slowed that high-powered offense down. I think
they played hard more than anything and they
played together as a unit.
Q. Coach Snyder, during the Missouri
game we saw a lot of progress in the defense,
thought that was a pretty good defensive game.
Noticed a lot of younger defensive linemen, like
Jay Arnold in the game; can we expect more of
that in this game?
COACH SNYDER: Yes, yes, you will.
visit our archives at asapsports.com
Texas A&M 12.29.13.doc 4
Q. Jake, could you talk about your
mentors or who you're going to draw on when
you become an offensive coordinator making
the calls, who influenced your system or what
you're going to go do?
COACH SPAVITAL: There's a lot to that.
I've had the opportunity to work with Gus Malzahn
and Dana Holgorsen and Kliff Kingsbury.
A lot of that has to do with the type of
quarterback that you have. If you look at the past
quarterbacks I've had with Johnny and Brandon
and Geno Smith and Case Keenum, they are all
exceptional quarterbacks, but you run the offense
all differently with them. That's part of just sitting
down next year in the spring and figuring out what
type of personnel we have and that's the direction
that it's going to go from.
But I would say that probably the biggest
influences offensively for me have been Kliff
Kingsbury and Dana Holgorsen.
Q. Johnny, who is the team that
surprised a lot of country this year, if
somebody had told you back in August before
the season started that you would be playing
Duke in your Bowl game, what would you have
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I think they have
done a great job of getting to where they were, and
like Coach Spav said, they were one of the hottest
teams in the country at one point in time, and you
have to look and really give them credit for what
they have done this year. I don't think I would
have expected it. We thought we would be in a
BCS Bowl, maybe a National Championship, but
things went how they did and we are very, very
happy to be here and look forward to playing Duke.
Q. At the beginning of the season, the
suspensions early on defense, Darian has his
troubles lately. How disappointing is it for you
and what do you do moving forward in terms
of -- I don't know if the word is tightening the
screws or what have you in terms of your
COACH SNYDER: Well, it's a learning
process. We are dealing with 18-, 19-, 20-year-old
kids, and you go through a maturation process. As
kids go through that maturation process at times,
they are going to learn some tough lessons and
you have to give them some tough love. It's kind
of like raising your children and that's kind of the
way we approach it.
Q. Coach Spav, talking about a BCS
Bowl, but how -- at least in this location, talking
about it's going to be in the playoff format next
season, how big is it to play well, especially in
the location that is going to host one of those
COACH SPAVITAL: Definitely, this is my
first time going into the Georgia Dome. It's a great
venue and you can see why that it's going to be in
one of those top games to compete with the
It's definitely something that we have to
take very seriously and this game, it's the only
game on national TV at night and it's a great
recruiting tool for us, too. If we go out there and
execute the way we do and we come out with a
victory, it's going to spark us in spring in recruiting
and at this stage it's very important to have
Q. Can you talk about escaping
pressure, and how did you develop that skill?
JOHNNY MANZIEL: That's something
that just became natural when I played football in
high school, just being able to improvise and
extend plays and try to keep them alive and really
move the chains and get downs and score
touchdowns is the main goal. So trying to fight for
these guys and extend the play and make things
Q. Does Duke remind y'all of kind of
yourselves last year?
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Maybe a little bit.
Obviously we had a big signature win last year
towards the end of the year, but you look at what
they did with a win streak and how we had a little
bit of a run there going towards the end of the
I remember how we felt going into the
Cotton Bowl and the momentum that we have and
the confidence. I'm sure they share some of that,
Q. For Jake and Johnny, have you
guys been able to pinpoint what went wrong
with the offense in the last two games, besides
you being banged up, were you not getting
enough people involved? What were the
DESHAZOR EVERETT: I think
visit our archives at asapsports.com
Texas A&M 12.29.13.doc 5
confidence. If I could pinpoint one thing, I would
say just that would probably be the main thing, we
were not playing with really the swagger or playing
with the juice and energy that we needed to be.
Going into the Auburn game and how that
turned out in that game, it has really deflated, and
you look at it -- talk the next day, it was one that
stung for a long time, especially offensively. Just
going from that game and kind of transitioning to
some other ones and some non-conference games
thrown in there, we just kind of lost our confidence
after that and never really could get it back.
So I feel like we've had a great week of
Bowl practice and we continue to progress,
especially since we've been here in Atlanta. So I'm
very excited and I'm very confident in these guys
and I think we are all ready to go.
Q. Daeshon Hall is a guy that has
progressed as the season went along and had
a nice run there in the end; what have you seen
from him in Bowl preparations? Do you feel
like he a guy that can have a breakout game?
COACH SNYDER: Well, hope so. I
mean, Dae-Dae is getting better, just like all the
young guns are. As you watch the season unfold
down the stretch here, I feel like we've gotten
better and our confidence is coming with our group
and he's definitely a part of that.
Still young, first Bowl experience for a lot
of these guys, so it will be another chapter in their
lives and the season. Hopefully the last one for --
as a new experience.
Q. It seemed to go against every bit of
your competitive fiber, whatever you want to
call it. How difficult was it to teach yourself to
slide, to get out of bounds and to do the things
that everyone said you needed to work on in
the off-season to become a better, complete
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Well, I want to play a
whole game and I don't want to get blind-sided or
take a shot like I did in the Auburn game that was
-- could have been avoided. As hard as it is in that
instance and such a quick second to make that
decision, sometimes you just have to chalk it up
and get down, and I needed to do that a little bit
But I think that you look in the NFL and
you look at some of the greatest guys that do it,
you know when to pick your battles, so I'm still
learning how to do that and hopefully try and
Q. Jake, as you guys look to get that
swagger and confidence back, how important
and how key can a quick start be, like we saw
last year with coming out and making
COACH SPAVITAL: Definitely, that's huge
and that's one of the main emphasises that we do
as an offense is the fast start. It's going to be very
important to get a lot of people involved early in the
game, and focus on getting first downs and
hopefully that will lead into touchdowns. But those
first few drives of the game are very important to
set the tone.
Q. You talked about the sliding and
learning to do that; someone mentioned
yesterday that it was a little bit funny because
last year you didn't do that but you weren't hurt
and this year you did do it and did get hurt. Is
it frustrating you worked on those things and
still ended up banged up?
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I haven't really
thought about it too much like that. I ran the ball
more last year but was able to really get down and
avoid quite a bit of those and never really took all
that many shots and this year, that's just been how
it's been. Maybe people were out to get me and
want to really rip my head off, but I haven't really
paid too much attention to it.
Q. Two years ago, joining the SEC,
would you imagine the program having so
much success to start off with in the
DESHAZOR EVERETT: With the hiring of
Coach Sumlin, he's very good at motivation and
getting these kids to play at a high level. I wasn't a
part of it last year and I got to come in for the
second year, and just -- I've been at programs that
played Texas A&M, when I was at Oklahoma State
in 2010. And just to see the excitement that this
program and this university has after one year in
the SEC has been huge. And that's just with the
people that Coach Sumlin has put around and the
fan base and support; it doesn't surprise me at all
the success they are having in the SEC.
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I wasn't all that
surprised about it. Last year we were excited and
we felt like we let some games slip away before in
the second half. We were pumped up.
We talked about it being the best
visit our archives at asapsports.com
Texas A&M 12.29.13.doc 6
conference in the country and we were eager to
get in there and see how we stacked up, but
Coach Sumlin brought a great deal of energy and
really gets the most out of us.
Q. Did you talk a little about how
important it would be for this team to make it
three straight Bowl wins in three straight
DESHAZOR EVERETT: Very important.
The last game of the season is the first game of
the next year. So we want to start off next year
with a win under our belt, and we haven't finished
the last couple games the way we wanted to.
So finishing this Bowl game is going to be
the way we want to go out. So just being able to
participate in this Bowl game is a benefit for our
team, for the confidence level going into next year.
We just want to finish strong as a team.
Q. Can you talk about the difference of
this year not winning the Heisman Trophy and
maybe the pressure being alleviated from you
going into this Bowl game compared to last
year when you did win it going into the Cotton
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I didn't feel pressure
going into the Cotton Bowl last year. Just kind of
the same that I am right now, is really eager to play
and eager to get back on the field.
I think being a competitor, this time that we
have off from the end of November to pretty much
January 1, the new year, it's a lot of time of not
getting out there on the football field and playing,
playing against another opponent. We have seen
a lot of these guys in practice; I'm really getting
tired of going against him. He's been throwing
everything in the world at us in practice.
So tired of that and ready to get back on
the field in the Georgia Dome, which is a great
Q. Can you talk about, you mentioned
having those play calls right there next to you.
Are you excited to get that tempo up and to get
it back to where, like we saw it last year, where
it was quick and you were getting --
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Yeah, my biggest
thing is I want to get out and if we are going to
come out and throw the ball early, get some
completions and get a rhythm going and I think
everything comes from there.
You look at some of our games earlier in
the year, you start out a drive ten for ten, or five for
six, five for seven and you get some easy
completions, you're just playing pitch and catch
and you get to see the ball completed and really
gets your confidence up and gets you rolling from
there, and then we can really get first downs and
take it step-by-step and do what we want to do.
Q. This is the time last year when
things started just really changing for you after
the Heisman. You mentioned how things have
mellowed out at College Station; are you able
to sum up the past year and what it's been like
for you since this was the time it got cranking
for you on that front?
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Absolutely not. So
much has gone on in between last year at this
point and now. I feel like every week there's
almost been something. It's been a little bit of a
journey but I feel like I'm a lot better at handling it
now than I was last year at this point. Still no
regrets of anything in that regard, and I'm really
happy and content with where I am right now.
Q. The last two games, the rain at LSU
and Missouri it was really cold. Do you think
playing indoors will bring the offense back
better and how it affected the last few games?
COACH SPAVITAL: That's just football,
part of the conditions we're going to be playing in.
I see we're going to be playing in a dome, so I
don't think there's going to be any wind hopefully in
here. It's going to being a good atmosphere. It's a
very fast playing field, and I enjoy that because I
like to see our kids trying to play as fast as they
But there's not going to be any weather
conditions out there so I think we don't have any
excuses going into the game, so we'll just go out
there and leave it all on the line.
JOHNNY MANZIEL: Georgia dome, the
turf, it's really fast and we had fun, we're go out
there running around the past couple days. So I
think we are really excited about playing in that
venue and getting to play in a dome two years in a
row. It should be good.
Q. I know that Duke drove here but for
you guys to be an SEC country and be playing
in an SEC venue and to the Aggie faithful that
will turnout for the game.
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I'm really excited. I
think one of the best things about A&M, whatever
visit our archives at asapsports.com
Texas A&M 12.29.13.doc 7
Bowl game we would be playing, I think we travel
extremely well. Our fans are really passionate and
I think they are really excited about this game.
Like Coach Spav said earlier, even on TV,
there's going to be tons of people that watch us,
New Year's Eve, the only game on television. I
think I speak for me and Deshazor, everyone
involved with the team, really glad that we get the
fan base support that we do.
Q. Johnny is talking about confidence;
are you seeing that confidence from that
offense of them kind of getting back to their old
ways a little bit?
DESHAZOR EVERETT: Yeah, you see it
from all the receivers which I go against daily. I
don't go against the offensive line too much. I try
to stay out of their way.
The receivers, they are coming out, they
run their routes and they are catching the ball in
confidence. You don't see so many dropped balls
out there. Johnny is throwing it on point and we
are out there competing every day and the offense
is definitely getting us ready.
Q. If and when your last game is, what
do you want your legacy to be after you have
left Texas A&M?
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I just want to be
remembered as one of the best to have played at
A&M. Definitely don't like coming in second or
being second best at anything, so hopefully with
the things that we have done here as a team,
hopefully get a third Bowl win, have a big win in the
Cotton Bowl, Heisman Trophy -- inaudible -- we
have four finalists going to Orlando this year.
So far as a team, the past two, three years
that I've been here have been awesome. I think
throw Bowl wins, what we did last year at a team
with the Cotton Bowl and with the Heisman, I just
want to be remembered as one of the best.
Q. Can you describe the relationship
that you have been able to build with Johnny in
this past season?
COACH SPAVITAL: The way I learned
from Kliff and how you handle the quarterbacks,
you've got to be very close with them, because Kliff
always told me that if your kid goes out there and
he throws an interception, everybody in the entire
stadium knows he screws up. That's something,
the relationship that you build with the
quarterbacks are very, very close, because we
can't call perfect plays all the time and rely on him
to get us in the right place.
So we work together on it and working with
Johnny has been great. I've been pretty fortunate
to come in already with it inherited and taught by
Kliff and I just pretty much spent the time
developing a relationship with Johnny, and figuring
out what he does best and what he likes and pretty
much those relationships will continue on forever.
Q. Coach Sumlin had told us you had
kind of a newfound freedom this year; how
much did you enjoy that this season?
JOHNNY MANZIEL: I just feel like
beginning of this year, I was able to do what I was
doing probably game eight or nine of last year, so
more familiar last year with getting us into the right
play and being able to do all the freedom -- more
towards the end of last year and being able to
have that the beginning of this year was nice.
I'm sure we did it more this year just
because I was able to check and do things like that
more, in more games, but I don't feel like it was too
different. I feel like Coach McKinney and Coach
Spav, between the two of them, got us into some
pretty good plays this year. And if there was
something I didn't like or a blitz or a bad look or
something we looked at on film and saw we didn't
like, then I would check us out of it. But I don't
think it was much different than how I would
operate the offense last year.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports ...
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to email@example.com. Please provide detailed information.