Aggies and Sooners spend part of New Years Day with media

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IRVING, Texas -- Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was one of five Aggie offensive players to meet with the media on Tuesday morning at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas leading up to the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Wide receivers Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu along with offensive lineman Luke Joeckel and running back Ben Malena were also on hand. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin joined the players.

Joeckel said he has not thought about whether he will come back to Texas A&M for his senior season or declare for the NFL draft. "I am lucky to have a dad, he has kind of been through it a little bit when he was at Texas Tech and also he has been doing a ton or research for me and talking to a bunch of different people" Joeckel added, "I am just lucky enough to have him and I can focus solely on playing Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl."

Before the Aggies arrived Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and four Sooners defensive players met with the media.

Texas A&M and Oklahoma will meet on January 4 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The AT&T Cotton Bowl will be televised on Fox at 7:00pm.

Oklahoma Sooners Defensive News Conference
On his initial impression of Johnny Manziel: “He doesn’t try to be anybody he is not. He plays to his
strengths extremely well and to whom he is as a football player. He uses his gifts to help them win and that
is what any great quarterback or player does. He knows exactly what he can and can’t do. His ability to
extend and create plays, there’s not a defense created to defend against that.”
On the youth of Johnny Manziel: “Sometimes it’s better when you don’t know and have no
expectations. You can go in there and fly by the seat of your pants and do what is instinctually instinctive.
Those instincts usually as for a football player are the most important qualities you can have.”
On stopping Johnny Manziel: “I don’t think you stop him. Nobody has been able to stop him. I think you
try to contain him and try to limit his big plays. Being able to keep him in the pocket is easier said than
done. They do a great job creating run plays for him to get him into open space. People don’t realize, but
the offensive line does a great job of creating space for him.”
On the impact of both offensive tackles for Texas A&M: “Those two guys, they can keep people from
closing in. They both do a great job of keeping people in front of them and make space around them. As a
unit on their football team, their offensive line is probably their greatest strength. It all starts up front on any
football team.”
On deciding factor to head to the NFL: “The main thing is just finding out everything I need to know.
There are still a few things that I am unsure about as far as what they want and what they need.”
On Johnny Manziel and how similar he is to Robert Griffin III: “I would say in some ways they are
similar. They both a great a creating plays when there are no plays. They both find a way to win. They both
do great things and that is why they both won the Heisman Trophy.”
On the familiarity of Texas A&M: “It is a good thing because you know what they like to do. We know
what to expect when we go out there. We know the great players they have and who they are. Being able
to play them the past few years, it will be good to see them again this week.”
On being able to rattle Johnny Manziel: “I think we can and I know we will have the opportunity to do it.
It will come down to us being disciplined and doing our assignments.”
On facing someone similar to Johnny Manziel: “I would say Robert Griffin. I don’t think he was as
elusive as Johnny as far as running the ball, but you deal with them in similar ways.”
On who should have won the Heisman Trophy: “I think Johnny deserved it. For a defensive guy, you
don’t see that happen often even though I was rooting for Tao.”
On Texas A&M being an old foe: “You know, it’s a ballgame. I think whether we are playing Texas A&M
or anyone else, our goal is to win the game. We are going to go out there on Friday and compete.”
On waiting to play: “That is the worst part. You sit around and you’re watching all the other bowl games
happen, you say, “Man, I wish our bowl game was today.” However, I understand that we have to wait for a
reason and when the time comes we will be ready to play.”
On his confidence in the Oklahoma offense: “They have been good all year. Landry does a good job of
leading those guys. I’m comfortable in them and what they can do. We see them every day; we know what
they can bring to the table.”
On the Oklahoma offensive line: “I think our offensive line has been great at adapting to who they go
against. They’re not the biggest or the most intimidating guys, but they have a way of flowing together and
making the plays. They are fast flowing for an offensive line and I think that is an advantage they have over
other people.”
On all the talk about Johnny: “The talk is getting old and I’m sure it is getting old for him too. I think we
all want to get to the game and stop all the talk. I’m ready for it and I am sure he is ready for that too.”
Texas A&M Aggies Offensive News Conference
On running back Ben Malena playing so many roles on team: “I think it says a lot about him as a
person, as a leader as a leader by example. People could not understand early in the year while he was
playing and some others weren’t. It is kind of like the quarterback race, it wasn’t because the other guys
were bad players, and he just outplayed them. He has been critical to what we have been trying to do as a
coaching staff by rewarding players who do it all the time. I don’t know there is another guy in the country
that has had the production he has had at running back and then winds up on kickoff return, is a point guy
really directing traffic, protector on punt (team) that directs all the protections and runs down the field on
kickoff coverage. This guy is crazy. You would think a guy like him would like to return punts, but he wants
to get out there and block. I’m extremely appreciative of his efforts.”
On decision for Coach Sumlin to attend offensive press conference and coaching roles for game:
“We have a lot going on. We have a lot of moving parts. Anything like this, we have a system in place.
Clarence McKinney (running backs coach), David Beaty (wide receivers coach) and B.J. Anderson
(offensive line coach) understand what is going on. Clarence is the play caller for this game. I think there is
a lot involved with that. Obviously we have some meetings that have to take place. Anytime they are with
you guys (media) that is 45 more minutes that they could be getting better. I thought I would just come out
here today.”
On what he wants his stamp to be on this program: “We need to get back to the national stage. That
is where we need to be. I wouldn’t have come to Texas A&M if I didn’t think that was possible. You look at
today, I think the players would tell you, the amazing stat is that I talk all the time about perception versus
reality. There is a lot of criticism about our place and some of it is true and some of it is not. I think all of
our players, you try to find a way to motivate guys. The last game of the year against Missouri wasn’t
about we haven’t beat Missouri in the last three years, which was a big deal. It was more about the fact
that there were only 11 teams in the 117 years to win 10 games at A&M. And there have been three teams
in 117 teams to win 11 games. So criticism warranted or not, those are the facts. So these guys
understand that they have the opportunity to win 11 games which is a big deal. And by the standards of the
team we are playing it is completely different. That is why we are different points in our program and we
are trying to get to that point. I think we have the resources, the support and a lot of different things in
On whether Texas A&M is back on the national stage: “That is something you have to deal with every
year. One year does not a program make. We made some real strides this year I think in order to do that.
So because of that I think it has helped us from a recruiting standpoint. I think it has helped us, without a
doubt, from an exposure standpoint. Without a doubt, it has helped us. To get back on the national stage,
you have to be able to sustain a program. One of the reasons I came to Texas A&M was because of that. I
think you have to have the right couple or three things to do that. It is hard to get. Obviously Oklahoma has
been able to do that for the last 14 years. We are in the early stages of that, but I think a year like this
there is no way that could hurt you, particularly from a recruiting standpoint. We have to increase the profile
of our team, size wise and we have to increase our talent level if that is where we want to be.”
On what it is like for his teammates with handling the attention Johnny Manziel is getting: “I think
it is really cool. You don’t see that every day, a Heisman Trophy winner on your football team. We are
absorbing it. We have a goal here and we can’t get sidetracked. Our ultimate goal is to win this football
game. The award is great for Johnny, but I know Johnny to well, he is not going to get caught up with this.
He knows what is at stake for us to win a bowl game.”
On as a senior what it would mean to get a win on Friday: “It would be huge. I was talking to Sean
Porter, Steven Terrell and the seniors that we have been so close, Patrick Lewis all those guys, Spencer
Nealy, we were talking about how fast it goes by. We are such a tight knit group of guys and we just really
had a special group this year. I think it really showed just the chemistry of the football team. There is so
much character on this football team. It was a group of seniors that are hungry to win. It is going to be very
emotional after the game. I will miss seeing all those guys after playing four years with them. We are going
to miss that, but we really want to come out and perform at a really high level on Friday.”
On maturation of the offense throughout the season: “I think that there was a comfort zone we had to
get in. Once Johnny (Manziel) got in that comfort zone, once we got comfortable with that offense it is a
deadly offense. You just have to practice hard. It is one of those offenses that is very exciting and once it
starts rolling it is really hard to stop. It is fun to be a part of and I can’t wait to play a Big 12 school and see
how we do.”
On how coaching staff’s approach of not talking about the past, helped team move past previous
years’ disappointments: “It did a whole lot. One of the things Coach Sumlin always says is that this is a
new season, this is a new team. After every game, he would be like we want to be 1-0 at the end of the
week. He doesn’t like to dwell on anything. Everything is new for him.”
On how Johnny Manziel’s ability to run the ball helps wide receivers: “It is pretty cool, because
when you have a guy that can run around like Johnny (Manziel) can and win the Heisman Trophy and things
like that. People have to look at the way he runs the ball, defensive backs have to worry about him running
the ball. They aren’t worried about receivers running routes. It puts them in a bind and it eases off a little
pressure for us and hopefully we can make plays off of that.”
On how you know as a receiver when Manziel is taking off running with the ball: “There is a
distinct look in his eye that we kind of know, he is going to run this one. He is going to try to make a play
with his feet. Ryan (Swope) and I definitely go try to look for people (to block). We always try to take
account of who has the best hit or who is being more aggressive and things like that. We compete on that.

On change with Coach Clarence McKinney calling offensive plays: “I think it feels about the same.
I’m just and offensive lineman. I go out there I run block, I pass block. There are different things in both of
those. We have been moving the ball well in practice. Losing Kliff (Kingsbury) was big. He was such a great
offensive coordinator for us. He is a great coach. He is definitely a cool guy to follow and I enjoyed having
him with us. I’m glad he is at (Texas) Tech. It is great for him. It is such a great opportunity. With my Dad
being a Texas Tech grad, he is definitely excited about that. I think it is about the same. Coach McKinney
has done a great job. I think we will be just fine in the Cotton Bowl.”
On how team reacted to disappointment of Florida loss: “It definitely was a disappointing loss, losing
to Florida. We were so close and we just couldn’t finish in the second half. We saw so many great things
that game because we really didn’t know what our identity would be, what type of team we were going to
be. I think it was good for us to play a good team in Florida that first game to see we could compete with a
team like that and that type of defense and offense too. I think we gained a lot of comfort even though we
lost it.”
On whether ever been part of a team with so many unknowns entering season …new league,
new coach, new quarterback: “I have not. I think last year we had so many high expectations for our
team and things didn’t work out. We couldn’t finish games in the second half. This year was totally different.
We had no expectations for us and I believe we overachieved a little bit. We had a redshirt freshman
winning the Heisman (Trophy) which is crazy. He deserves it. We have a pretty good offensive line that
came together. I think that was the only part we knew we could be at going into the season. We had four
or five guys who had significant playing time as starters all coming back. I think we got better every single
game as an offensive line.”
On perhaps being overlooked as Outland Trophy winner because of Heisman winner being on
same team: “That is all right with me. Growing up in an offensive lineman family my entire life, I definitely
have lived behind in the background my whole life and I am OK with that. That is part of being an offensive
lineman. Winning the Outland (Trophy) was just an amazing opportunity. But I think the four other guys on
the offensive line deserve as much as I did. What helped me win it was being a part of such a great
offensive line at Texas A&M and blocking for such a great quarterback like Johnny (Manziel).”
On how he prepares for all the different roles he plays on the team (offense, special teams): “It is
kind of fun actually. I’m here in my hometown enjoying it all, but at the same time getting prepared for the
task at hand. It is (extra work), but it is something I take pride in. It is something that you have to pay
attention to with me playing all the special teams I have to learn my alignment and my assignment not just
on the offensive side of the ball, but on special teams. Sometimes it gets kind of tough studying and
preparing for it, but once I get it all down I am able to go out there and help my team.”
On what winning the Cotton Bowl would mean: “Only three teams have won 11 games (at A&M). It
would be great to be team number four. First year in the SEC, Heisman Trophy winner, Outland Trophy
winner, four All-Americans, this could be one of the best years A&M has ever had.”
On how running backs: “I think we have had great production out of all three of our running backs. All
three of our running backs are playing at a high level right now. It was kind of shaky when the year started,
but we just bought into it. The offensive line got better, we got better with our technique, with our
assignments, with where our eyes are supposed to be and the running game really took off.”
On what jumps out to you on film when you look at Oklahoma: “They are athletic in how they fly
around and fly to the ball. The athletes they have on their field they stick out just like that. As soon as you
turn on the film, you see how fast they are and how athletic they are and how they jump off the page.”
On a teammate who has made the biggest strides this season: “(Center) Patrick Lewis is a guy that
sticks out for me. People don’t realize how much the center, how much that really makes the motor go in
our offense. For Pat, he has really quickened things up and tried to move at a completely difference pace
than what we were at the beginning of the year. I feel like that is something that helped us in the Alabama
game and all the games toward the end of the season. We really got things rolling as fast as possible and
everybody really got adjusted to the tempo.”
On when you felt like you had a full grasp of the offense: “Arkansas was a big week for us.
Everything that we kind of wanted to do, we had our game plan and things we wanted to do with check,
check, check and went down it and did everything we really wanted to do. That is not saying anything bad
about Arkansas we just really just executed what we wanted to do. At that point, making some checks that
we did and doing some stuff it really started to open up.”

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