Aggies meet the media prior to LSU game

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COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas A&M football team talked to the media at their weekly press conference. The 20th ranked Aggies are preparing for their game against No. 6 LSU at Kyle Field on Saturday.

On LSU’s defense
“They’re big and they’re fast. They’re a very, very talented group and you combine that with the fact that they’re well-coached. Coach Chavis does a great job with that group. They have a couple of really great pass rushers on the edge in Mingo and Montgomery – those two guys can change a game inside. They’re solid players and good sized. Their linebackers are leading them in tackles. Eric Reid as a deep safety can come out of center field on the perimeter and tackle in space. They’ve got a lot of good players. You combine that with a well-coached defense and great scheme, that’s what makes them good.”
On Johnny Manziel’s progress
“He’s progressing. He’s only played six games as a college player. His progression has been steady. On things that we couldn’t get done in the first game, we’ve really made some strides. He’s been in the pocket and gone through some progressions in the past couple of weeks on early downs and on third downs. We’ve demonstrated the ability to get the ball down the field vertically now. That’s not just the quarterback. You look at their big plays in the last couple of weeks, you’ve got a redshirt freshman throwing to a redshirt freshman. You’ve got to be able to understand coverages and things like that by both of them to be on the same page. There have been some strides with that. That being said, in the last couple of weeks, we haven’t seen the same defenses that we studied during the week. I know Coach Anderson is getting frustrated. We spend most of our time on the sideline trying to figure out what’s going on during the game because what we’ve watched on video is not what’s being played. That has a little bit to do with probably defending a double threat. The quarterback run game and his scramble ability and some of the sets we’re using – utilizing our tied ends, our backs - that can be confusing to our offensive line. The ability to communicate the other night I thought was the best job offensively. It’s not just the offensive line that’s responsible for that. The back has got to know what’s going on. The quarterback has got to know what’s going on from a protection issue and I thought we handled that very well.”
On Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews
“They’ve played well. Our line is the most experienced part of our team, by far, with five guys that have played in big games and been against great competition. I think that they continue to improve – both of them. We continue to practice at times during the season something that we’ve believed in for years We get a lot of one-on-one work – our No. 1 offensive line against our No. 1 defensive line in certain parts of the day in practice, particularly today and tomorrow. I think that they’re making our defensive ends better and that our defensive ends are making them better. We’ve got Damontre [Moore] and Julien [Obioha] is getting better. Those guys are pass rushing and we’re working against each other a couple of times a week, at least. Besides scheme, it makes you better. That’s what you want as a program. It’s been my experience that the better your talent level gets, and guys are working against each other, you make each other better. The fact that they get to work against Damontre – Damontre will go both sides a couple of different times – for him to get better, I think it’s helped both tackles and I think it’s helped Damontre and Julien and some of our young defensive ends.”
On the recruiting importance of playing LSU
“It’s important for both teams. LSU is over here pretty heavy, too. I think that moving to the SEC really helps us as far as expanding our footprint east. Because of the proximity to Louisiana and the two schools, obviously there are going to be some guys that both of us are interested in. I think right now, because we’re in the same league, we have the opportunity for maybe some more visits and to get guys on campus to really look at our game day atmosphere and our university. A game like this becomes great exposure for our university nationally, but also regionally as far as recruiting. It’s important just because of the proximity of the two schools.”
On winning habits
“I don’t want to be in a losing habit. Every week is different. How you approach a game and how you approach what you’re doing is important. Our guys are starting to understand that approach to the game doesn’t start late in the week, it starts early in the week. The three areas of preparation = emotional, mental, physical - you’ve got to have all three. In games that are close, you’re going to get tested in all three areas. We had 16 guys that played [on defense]. Partially, it was due to injuries and suspensions. The ability to get back suspended guys – Deshazor [Everett] coming back, a bunch of guys on the secondary to solidify that. That tested us physically because we had seven guys that played over 106 snaps a piece. When that happens, you get out of position a little bit. Those guys never came out of the game and played and finished in a no-huddle situation. We get our guys back this week and we’ll have a little bit more fire power and we’ll be alright. Really we played 21 guys on offense and 17 guys on defense so we played 38 guys on offense and defense in a four-hour game. We couldn’t get back here quick enough from Shreveport. ”

On performance against Louisiana Tech
“The goal was to get in there and get the win and we did. It wasn’t pretty, especially on our side of the ball. We got out there and got the win and the kids are done with their suspensions. We’re excited to move on. There were too many missed tackles. We just practice it. Get your head up and quit lunging. Some of the aggressive penalties, like pass interference, are going to happen. The late hits and things like that have to stop. Patton was the real deal. We may have made him look better than he really is. I think he’s a first round draft pick. He was really good.”
“I’m really excited for this week and the kids are too. They are a power running game and we have to get out there and stop it. You have to be versatile in what you do if you want to be good. You are going to face all kinds of different offenses. I think our guys are excited about this game. LSU is very Florida-like. They have the ability to take your heart and soul running the football and they showed that last week with South Carolina. They can run the ball efficiently. We’re going to have to do the best we can and build a wall and stop the running game. They have a stable of running backs and they come at you four at a time. We knew this day was coming. We’ve prepared for it. Even though we were playing some spread teams, we still dabble in the big running game part of it to keep our heads. Their quarterback is a good quarterback. He’s got some skills and he’s managing the game for them.”
On Damontre Moore
“He played his heart out. Him, Spencer Nealy, Donnie Baggs and Sean Porter were hurt and kept going for 100 and something plays. That’s the will and want and the fight in these kids right now. I felt bad for them, standing on the sidelines. They had to play. There was nothing else we could do. It’s good for them to get through that and get our guys back.”
On only playing 17 defensive players
“They got a lot of reps and they gained a lot of experience. We played two football games. You bring up Dustin Harris and Julien Obioha. That was valuable experience for those guys.”

On Johnny Manziel
“He’s made strides. He still has a long way to go but he’s improved and will keep that progress going. I think he’ll be fine with all the attention but it remains to be seen. It’s a learning process. He’s a confident kid, but not cocky. He just loves to play football and I’m sure he’ll remain the same. He believes in his ability, first and foremost. He’s a good kid and a hard worker. His teammates love him and you can see that. Every time he is out there, he is going to do whatever it takes to win the game. When he made the 80 yard tackle, it was awesome. That was the best part about the game. That just sums up the type of player he is. Whatever we ask him to do, he is going to do to the best of his ability. It doesn’t matter if he’s perfect, but he is going to fight and fight to try to help his teammates win the game.”
“You never know what LSU is going to throw at us. They have such great athletes and players that they can do whatever they want and it’s going to be a challenge. I don’t think you can just point out one area. They are in the top in every category. They have one senior starter, which is pretty amazing. One thing that jumps out is the effort. Watching 11 guys fly for the football on every snap is impressive. I have the utmost respect for this team. When you turn on the film, you see a hard-playing, hard-nose team and it goes along way.”
On offensive line
“It’s been fantastic. Johnny’s a tricky guy to block for, just because of the way he moves around. Watching their effort when he plays, they stay with their guys. They don’t just stand around while he runs. They move their feet and get the block and continue the block while he’s running around back there. I think, to go from how they blocked last year to this year and the effort they’ve shown is something that pops.”

On upcoming LSU game
“This week is going to be a little different than last week. Any time we play a team that likes to run the ball, it’s important for the safeties and DBs to get involved in the run game. This week is going to be a lot of power run games. We’re going to have to get in the box a little bit more and help out the linebackers. LSU can pick up their tempo at times, too. We need to be ready for anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried, after first down, to pick up the tempo. We’re going to have to tackle better and they are going to make our corners tackle. We’ve got a lot to pick up on defense. Games like these, physical games, test your toughness and your ability to be a physical team. That’s what we have to focus on this week.”
On preparing for games
“Coach Polian always says, “The season is not a marathon. It is twelve sprints.” We are really just focused on one game at a time. It will be great to be back at home at Kyle Field. There’s going to be a lot of energy. We’re not really worried about the next few on the road. You’ve got to just take it on one game at a time. When next week comes, we will focus on that. That’s what’s been getting us through the season so far. Anytime we play an SEC game, we have to have it circled in our minds, but every game out on Kyle Field is like that too. Home games are games that you have to bring it all. Every week from here on out is going to be important. It’s just one game at a time. It’s going to be exciting and we’re just ready to play.”
On performance against Louisiana Tech
“The penalty situation is just unacceptable. When you address something every week the way we address it, it has to show up on the field and that’s really unacceptable to have that many penalties. The same thing applies with tackling on defense. We need to make sure the things we practice all through the week show up during the game on Saturday.”

On how he’ll approach this game
“We approach it as any other game. We know as the front seven that ultimately, defensively, we’re going to determine how much success we have on defense. They’re going to come out and try to out-physical us and run the ball. If we’re able to stop them we’re going to have a lot of success on defense - If we’re forcing them into second-and-long and third-and-long. If there in second-and-short and third-and short, then it’s going to be a long day for us defensively.”
On whether this is the kind of game for a linebacker
“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a lot of running, a lot of downhill play. It won’t be 108-or-so snaps like it was last week. It will be 60-65-70 snaps. As a linebacker, of course you’re going to love this kind of game.”
On missing tackles at this point in the season
“It’s probably because our legs are tired. We go against a lot of good teams. They have good players, too. They’re on scholarship, too. They make plays and we make plays. Sometimes they don’t make plays and we make plays, and vice versa. A missed tackle is always a prominent part of football. Better defenses don’t miss near as many tackles as that. It’s a lot more important to make one-on-one tackles and it’s a lot tougher. When there’s nobody around you to follow up on blocks, he has free range to do whatever he wants to do.”

On offensive strategies
“We just have to play within our scheme and to the techniques that Coach Anderson teaches us. We have to play hard, play physical and play with a mean streak. Sometimes, blocking for Johnny gets a little hard. You just have to remember to do what the coaches tell you. You have to play to the whistle with Johnny because you never know what he is going to do. He seems to make a play work so you just have to play to the whistle and do what the coaches tell you to do.”
On LSU coach Les Miles’ comments about A&M
“We plan to prove people wrong. During the offseason we decided we were going to work harder to prove people wrong. We came together as a team. We didn’t come to the SEC to just to be a doormat. We want to compete and win championships. We’ve grown up and competed all of our lives. We want to win.”
On penalties against Louisiana Tech
“We realize that you can’t do that week in and week out and expect to win. We plan to minimize that as much as we can. There are lots of consequences in practice for penalties. We are just working on it day by day. We have to come out this week and be a smarter football team. Over the course of the game, there were some frustrations that led to the personal fouls. Coach Sumlin chalked that up to selfishness. As a team, we owned up to those and apologized to the team. We can’t be selfish football players and expect to win.”

On SEC defensive ends vs. Big 12 defensive ends
“They’re very similar. They’re both big-time conference football players but you see a little bit more depth in the SEC. The second-string guy is also as athletic as the guy ahead of him. You don’t really get as many plays off of in SEC football. Everyone is athletic. Everyone has speed. Every down is a challenge.”
On the LSU matchup
“I’m so excited. I’m so jacked up for this week. The preparation for it all, stuff like that. We’ve got a big week of practice ahead of us to fix a bunch of stuff. We know what kind of players we’re going to be up against. We know it’s going to be a fun challenge. They’ve got a good offensive line. They’ve got a good defensive line. It’s going to be a fun challenge and it will be an exciting game to watch on Kyle Field this weekend.”
On seeing a different defense from what was studied on film
“It’s a little bit different. Coach Anderson did a great job with us in the Louisiana Tech game. They showed us a lot of things that we hadn’t really seen on film. They brought a lot more blitzes than they had in previous games. They brought a lot of different stuff than we scouted for. But we made great adjustments on the sideline. What helps a ton is communication through all five offensive linemen – everyone talking to each other, everyone telling everyone what they see, stuff like that. That’s probably the biggest part. Especially in this league, you’ve got to be able to adjust on the fly.”

On LSU defense
“I know that they are very athletic. They have guys like Craig Lawson who can run around and definitely hit you. They have very athletic and lengthy cornerbacks. It should be a good test for us. I think football is football. You are always going to get hit hard and go up against someone who brings it. We expect this to be a very physical game.”
On offensive line
“I think they pretty much did what they do and they didn’t adjust to what we did. We brought in guys like Malcome Kennedy, who can stretch the defense, and Derel Walker, who also did a good job of that. They had to respect that.”
On younger players getting to play
“It was pretty fun seeing guys like LeKendrick Williams score his first touchdown and just knowing how hard that guy has been working and how much he has improved over the years, it was heartwarming to get to see him play. It was also great that guys like Malcome Kennedy stepped up, too. The younger players have definitely fit into the scheme. They took this offense and are gelling with it pretty well. They do a good job of working in practice and perfecting their routes. They learned the scheme and took it on the run.”

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