Tuesday, October 1, 2013 – College Station, Texas
Texas A&M Football Weekly Press Conference
HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
"Thinking back to last week, that was a great experience for our team and a great experience for our fans. I appreciate everyone who traveled up there. We had a lot of folks up there sitting in the rain. It made a really good environment. We answered some challenges both offensively and defensively. We played a different style. We did some things we haven't done here in the past. That’s probably the first series we’ve ever had since we’ve been here that we didn’t attempt a pass and were able to score. That says a lot about our team and our versatility and where our confidence factor is with the offensive line. It says a little bit about the maturity level of our team. For a quarterback, sometimes it’s not the most fun thing to hand the ball off every snap, especially for our guy. He operated well. Our team operated well. We answered some challenges in the fourth quarter against a team that is very well-coached. It's a good win for us. It brings us to the bye week, which we need. Unlike last year, in which we had 12 straight games because of the hurricane, this year is a lot different. Five games in, we’ve got some guys limping around. We've got some guys we need to get healthy for the next stretch of games. We'll get back into game week next week to get ready for Ole Miss."
On maturity of Johnny Manziel:
“I’ve had a bunch of people ask me about his maturity. I don’t know what the difference is, statistically. I think he’s done a better job of seeing the field and not bailing right away. He’s used pretty good judgment in getting out of bounds and sliding. He’s probably slid more in the first five games than he slid all of last year, which is another sign of growing up. He’s protecting the football and not being reckless. What you also see is his understanding of the offense and freedom to adjust the play. He’s got some parameters, but he’s been able to get us into some good plays. Everybody talks about the quarterback calling the perfect play. That’s not what it’s about for us. His job is to keep us out of horrendous plays. He understands that a lot more this year than in year one.”
On the defense:
"We need to move forward. As soon as we get something going, something else happens. I think Darian Claiborne gives us an improvement from a tackling perspective. Are we fitting everything right now? No, but we’re better than we were. I think consistency up front will really help us. Steven Jenkins being back full time has helped us. We really solidified who we are. It'll be interesting to see. We'll be putting Isaiah Golden back on the field. That was the best game Alonzo (Williams) played. He had a bunch of tackles and held them up at the point of attack. We're not there yet. We need to get off the field. If you watch the film, we had the fewest number of mental errors, but they were critical. One guy didn’t make his assignment and it resulted in a touchdown. Those two backs at Arkansas are some great backs. They’ve put 100 yards rushing on everybody. They had a great plan. They threw all kinds of stuff at us and really kept us off balance. I think we made enough stops and got in good situations with the ball. When you go on the road and win the turnover battle, you're usually going to win the game. We’ve really harped on that. As our defense gets better, we’ve got to be opportunistic and create turnovers. Offensively, we've got to hang on to the ball and have success running.”
On the bye week:
“There are some teams where you don’t want a week off, like last year. You’re a hot team and you want to keep playing. We need some time. I think everyone getting off the plane was walking slowly and it wasn’t because it was wet. We’ve played a lot of young guys. Everyone thinks about the physical strength of playing through week five or six, but the harder part is the mental strain. You’ve got the first round of exams and quizzes coming through that these young guys have to handle. For our team, the bye week comes at a great time. We need this week, both physically and mentally. This is the first time in a long time we haven’t had a practice or a lift. I think that’s a positive thing.”
DEFNESIVE COORDINATOR MARK SNYDER
On the defensive improvements in the second half against Arkansas:
"It was good to see the improvements. I thought one thing we did well was the halftime adjustments. I credit our offense big time. The way they were able to take the game and run the clock was huge.”
On playing more consistently:
"We're getting some continuity. We need to have some consistency. We play well in spurts. I thought we played pretty well in the second half for the most part. They did a good job of showing us some things we hadn’t seen. Consistency is the key for us, but I do see improvement.”
On the bye week:
"We'll concentrate on fundamentals and consistency. We have to get ready to play Ole Miss. There’ll be a balance in our preparation this week.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CLARENCE McKINNEY
On having four quality running backs:
"It's a luxury. It’s really good to see all four of those guys out there. Not only are they being competitive in the game, they’re being competitive with each other. That's how they do it every day."
On improving the offense:
"The offense is definitely not where we want it to be. Our goal is to score a touchdown on every possession. We haven’t done that yet. We convert about 54% on third down and about 80% in the red zone. We’d like to be 100% on both of those. I think we've done a really good job of holding on to the ball. We’ve got to cut down on the penalties, though.”
On zero turnovers against Arkansas:
"We talked to our guys about the weather conditions before the game. We didn’t change anything. We focus on ball security every day in practice. We practice carrying the ball the safest way, no matter the weather conditions. We do a ball security circuit every day after practice.”
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