COLLEGE STATION, Texas Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin, offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and selected players on the Aggie football team met with the media Tuesday afternoon before Texas A&M faces Ole Miss on Saturday.
The Aggies are coming off a bye week. Ole Miss lost to Auburn 30-22 last Saturday. Texas A&M beat Ole Miss last season in Oxford 30-27 despite tuning the ball over six times.
The Aggies and Rebels will kick-off at 7:30 Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.
HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
"The bye week came at a good time for us as a program. Most people think of the physical toll that it takes on a team, and that's true, but when you have so many new guys playing, there's a mental stress, too. It was a great time for that break. We’re right at the two month period between the start of the season and the SEC Championship game. We got a break right in the middle of our season. Our players needed the break, especially the younger guys. The stress to perform and be consistent is difficult. You throw on the first round of tests and quizzes; it can be difficult for a young college kid. Last week was good for us. We’re back into game preparation week. I like where our mindset is. We’re ready to get back and get ready for Ole Miss."
On the differences from Ole Miss’ team last year:
"I don't know that they're very different from last year’s team. They have a lot of their main pieces back. Whenever you have a quarterback that returns for you, you’re very excited as a coach. That’s one less thing you’ve got to worry about as far as experience. They made some good acquisitions on the perimeter. They've got really good skill guys on the outside. Donte Moncrief and Ja-Mes Logan have been there for a long time. They had a great recruiting year. The young guys they’ve been putting on the field are really good. They have really good team speed. They're athletic across the board, both offensively and defensively. They’re explosive. The receivers are all 6 feet 3 inches tall. They have a dynamic running back that can get loose. We’ve got to be able to tackle. Defensively, they made a lot of strides. They’re a sound football team. They're a little bit like that stretch that we had last year when they played several games on the road. That’s tough, especially when you’re playing a lot of young guys out there. They’re happy to be back home. It’s going to be a big deal for them. As a football team, they’re as advertised. They've played some good people. You look at how they played in those games and see that things could be different for them with a play here or there. They're a very talented, well coached team. They’ve got a lot of pride. It’ll be a tough ballgame.
On Tra Carson:
"We've known about him for a long time. He and Brandon (Williams) were both in Houston around Coach McKinney, but they decided to go somewhere else. They played as young guys. Within the first three months of us getting here at Texas A&M, they both wanted to come back. They both knew each other coming out of high school. I thought it would be hard for us to recruit a guy that was that good. They both understood they had to sit out. They knew Trey Williams was on his way here too. They understand that they were all different. We had a history of playing two or three running backs in the offense and utilizing talents and keeping them healthy. He's a guy that gives us more substance. He’s 230 pounds. He was really out of shape last year. Everyone gave him a hard time about it. He worked his way into it this summer. I think you can see that he gives us an added dimension at running back that we haven’t had before. We like where all of our guys are right now. They're doing a great job of blocking and playing without the ball for each other.”
On the improvements of quarterback Johnny Manziel:
"We encourage him to win. We go back to the video and discuss what he does. He's a little different from most people. Everybody sees that he's improved as a quarterback. What one person sees as an improvement is different than someone else. It all gets back to what is the best thing for us to be successful on that play. It's about not giving the other team the ball and not giving up negative plays. We're not telling him every play 'you need to do this and this and this.' That limits his game. That’s what makes him different. He’s matured when he takes off. He's probably slid more in the last two weeks than he's slid in his life. He’s going through his reads. It's a comfort level for both sides. He’s more comfortable being in his second year back there. He has freedom within the offense to check plays rather than him being stuck and having to take off and run with it. He has the ability now to look at some things and change the play to something that has a high probability of not being a negative play. It has nothing to do with telling him not to run as much. It has to do with his overall growth and development as a quarterback."
On the win against Ole Miss last season:
"You can point back to that and say that was a pretty big deal based on what I heard about the year before. Everyone says we would’ve lost that game the prior year. I think the emotion that was in the locker room came as a culmination of us being able to go on the road and win our first SEC game. People want to say we did that against a team that hadn’t won however many games, but they ended up being a thorn in everyone’s side. They're a tough team to beat. I understand that. You take steps as a program. Us going on the road and winning our first SEC game on the road was a big deal for this program. It was a step in the right direction. I wasn't here the year before, but I heard all the stories and how we wouldn't win those types of football games a year before. There was a lot of emotion after the game. There's no doubt it helped us gain confidence as the season went along."
DEFNESIVE COORDINATOR MARK SNYDER
On facing a similar up-tempo offense to A&M’s offense:
"It's a different type of offense than our offense. They do things a little bit differently. It's good to go up-tempo and see it every day in camp. It helps them by having them find me and get the call in so they can get lined up. It’s definitely an advantage.”
On Ole Miss’ offense:
"They're good. Bo Wallace does a really good job of distributing the ball and running that offense. Moncrief is a really good receiver. It helps us having to go against Mike Evans every day. I think Logan runs great routes and Laquon Treadwell is a great player. We've got our challenges out there on the outside. They’ll spread you out and run the quarterback. Coach Hugh Freeze does a great job. He knows that offense in and out. He does a nice job of changing it up for people.”
On the defenses Ole Miss has faced:
"Nobody's really slowed them down. They've slowed themselves down. I’m sure they’re going to work extremely hard on that. It'll be a heck of a challenge for us.”
On slowing down Ole Miss:
"You can't center on one thing. That’s what makes them a good offense. We knew they had nine returning starters. Any time you return the starting quarterback, it gives you a chance to score some points. We're going to have to throw different things at him.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CLARENCE McKINNEY
On the win against Ole Miss last season:
"Anytime you win a game where you have six turnovers, you feel like you got out of there with a gift. If you turn the ball over six times, you don’t expect to win. Mike Evans made a great play to get us started there at the end. It was a lot of fun.”
On the receiving corps:
"I really like the guys we have. They all have a certain skill set. You have the star in Mike Evans and everyone else has a role that they play well. There are some other teams out there that have some good receivers, but we really like the guys we have.”
On offensive goals:
"Our goal as an offense is to score touchdowns every time we get on the field. We focus on getting first downs and scoring touchdowns. When it doesn't happen, everyone’s disappointed. We want to be 100% on third down and in the red zone. Those things result in touchdowns. Hopefully it happens a lot more than it doesn’t happen. I just want to score more points than the other team. If that means that we score one touchdown in ten tries and they don’t score at all, I’m happy at the end of the day. We’ll have to improve on that. When we’re going against our defense in practice we try and score touchdowns and we’re disappointed when we don’t.”
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