Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 – College Station, Texas
Texas A&M Football Weekly Press Conference
HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
End of Opening Statement
"Moving into this week, for us, it's our first league game, and our goal is to win the West and get to Atlanta and win the SEC Championship. In order to do that, you start with your league, in particularly your division. This week becomes our first league game. Our fans are excited, obviously our guys are excited, and it’s going to be a heck of a game.”
On guys having a business as usual approach:
"I said this summer, for our former students, our community, the university, and for our fans, excitement level is as probably as high as it's been. As a coaching staff and as an organization, we have to remain really consistent. Really good programs and organizations are consistent in their approach. That’s what we’re trying to do. This is our second year in the league. We're just getting started. I think it is important internally for us to remain consistent in our approach and our players feel that. It's fine for our fans. I want them to be as excited as they’ve ever been. I want this place to be as loud as it’s ever been on Saturday afternoon. I'm glad to hear our players reflecting that approach.”
On leadership opportunities the Alabama game presents:
"Every game presents leadership possibilities. I think different players continue to grow. We don’t have a lot of seniors on this team. We do have a number of guys who have played in meaningful games over the course their career. There will be leadership opportunities in any ball game. We’ve had those arise in the first two weeks. Even though the score may not be indicative of those opportunities from the outside looking in, you see the growth of players in certain situations. Being able to talk to those guys on the sideline is all a part of it. That's how you grow as a team. Every game will present those types of challenges for a number of players.”
On the impact of this game on recruiting:
"It's already had an impact. We've got a large number of prospects that are going to be here. The move to the SEC has been a boost for us. I think it wouldn’t be as big of a boost if we didn’t have some sort of success in the league as we did last year. We didn't have all the success we wanted. We were extremely competitive and won a big game last year. All that being said, I think the ability to compete and win in this league has really helped us out in recruiting. You don't have a stage like this for this weekend if you’re not a competitive program. I think that high school coaches in this state do a fantastic job of coaching. I think student athletes recognize that too. We’ve got a great situation here from a stability standpoint, from a support standpoint, from a facility standpoint, and from a league standpoint. You don't have to go 700 miles away to get all those things. That has been a big selling point for us since we got here. That message has been driven home every week we play in the SEC and not just play, but play in meaningful games on big stages.”
On Johnny Manziel handling his intensity:
"I think he does a good job of that every week. The intensity and emotion that he plays with is part of his game. I don’t think that anybody around college football that watches him play denies that. As I've said before, our job and his job is to channel that type of emotion into a positive way of doing things. For the most part he does that. That's what separates him from a lot of people is how he plays the game and the emotion and intensity he plays the game particularly at that position which you don’t see a lot.”
On CBS having camera on Manziel:
"To me, everything we try to do here at Texas A&M is about team. It’s about building our team and building our program, not being an individual. Saturday afternoon, you're going to have two football teams on the field. I don't understand why there's got to be one guy singled out with a camera on him the entire time. That’s not what we’re trying to be about. That’s not what we’re trying to promote. Certainly, from my standpoint looking out, all the criticism about individualism on a football team, I don't think this helps enhance a team concept one bit.”
On the kicking game:
"I think the kicking game will be a big factor in this game. All you have to do is look at what they’ve done in the return game. It was a huge factor in the Virginia Tech game. They did an excellent job. They’ve got really good skilled players. Alabama is a great defensive football team, they’ve got great players. They've had a week of extra preparation. They’re going to understand what they’re doing. I think where people are getting it confused is they struggled a little bit on offense two weeks ago. They've got tremendous weapons on the parameter at wide receiver and a fabulous running back in TJ Yeldon, who has played in big games. They have the potential with home run threats across the board and with a quarterback who understands what they’re doing. They're an overall team and that’s what Alabama has been known to do. They struggled a little bit on offense last week, defensively played well, and special teams scored points and gave them short fields. They're a great team. They understand what they're doing to win football games. We're going to have to match that with our special teams play. We had a high snap on one of them. It’s not all Taylor Bertolet’s fault. Any game like this, who knows what’s going to happen? It could be a number of things that factor into a win or a loss. Our kicking game is improving and will continue to improve as the year goes on.”
On seeing A&M being the next Alabama:
"I wouldn't have come to Texas A&M if I didn't believe we had the ability to be one of the top programs in the country. I think the combination of a lot of things have led to our success between seasons. We talked about recruiting and being able to recruit at a high level. I think we are accomplishing that. Being in the SEC is one thing, but if you're getting beat down in the SEC every week like people said was going to happen to us, I don’t know that we’d be able to recruit at the level that we can recruit right now. I know that people understand, players understand that, and coaches understand that. We give players in this state, even in this region a choice of a different league, arguably the best league in the country to play in games like this Saturday. There's an appeal to young players for that and it should be. If you invest that much time with what you do in high school, junior high, and everything else at a certain point in your life when you choose a university from an academic standpoint, we're extremely competitive. You also want the ability to play in meaningful games and against the best. Right now, we provide that opportunity, certainly for guys 5-6 hours from here that maybe a few years ago that wasn’t the case.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MARK SNYDER
On having the defense back at full strength:
“The guys want to go out there and get everything started. They’re eager to knock a little bit of the rust off. It was really good yesterday to have our first unit out there together. It was very pleasing to see.”
"We're playing a very good football team. Obviously, the national spotlight is there, but I’m more worried about the people we’re getting ready to play. Alabama is a very well-coached team. They play hard. They're really, really good at what they do."
On Alabama’s offensive line:
"Coach Saban is going to do what Coach Saban does. They’ve won a lot of games doing it. Why change? There’s not a dramatic drop off between last year’s team and this year’s team. Their left tackle is still really good. Their right guard is still really good. They got their feet wet from the first game and now they've had a couple weeks to prepare. We’ll expect them to give it their best."
On having Deshazor Everett back for a full game:
"He can bring a wealth of experience. He’s been on the big stage and played against the team we’re getting ready to face. He performed pretty well last year. Not great, but pretty well. It's great to have him back. This corps of receivers will be the best we've seen all year. They’re really good and really fast."
On Steven Jenkins:
"Steven Jenkins played pretty well for us in this game last year. He played pretty well last year for us in general. Just to have that confidence out there on the field, that swag, was permeating throughout the team yesterday in practice.”
On Head Coach Kevin Sumlin:
"I think he's a really good football coach, in more ways than one. It’s not just the X’s and O’s. It’s the way he handles the players. He tells them the truth. We follow suit. Kids appreciate that. It develops a trust with them. When you gain their trust, they play hard for you, when they play hard for you, you’ve got a chance to win the game. We've got a game this week and we're going to prepare exactly like we always do and we’ll leave the zoo outside the lines. Coach Sumlin does a fantastic job of that."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CLARENCE MCKINNEY
On what Johnny Manziel will have to do to be successful this week:
"They're a really good defensive football team. He's going to have to be at his best, whether it's staying in the pocket or running around or whatever we’re asking him to do. He’s going to do everything at a high level.”
On establishing the run:
"It's always important. When you establish the run game, it allows you to open things up with the pass. This is probably the best front we’ll play against all year so I don’t think it’s going to be that simple for us to establish the ground game. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
On the receiving corps:
"Mike Evans has taken his game to a whole other level. A guy who didn’t start last year but has come along pretty well is Malcome Kennedy. He had that big catch in the Alabama game last year. He’s one of our leaders. Derel Walker is a guy who has played some but has taken on a much bigger role this year as well as Sabian Holmes. Those guys were backups last year. Now they're looked at to be our leaders.”
On Alabama’s defense:
"I was just up there visiting with our coaches and we were trying to find a weakness in that defense. No matter where you look, there are no weaknesses. Those guys are solid across the board. They play hard. They play fast. They’re big up front. They’re athletic on the back end. They’re experienced. We can’t find any weaknesses.”
JUNIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN CEDRIC OGBUEHI
On playing the benefits of playing Alabama last year:
"It helps. They’re a great team. They're big and strong. We know what to look forward to when we play them. They play physical. They play hard. They play fast. They're a team that's confident. They believe they're going to win."
On the team’s mindset going into the game:
"If we win this game and lose the next game, it doesn't matter that we won this one. This is our first game in the SEC this year. We're looking to start 1-0 in conference. We'll just keep trucking afterward. It's the third game of the year. We still have nine more games left."
On what beating Alabama last year meant:
"I think that game put us on the map. It showed we were a team that came to the SEC ready to play. It showed we can beat anyone on the schedule at any time. It showed we could compete with the big boys."
On the anticipation for the fans:
"The fans are really happy. I'm glad we put ourselves in this situation, to have the fans excited. We go into it with the same mentality. We're just looking to keep trucking after this one."
On moving to right tackle:
"I feel really comfortable. So far I've done pretty well I think. This week is going to be the biggest challenge, by far. I've gotten better with my technique and my hands. I'm just really comfortable."
JUNIOR DEFENSIVE BACK DESHAZOR EVERETT
On Alabama’s wide receivers:
"They have some great receivers over there. We’re going to have to do what we do every day at practice because we’ve got some pretty good receivers also. We're just going to go out there and have fun.”
On Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper:
"He's a good receiver, probably one of the best I've faced. He has great speed and runs crisp routes. It's going to be hard to get someone to mimic that in practice so I’m going to have to go off what I saw last year and prepare for that.”
On the progression of the defense:
"We can only progress. We have to get better and we will keep getting better. This week at practice is crucial. That's what we're trying to improve on is where our weaknesses are.”
On the team’s approach to the game this week:
"If you approach it like it's the Super Bowl then you're going to be nervous and do things you don’t normally do. You have to approach it like it’s any other week. You have to go out there knowing you have to play football and have to bring your A game. It is a big game. We’re going to go out there and play hard like we always do.”
On the teams focus and motivation:
"It's a high level of excitement but it’s definitely making us focus more. We’re working harder in practice. We’re watching more film. We want to prepare to be great out there this Saturday.”
SENIOR RUNNING BACK BEN MALENA
On the need to be able to run the ball this week:
"It's very important. We can run the ball with the four running backs that we have. We need to keep them honest and not sit back and try and stop Johnny. We do have other players on this team that can go out and execute at a high level.”
On Alabama’s defense:
"Their size up front definitely helps them. Their knowledge of knowing exactly where to be at the right time helps them. They’re a very well-coached team on both sides of the ball. Their level of intensity on every single play is tremendous. They get 11 guys to the ball on every play. That's not something you see every week when you watch film."
On the atmosphere for the game:
"I'm pretty sure it's going to be unlike anything I've seen before in my four years here. I know the 12th Man will be rocking."
On the improvements of Johnny Manziel:
"His knowledge of the game and this offense has been his biggest improvement. He knows where to go with the football. He's trying to get six points on every single drive.”
On the improvements the team has made:
"I think we're doing a very good job of taking strides to get to Atlanta. We corrected some mistakes we made from week one to week two but we're going to need to correct some more stuff, especially going into this game because Alabama can take advantage of a single mistake.”
On the team’s preparation mindset:
"When it comes to a preparation level, we have to prepare like it's just any other week. If you prepare for one team in particular, another team can catch you off guard. We’re preparing like it’s our week three game, which it is. Championship level teams prepare the same for every single opponent.”
JUNIOR WIDE RECEIVER MALCOME KENNEDY
On following up Ryan Swope’s performance from last year against Alabama:
"I have to be fearless out there. Last year in this game, (Ryan) Swope was a warrior out there going across the middle. He caught passes that he shouldn’t have caught. I'm just trying to do the same thing for this team in this game.”
On the improvements of Johnny Manziel:
"He's come a long way. Obviously, he's a unique quarterback. What he does makes him who he is. He’s really been focusing on proving to everyone that he can be a great quarterback and make all the throws. We all know he can be a great quarterback but he being mobile is what makes him a unique threat. He has come a long way.”
On the team’s preparation mindset:
"We prepare for games the same each week. We want to be 1-0 each week. People didn’t expect us to beat them last year and people probably don’t expect it this year. We just go week-to-week on a weekly basis. That's how we approach this game.”
On Coach Sumlin’s demeanor compared to other weeks:
"He's exactly the same. He has a strong sense of urgency each week. He just wants us to remain calm and play it like it's just a normal game. That’s what we’re going to do.”
SENIOR DEFENSIVE BACK TONEY HURD, JR.
On Alabama’s special teams:
"Alabama has a great special teams unit. They have good return men just like everyone else in the SEC. It's just another week for us. We have to cover properly and we’ll be fine.”
On the team’s preparation mindset:
"Coach Sumlin hasn't said 'it's just another week,’ but as a player, you don’t want to blow it out of proportion. It’s just another game for us where we start SEC play.”
On Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron:
"A.J. McCarron is a great quarterback. Each and every week he comes out and puts his best foot forward. He does a great job of running that offense. I know they’ll be prepared. With everybody we have coming back, I know we’ll be prepared as well.”
On Coach Sumlin’s message to the team:
"Coach Sumlin's message to us has been 'Win Today.' He wants us to go out and put our best foot forward in practice each and every day. We feel like if we improve every day in practice, we’ll be in a good position to win the game.”