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Texas A&M Football Weekly Press Conference

November 20, 2012
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION - Coach Sumlin and members of the Texas A&M football team & staff met with the media today in the Bright Complex to talk about this week's season finale against Missouri at Kyle Field.

Video links are available to the right. Audio in mp3 format is available below and quotes will be available soon.

Download audio of today's press conference here:

 

HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
On Michael Richardson
“He was at the team meeting yesterday. He was trying to get out of the hospital on Sunday night. It was really a shock because he played the whole second half. We tried to figure out when it happened; we think it was early in the third quarter. Looking at the x-ray, it’s a miracle. It could’ve been a catastrophic situation. He had the surgery and it was successful. He’s in great spirits. It could’ve been a lot worse. The medical staff did a great job. We’re going to have to tell him to slow down.”

On Missouri
“We’re playing a team that no one on this football team has ever beaten. It’s senior day. That’ll be enough to get our attention right there… They’re a team that’s been hurt by James Franklin being in and out of the lineup. That’s hurt them a little bit from a continuity standpoint. They’ve got big guys on the outside. They’re always talented at receiver. They lead the league in kickoff return and punt return. They have an excellent return game and have an excellent defense. They’re playing to be bowl eligible. Both sides have a lot to play for. Last time I checked, they haven’t lost here in a while. I don’t think they’ll be lacking any confidence at all walking into this place.”

On the seniors
“It will probably be a pretty emotional situation to start the game. Not just for the players, but for me too. If you look at what happened throughout the season for them: new coaches; new quarterback; new schemes; having the first game canceled by a hurricane; playing 11 straight games, that takes leadership to handle all that. It’s nothing short of amazing. Effort’s never been an issue, and I don’t expect it to change this week. They’ve been critical to our success…Those guys have the hardest time because they didn’t sign up for you. They don’t know you. Everybody else has a year or two to get adjusted. These guys have eight months. Most of them won’t play football again. I’m very sensitive to that. Their experience their senior year is what they’re going to remember the most. It’s critical that, win or lose, they have a positive experience.”

On Patrick Lewis
“Patrick does everything up front. He makes calls. He sets up the ground game.  He sets up the protection in the passing game. He was tired of me yelling at him in the fall camp, but we can’t do anything without him getting to the ball. He’s another guy that we couldn’t do anything without him. It starts with him every time. From a tempo standpoint, if he’s slow to the ball, our tempo is slow. He’s done a great job. He’s had some hellacious matchups in there all season. He’s the only senior for us on the line. He’s been a leader all season. He’s got to be the guy moving. I’d say he’s in pretty good shape for being 300 pounds.”

On the season
“As a coach, you really don’t have a chance to enjoy a lot of things until it’s over with. You’re always going on to the next game. After the season, we’ll do a lot of reflection. It’s been fun. That’s the biggest deal to me is how this team has come together and accepted this coaching staff from the beginning where there was a lot of tension to now where everything happens with ease. That’s what makes coaching a lot of fun. It’s amazing how fast the season has gone by. These seniors, it’s their last time to run out on Kyle Field. It’ll be an emotional game.”

On Luke Joeckel and Jake Mathews
They’re big, athletic, tough, and smart. That’s a great combination. They’ve played a lot of football. They’ve been playing since they got here. They’ve got the tools. They’re confident now. They’ve played against everybody. They’re juniors, but they’ve got as much experience as anybody in the country. As the team gets better, everybody gets better. As the talent level rises, then guys get better across the board by practicing against better players. That causes your confidence level to go up when it comes to game time. Those two definitely understand the game and know what’s going on. They’re both very talented and tough guys. The whole offensive line has done a great job this year.”

On the senior linebackers
“They’ve done a great job. Jonathan and Sean have played a lot. Steven Jenkins has made some big plays for us. We ask them to do a lot because we’ve had some situations where our secondary has been thin. What that group has done this year has been phenomenal.”

On having lost to Missouri the last three years
“They know what’s going on. There have been a lot of things happen this year that are first. First in the SEC. It’s the first year playing different teams. This game is similar to the Arkansas situation.”

On the first year in the SEC
“This league is what everybody says it is. It’s a line-of-scrimmage league. There are a lot of talented guys in the front. A lot of the elite teams have great speed and depth. It’s the emotional and physical grind. You watch different teams go through it throughout the year. They’re playing great and then have to go back-to-back-to-back. It’s not a one game here and one game there. At this age, to handle some of those road stretches against quality opponents is very difficult. You have to have depth in this league to sustain success. You have to recruit to that. We’ve been very fortunate this year from an injury standpoint. I think how we manage guys during the week has helped us. You’re going to hit a stretch in this league where you have to play very physical ballgames every week in some very hostile environments. Fans are very passionate.”

On the Heisman
“It’s the biggest honor there is in college football. It’s a big deal. You can tell that because many schools don’t have one. We have one. That tells you prestigious it is and how hard it is to be in the running. If you look at his numbers and what he’s done compared to everyone else, they speak for themselves. I’ll take it a step further, if you look at his numbers compared to anyone else who has ever played the game, they speak for themselves.”

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MARK SNYDER
On what to watch for with Missouri
Just the way they spread the ball out. They make you defend the entire field both vertically and horizontally. They have a really good wide receiver, a really good runningback and a very good quarterback. They are going to make us defend the whole field both ways and definitely provide a challenge for us.

On season performance by defense
“I am very, very proud. There are so many words and emotions that come to mind because we’ve had to piece the defense together. Sean Porter played a different position. Jonathan Stewart, Deshazor Everett, Spencer Nealy, they are all great. We’ve had to mix and match each week. The guys have done an outstanding job and they did it again Saturday.  At the end of play, it was impressive. I am very, very proud, impressed, happy, all of those words.”

On Damontre’ Moore’s lack of nominations
“I think he is deserving of the national awards. A lot of it is preseason stuff and I understand that. If you look at the big picture of it, though, he moved from one position to another position and he excelled at that position. I think that’s what those awards are for. I’m not taking anything away from the guys that are nominated for those awards. I just think that Damontre’ is of that mix.”

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR KLIFF KINGSBURY
On Jonny Manziel
“[He’s had a] fantastic [season]. To be a freshman and do what he’s done in that conference is hard to believe unless you’re a part of it and have watched it every day and how much he’s improved from day one until now. It’s really been fun to watch.”

On Patrick Lewis
“He’s probably the most underrated player on our entire team, just by the fact that we put so much on him from a protection standpoint of the target in a run game – to take that off of a young quarterback. He’s really embraced that. He’s handled in-game adjustments as well as anybody I’ve ever been around. I can’t say enough good things about Pat. He’s really led this offense.”

On the A&M offense helping in Manziel’s success
“It’s a pretty good supporting cast all the way around, as evidenced by being No. 7 I think last year on offense. It’s been a good offense and like I said, playing at his level has raised it even higher I think.”

On the Missouri defense
“They have a good defense. They’re very diverse schematically. They give you a bunch of different looks so they’ll be a serious challenge for us.”

SENIOR DEFENSIVE BACK STEVEN TERRELL
On Missouri
“We looked back at some of the things they had success with last year. They’ve had some success here at this stadium so we have got to get prepared to play and ready to win. The biggest thing that we looked at from last year is that we didn’t tackle well last year against Missouri so that’s going to be a big focus. We’ve just got to make sure we make those plays and we didn’t make those last year.”

On the Mizzou receivers
“That’s a great group of receivers. They’re a lot taller than most receivers we’ve been facing – they’re all 6’3, 6’4, they even have a 6’6 receiver. They throw the ball around a lot. They have a good quarterback, a good running game. He doesn’t do a lot of quick passes. They’ll try to spread us out a lot. It’s kind of similar to our offense, so we’ve had a lot of experience with offenses like this through the spring. We’ve just got to watch a lot of film this week and be prepared for them.”

On his senior season
“Our plan was to win every game and then that didn’t happen, but this is the best season I’ve been a part of. For the coaches to come in and put in a new system and things like that, we just wanted to win, all of the seniors. It wasn’t too hard for us to buy in to their system since they’ve had success everywhere they’ve been. It really does feel good to play for something really meaningful this week. We’re just happy to be a part of it. It’s been crazy. I was talking to [Jonathan Stewart] - we’ve been through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. We’ve been through it all I feel like. It is a completely different aspect going into the last game this season as compared to last year. We’re just fortunate to be in this situation and we want to make the most of it.”

SENIOR LINEBACKER JONATHAN STEWART
On getting ten wins
“It would mean a lot. We just want to get a win. We’re not necessarily focusing on getting ten wins, we just want to get this one win. A&M hasn’t won ten games in a season since 1998. It would mean a lot to this program.”

On Coach Sumlin
“Coach Sumlin is really cool. He’s laid back most of the time. You can hang around him and have a good time with him. The reason we’re having so much success is the players on the team. Guys are making plays when they have the opportunity. Last year, we had a lot of opportunities but we didn’t make plays. That’s why we’re winning games.”

On the success this season
“It’s been great. We love it, but we always want to improve. We always want to play better. This week we’re hoping to play better than we have the last few weeks.”

On beating Missouri this weekend
“We haven’t really talked about it but I’m sure it’s in guys minds. Two years in a row they’ve come in to Kyle Field and beaten us. We want to go out and play our brand of football and get the win.”

On not playing on Thanksgiving
“We’re still playing on national television on Saturday. I don’t really know what we’re missing out on. We’ll be fine.”

SENIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMAN PATRICK LEWIS
On preseason expectations for where team is now
“I would have thought it was very doable. I knew the type of team we had in August. We worked hard and competed really big against each other in August. We are like brothers in the locker room. We play for each other and we play hard for each other. That’s a big part of our success so far this season. We are just one big brotherhood and we love each other like brothers.”

On Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews
“Luke’s nomination is well deserved. He has worked really hard and he’s been that way since he got on campus. He’s been a very good football player since he’s been here and this nomination is well deserved. Jake and Luke do a phenomenal job of just being themselves and never giving up. They work really hard. They are the guys that are supposed to put on the pressure when it comes to offensive attacks and they are pretty consistent in what they do. In practice, they go hard. They do a good job competing against each other and making each other better. They talk a lot of football and they watch film together. They do the little things that make great offensive linemen. One day, they will be really good offensive linemen in the NFL.”

On being center for Jerrod Johnson, Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel
I never really thought about it but I guess I could have taken a little credit for it. They were three amazing quarterbacks. I may have played a small part in protecting them. I guess it is something I could take pride in that I blocked for three of the best quarterbacks in A&M history.”

SENIOR WIDE RECEIVER UZOMA NWACHUKWU
On how far the offense has come
“I think we’ve come a long way. If you look at that first game, we definitely didn’t know how the offense was going to run. We didn’t really know how Johnny likes to play. It was an adjustment. We’ve definitely jelled and gotten a whole lot better.”

On Johnny Manziel
“It’s kind of surprising because the types of throws that he makes are amazing. I don’t know how he can throw across the field on one foot the way he does. We definitely work on scramble drills a lot. Understanding where he wants to go with the ball in certain situations definitely helps a lot. After the first couple of games, we learned that he’s not scared to make some plays. He thinks anybody on the field is open. “

On the speed of Johnny Manziel
“When he’s running, he doesn’t really look like he’s running fast, but he’s gaining a whole lot of ground. I think they don’t take the right angle for the type of speed that he has. He’s exceptionally fast. Usually you don’t have speed like that at the quarterback. It definitely adds a different dimension to the game.”

On the transition into this season
“I was a little bit nervous, but I think everybody was. Coach Sumlin did a great job of giving us a smooth transition and getting everybody comfortable.”

On how far they’ve come since last season
“We’re on a whole different side of the boat. It’s bittersweet because we’re getting so much better but we don’t want to see it end. It’s great to see the strides that we’ve made.”

On playing with awards finalist
“We always have pressure, no matter whom or where we’re playing. We expect the best out of all of us. We hold ourselves to that high of a standard. If he’s up for that award, hopefully we’ll be on those highlights. It makes us want to play better.”

On previous quarterbacks
“I’ve been blessed with some great quarterbacks, to play with guys like Jerrod, Tannehill, and Johnny. I’m thankful to be at a school that we can recruit quarterbacks like that”

On Ryan Swope
“Swope and I have been through whole lot. He came in as a running back. We had to teach hinm how to run routes. Now, he’s teaching everybody else how to run routes. I’m so proud of him for everything he’s accomplished. He’s come a long way.

On beating Missouri
“There’s an added motivation to beat Missouri. As a senior group, we want to go out the right way and beat Missouri. We can’t go out the right way if we don’t beat Missouri.”

SENIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMAN SPENCER NEALY
On what he likes best about Coach Sumlin
“I don’t want to sing the same tune but he is going to tell you how it is. I don’t like people that beat around the bush. Coach Sumlin since day one, he didn’t really know us that well, but he told us ‘If you’re playing bad, I’m going to tell you you’re playing pretty bad.’ That’s what I really like about him.”

On what senior has excelled the most in four years
“I knew [Ryan] Swope was going to be a superstar, hands-down when I saw him with his flat-billed Yankees hat. I knew he was going to be phenomenal. I remember I was super intimidated by all of these guys – Patrick Lewis, Jonathan Stewart, Sean [Porter] EZ [Uzoma Nwachukwu] – I remember they came in and they looked all rocked and stuff. Senior year, I still don’t look rocked but freshman year I definitely didn’t. It was kind of scary because I was like ‘Should I be physically more prepared than I am?’ just looking at those guys. I absolutely have no surprises at all. Our class was a pretty special class and I knew that we were going to be special throughout the whole four years.”

On the last game at Kyle Field
“With this week being a lot of lasts, I’ve definitely thought about it. It’s kind of heartbreaking. It sucks because last game I was listening to my iPod before the game and I was like, ‘I don’t really have that many left here.’ You don’t think about it when you have more than one week left in practice. Now I’m starting to think, ‘You don’t have another week after that to enjoy Tuesday Media Day, Tuesday practices, Wednesday practices. The juicy stuff that you love.’ It kind of sucks but four years are good, so I can’t complain.”

SENIOR WIDE RECEIVER RYAN SWOPE
On Missouri game Saturday
“It’s just another game. It’s not an odd game at all. We treat it like any other game. We are excited that we get to play Missouri and we are excited that we get to play on national television. We can’t wait for Saturday.”

On potentially leaving for NFL after junior year
“I was contemplating it. It was one of those things where I would wake up one day and tell myself that I was going to leave. The next day, I would tell myself that I couldn’t leave this place. When it came down to it, I just had to follow my heart and pray about it. Luckily, I wanted to follow my heart and I got to come back and experience the SEC. I got to experience all of these great games and obviously the fans. I didn’t want to leave Texas A&M. It’s been an amazing journey with the fans, Kyle Field and how loud it is. It was one thing I couldn’t leave behind and I had to experience it another year.”

On potential for playing Texas postseason
“I think it would be a very interesting game. There’s no better way to go out than to play Texas. We have so many great traditions and so many intangibles in that game. It’s such a great game for the fans and the university because we have been playing them for so long. It would be great to finish out playing Texas.”

 

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