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 game against Mississippi State.
Video from today's press conference will be available later in the day. Audio in mp3 format and selected quotes are available below.
Download audio of today's press conference here:
- Kevin Sumlin (mp3)
- Mark Snyder (mp3)
- Kliff Kingsbury (mp3)
- Jonathan Stewart (mp3)
- Uzoma Nwachukwu (mp3)
- Ryan Swope (mp3)
- Damontre Moore (mp3)
TEXAS A&M FOOTBALL WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 - College Station, Texas
HEAD COACH KEVIN
On the offense
"We're not at peak efficiency. We always have room for improvement. We've got a lot of young guys out there. There are some things that we can do better. I think part of this time of year is trying to constantly improve. Our guys understand that there are some things we can do better. We're still working on technique. We've got some young guys out there. It's a new offense. But we're making strides."
On how setting a point-total goal motivates the team
"The offensive staff has been together for a while. That's kind of how we've done things all the time. It's probably different than what these guys expected. You have an expectation level. The idea of offensive football is to score. You start with that premise and you want to try to score. Every playbook that I've seen does not have plays drawn that are designed to be unsuccessful. Every play is drawn up to be successful. What we try to do is talk to our guys about doing their job individually, and collectively we'll be successful."
On the A&M defensive staff
"I've said many times that they're doing a really, really good job of working with the pieces that we've got. Because of our lack of depth, they're doing a great job of being able to create some different problems for offenses, particularly with our front seven, and not panicking - being pretty salty with it. These guys have blended together. I think it was important to the hiring process that we didn't hire one of those coaches without Mark [Snyder] talking to them. There was nobody forced on him. There were guys that, obviously, I wanted him to talk to and I brought them in and talked to them on the phone. I think when you hire people that way, they understand their role coming into the process. There was never any situation where we just threw people together. Everybody understood their role coming in. I think that made it a little bit easier, a lot easier, to really blend together and get rolling."
On proving themselves offensively
"We're new guys. We're the new guys in the league. I don't see that as derogatory. You're always going to be skeptical about anything that's new or that you don't know about. I don't see it that way. I do see it as we do have something to prove. I've said that from the beginning. At SEC Media Day, we were in the best league in the country, playing football. As new guys to the league we do have something to prove. I think our guys understand that. As coaches, we understand that. I think right now our players understand it, too. I think that's why there's such an excitement level from our fans and there's also an excitement level from our players just because that's where we are. Every one of these games is new to these guys. I think last week was a prime example of being exited to play. The newness of this, in a way, has helped us because we're going to places that we've never been and our guys are excited to go there."
On being able to take a half off against Auburn
"I don't know. It's a reward. I think this time of year can be difficult. Nobody is healthy. Nobody is 100 percent healthy, particularly in this league. LSU was a really taxing game for us, physically and emotionally. We lost the game and there's a lot put into that. We had some guys last week who I wasn't sure were going to be able to play in the game, right up until Thursday or Friday, or even right before the game. They missed practice and I think it showed a little bit. We played one series in the third quarter with both starting units. The defense had a three-and-out and then we scored, and then we put the second-team offensive line in, the second-team defensive line in and the second-team secondary. We kind of mixed those guys in there. We'd put some more linebackers in there if we had them. From that standpoint, it was good to get those guys off the field, but it was also good to get the young guys in there and play a substantial amount of plays and to really play as many plays as the starters did in an SEC football game on the road. It stretched them out a little bit. There are a lot of plusses to a game like that in the middle of the season."
COORDINATOR MARK SNYDER
On playing backup players Saturday
"It's good to always get the second and third team in there. Those kids practice hard and want reps and it's not often in a league game that you get the chance to put in your backups, but it was good to get those guys in. It really makes for practice, too. When we get to practice, they've got a few game reps on TV and in a nice stadium. It will help this week. They have to go perform. On our side, I thought our two offenses did really well. I was little disappointed when our twos went in. I didn't think we matched the intensity. We did keep some of the linebackers in to get them lined up and to have a sense of calm. That's just who I am as a coach. It's competitive and you want the guys to do well. That was our message again yesterday: "When you take the field, you are representing us. You need to go perform if we are going to put you on the field."
On forcing three-and-outs
"I said earlier that I truly believe with all of my heart that tomorrow will be a third-down day for us. That is what we do. We put in a lot of time and effort on that. That is the "money down." That is the time to get off the field. These kids have been resilient and do what we ask them to do. We practice what we get and I'm very proud of them for that. We've got to continue that."
On rapport with the players
"We work so hard. We are all in this together and I think that it starts at the top with Kevin. He's a players' coach. The kids have to trust you nowadays. Times are different. They have to know that you care about them and you've got to have a little fun and you've got to keep it real with them. I think players respond to that. It gives me the opportunity when the time comes to put the foot down that they don't take it personally. We're grading the performance, not the person."
On Mississippi State's offense
"I think their quarterback playing really, really well. He's operating within their system. He's not turning the football over. He's got a tremendous arm. The most impressive thing about this guy is that he stands in the pocket and takes the shot. We are going to have to cover a second and a half longer than we have all year long. Watching the Alabama game, I think the same thing happened to their secondary. At times, we are able to rattle people and things start to move and the ball is out. This kid has tremendous poise in the pocket. He's been the difference in this whole deal. I think the running back is really good, too. He reminds me of an older Trey Williams. They have a big offensive line. They are gelling pretty well and there's a reason they've only lost one game. We've got a challenge ahead of us Saturday."
COORDINATOR KLIFF KINGSBURY
On playing at Mississippi State
"Every stadium in the SEC is a great atmosphere and I think the kids are going to be fired up with the fans ringing those cowbells. It should be rocking. It's a cool experience."
On whether the offense has reached its peak
"It's still week-to-week. The week before, we had four turnovers and lost and only scored 19 points. It's still week-to-week and it's a growing process. We haven't come close to what I think we can become with this group. It's still a bunch of young guys out there playing, so if we just keep getting better and protect the football. Things have to fall into place but consistency is key in this deal. We're still going to run a bunch of plays and do some positive things, but we've got to do them over and over. Not having penalties is a crucial thing."
On setting a scoring goal for the offense
"We want to score every time we get [the ball]. I think it's a big part of this offense, having belief in yourself and that you should, every time you have the football, be trying to score points. We're not trying to run the clock or have moral victories. We're trying to put the ball in the end zone. I think they've thought was crazy since day one. They were a little suspect. They're still trying to figure me out, I think."
On Johnny Manziel improving after the loss to LSU
"He doesn't let things like that bother him. He corrected the mistakes. He knew what he could have done better. He goes right back at it. I've said from day one that he's a fearless kid. Mistakes don't slow him down. He's going to go out there and play to win, and do everything that he can for his teammates to win the game."
SENIOR WIDE RECEIVER RYAN SWOPE
On the offense being on point against Auburn
"It comes from having a good week of preparation. Offensively, once we get off to a good start and really set the tempo of the game and really find that groove, it's a hard thing to stop. We go at such a fast pace and we start to wear down those defenses and move at a pace that we practice at. We did a good job all last week. We need to stack what we did last week. We want to prepare and have a good week in practice this week."
On playing in all new places his senior season
"It's been a great experience. We go to all of these places to play and we experience all the new things. It's been incredible. I've had a great experience, and obviously we have five more games left, including a bowl game. It's not over yet and, as Coach says, we've got to finish strong. I know we've got a lot of character on this football team and guys that are hungry to win, and seniors that want to go out the right way. We've got to really put our foot on the pedal these last five games and give it everything we've got. That Auburn game [was a great experience]. It's a pretty unique stadium and a pretty cool place to play. There are so many great places. Ole Miss was also a great experience. It's just a learning experience right now. It's pretty incredible what these SEC schools have to offer. It's an exciting process. It's really cool."
On the Mississippi State defense
"You know, it's an SEC defense. They've got a good team. They've got good coaches over there coaching them. I tilt my hat to these guys. They're going to be a good football team. They're 7-1 so their record speaks for itself. We've got to be prepared to knock them down and we have to go up there and be prepared to play a physical football game."
LINEMAN DAMONTRE MOORE
On the defense working in the SEC
"As a defense as a whole, we took it upon ourselves [to prove people wrong]. The coaches told us, 'We can coach but ultimately it's y'all who are going to play.' So, the defense came together and we all talked. We wanted to be one of the premier defenses of this league so we took it upon ourselves to work harder. We hold everybody accountable for their actions and their assignments. We just want to be the best that we can be. We had a big meeting as a whole and then as the defensive line, we talk about it every day. We're always critiquing each other because we want to be the best that we can be."
On the Mississippi State offense
"Once again, we're going up against a very talented offense. They only have one loss. They make very minimal mistakes. They have a very talented quarterback and a lot of threats to throw to. Once again, we're going up against another talented offense and we've just got to get in there, study, learn our scheme and focus on how we play. "
On not changing anything when playing on the road
"I think it's been a big success. Like I said, we don't look at it as going on the road. We see it as another game, another opportunity, another chance to win, and another chance to prove our point and make a statement. When you think of it in that aspect, we're just looking at the opponent and the task at hand - how well we studied our scheme - so we don't have too many distractions."
SENIOR LINEBACKER JONATHAN
On Coach Snyder
"He's cool. He always expects perfection. He's always upset. Regardless if we are up 63-14, he still wants his defense to run a certain way. Or if it's a 99 game and it comes down to the fourth quarter and the last drive, he still wants the defense to run the exact same way, regardless of the situation and regardless of the score. He expects perfection and when he doesn't get it, he's upset and that's what you need out of a coach. Coach is very demanding and you need a coach who holds you to a standard."
On attitude towards SEC
"We never looked at it as, 'We have to do this. We have to prove people wrong.' We just look at it as that we need to get the whole defense ready and go out there and play our game. Our guys at Texas A&M get recruited just the same as other guys. We can play with top-caliber teams and we can be a top-caliber team. We just have to do what we need to do. We can't worry about what external sources are saying. We just have to handle it all internally. If we prepare how we need to prepare and play how we need to play, then we can compete with anybody in the nation."
On approaching Mississippi State
"If you play hard and fast and everybody locks down on their keys, you can stop this offense. But if a couple of guys are not on the same page, then they can be a very explosive offense, as you can see with their record. They've only lost one game and it was to a very good Alabama team. We have to prepare just like Alabama did or else they will put up points against us. Our goal is to stop them just like Alabama did."
WIDE RECEIVER UZOMA NWACHUKWU
"I don't think we are at our peak and that just goes down to little mistakes and little things at which we can get better as an offense. If we do that, then we will be a tough offense to handle. It is just little adjustments we can make here and there."
On personal performance
"I think it's a process, but I feel like with each game you get that feeling like, 'Okay, I know what's going to happen. I know how things are going to gel, what the reads are and things like that.' As every game progresses and we go through a season, I will get more comfortable. You should never feel "comfortable" as a receiver. You always want to get better and perfect your game. You don't want to feel comfortable with this offense because that's when you get beat."
On Mississippi State
"It's pretty cool because you can relate to them. You know they are going to give you 100% just like you are. They are going to try to prove everybody wrong just like you are. This is a team that I would say is hungry. They are not going to wait on anybody and take a backseat to anyone. They have a pretty similar mindset. It's not like anything other than what we've had. Any team that we play, we've think that if we play our game and play as hard as we can play, it should show how good we are as an offense. It should show how hard we've worked. We never take the team as a measuring stick. We go on the field expecting to beat our expectations."