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 Sam Houston State.
Video links are available to the right. Audio in mp3 format and quotes are available below.
Download audio of today's press conference here:
- Kevin Sumlin (mp3)
- Mark Snyder (mp3)
- Kliff Kingsbury (mp3)
- Jonathan Stewart (mp3)
- Spencer Nealy (mp3)
- Malcome Kennedy (mp3)
- Ryan Swope (mp3)
- Damontre Moore (mp3)
- Dustin Harris (mp3)
TEXAS A&M FOOTBALL WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 - College Station, Texas
HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
On coming back to a big crowd
"That was really neat. As Coach Beaty would say where he comes from that's what they call a 'neat deal.' We got wind of it all of a sudden when we were on the plane and we were landing, somebody took their iPad and showed it to me and I said 'Where is that?' They said 'That's right outside of your office.' I said,'Wow.' That's what we were talking about. One of the reasons I was excited to come back here - Texas A&M is such a unique and special place. The current students - it's the only place in the country where 30 thousand stand the entire game. Getting back here, I don't know how many people were there. It wasn't early. It was 10 or 11 at night and they hung around, and our players appreciate that. As happy as we were in Tuscaloosa, as our players were, you could just see people here when we got back were just as happy and that's great feeling."
On the simplicity of the offense
"The simpleness of what you're trying to do is all by design, built up from certain principles. I think the complexness comes in its execution. We're better off having 11 guys knowing what to do and the guys that we're playing against knowing what we're going to do than to have only two or three guys exactly what to do and it being real fancy and complicated. College football is unique in the fact that you have 20 hours and you can't have more than four hours with players a day. And that is with lifting, meetings and practice. You can quickly see how since you can't have more than four hours with them a day, and you have to give them a day off, six times four is 24, so you can't have them four hours a day every day, as opposed to the NFL where it's unlimited. You have to be able to utilize your time wisely, you have to be able to have a plan that can be executed and a plan that guys understand each other. It's not just one player that has to understand his position. The better your team is, the more that that player understands everybody's position on the field. It's hard to do that with a real thick playbook. I would say that it's pretty easy to grasp and that's a good thing."
On Kliff Kingsbury's growth as a coach
"He's continued to grow. I've said it a lot. He's a really dedicated, hardworking guy. He's one of the first guys - probably the first guy - in the office here every day. He's always looking for new stuff, new wrinkles. He does a great job with the growth of all of the quarterbacks. There's a lot that goes into the organization of the staff and there are different ways of doing things. I think he does a great job of utilizing our staff. We've got some guys in that room who have done some things at all levels. I have a tremendous amount of respect that they work together. But ultimately, you've got one guy that's got to make some tough decisions. He's grown through that. You can't have a bigger stage than what we were on Saturday, or a bigger platform than what we've been on this year. He's continued to grow. He's handled it well. The quarterback, like I said, when you win gets all the credit and when you lose gets all of the blame and it's part of the job. I think the kids understand him. He makes it fun. He's very, very critical of guys but I think they understand that he knows what it takes to win games. That's what leadership is all about. He's got all of the tangibles and the it-factor. He's going to be a great head coach one day."
On whether he's surprised by Johnny Manziel
"We get to see him in practice. It's kind of like your question about Kliff. There are a lot of plays we see in practice that you guys never see. If you think some of those we ran Saturday we kind of screwed up, you should see some out there about five o'clock tonight that never make it to the field. You get to see Johnny do some things. I think where he's grown, as I said, was in the spring he was extremely careless with the football. He'd make a great play and then give it to the defense. He's done a lot better job of handling the football and taking care of it, and still creating offense. He has continued to develop mechanically and that's hard to do during the season. The greatest jumps in that position are between seasons. It's hard as a young guy to get dramatically better week-to-week because of game plan, because of knowledge, because of all of those things and because of mechanics. In the offseason, that's where mechanics, where real film study, where all of those kinds of things get better. He has gotten better at throwing. I said going into the game last week that we're a different team than we were in week one. That's him, that's a lot of people. That's coaches too. You have to have a feel for what your players can do and what they can't do. It's hard to do that as a new staff and in two-a-day practice. You don't really know what anybody is going to do until the real bullets start flying, when the pressure hits. Certain people will run from it, certain people will handle it. We've got a better feel for what guys can do and what they can't do over the course of the season. It's a coach's job, in my opinion, to put players in a position where they can be successful without asking them to do it. I think our staff has done a really, really good job of that, offensively and defensively."
On Sam Houston State
"I've got a lot of respect for Willie Fritz and what he's accomplished. Them going to the Championship game last season was a heck of a run. All you've got to do is look at the video where they're ahead of Baylor at Baylor at halftime, they've just got to come back to beat them. They're not going to be awestruck or anything when they come in here. Offensively they've been able to do just about what they want to people. Their attack is a little bit different than what we've seen. It's a little bit closer to a combination of Mississippi State and Ole Miss with the option to have some shotgun runs, some wildcat, option principles, things like that. It will be certainly different than what we saw last week. That's where I think our coaches have done a good job, particularly defensively, of having to adjust week-to-week to different styles of attack. We've got a lot to play for right now. I met with the seniors yesterday and really had a great conversation with them. We've been through a stretch and they've got two more games in their career at Kyle Field. No one will care as much about these last two games than you guys because for many of you, it will be your last two times to play football, and for all of you this will be the last two times to play at Kyle Field. It was a good meeting. We need their leadership right now, this week, because we're still on the hunt for a lot of different things right now and to get back home and play, I think our guys will be excited for Saturday."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MARK SNYDER
On the secondary
"I thought our secondary played their best game of the year. We had three explosions of 150 yards. If you take those three plays out, then we had a pretty good night. I thought they tackled a lot better. The thing I am most proud of is the last play of the game. Since Louisiana Tech, before they cancelled that game, at the end of every Thursday practice we have a two-point play. We run three to the flat and pick, pick. At Mississippi State they put the ball on the hash and we called our two-point defense to stop the two-point play. It was not in a two-point mode Saturday night. The ball was in the middle of the field. We had motion across the field and our DBs went into mode. It was three to flat and our guy jumped in front of the pass. I'm just very, very proud of them for the carryover. I was not in two-point mode but the DBs were and that's a credit to Coach Yates and the DBs. It was a huge, huge play for us."
On Howard Matthews
"Howard played really well. He's trying to do what we are asking him to do. Can he get better? Yes but he played a heck of a football game for us. He's proven to me that he can be a good football player when he wants to be. I think that the buy-in factor is there. He's practicing hard and practice. He's working on the things he's not very good at and he's become a good football player because of it."
On team's improvement
"We have gotten better each and every week and our confidence level has gotten better and better each week. I am really proud of the kids to piece the puzzle together each and every week. It's maturity. During the TV timeouts, I did not see guys with looks on their faces that said, "Please don't come my way." I saw more of, "Come my way so I can make the play." That's the maturation that I think is happening on this defense. You've got to credit the older guys. They are starting to come on and lead a little bit. I can see that confidence."
On Sam Houston
"They limit you because they are playing option football. As a defense, you can't be as aggressive as you'd like to be because they are running a lot of option football. They are running the ball for almost 300 yards a game. They are a very, very good 1AA team. This team is good. They are not going to come in here in awe. They are going to try to come in here and beat us and we're going to have to play."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR KLIFF KINGSBURY
On Ryan Swope's big plays
That was huge. It was a game changer. Also that he gets down close on that last touchdown was big. Just the spirit in which he plays motivates the entire team. When he gets hit, he doesn't lay down. He just hops back up and that is huge for the offense to see. It will really motivate us for the rest of the game. That's how he's played since he's been here. I was an admirer of him before I got here and I am an even bigger fan now that I am here. He is a tremendous football player and we're really lucky to have him here.
On Johnny Manziel
The thing that impresses me most about Johnny is his competitiveness. He's his own worst critic. If he's not perfect in every throw, he wants it to be. That's not something you can coach into a kid. He either has it or he doesn't. He wants to be the best. I hope he continues to get better. That's up to him how good he wants to be. He definitely has the skill set and potential to get better and better.
That's one thing that I give a lot of credit to Coach Sumlin for. He promoted me from a quality control to an offensive coordinator and never once questioned my calls or sat in my meetings. He had total faith in me from day one and I can't thank him enough for that. I definitely wouldn't be here if it weren't for him. I got into this by default and I am very fortunate to work with some amazing players and amazing staff. I am very fortunate to be at Texas A&M. I am just excited to be here right now. With the effort that these kids show, it's been awesome. I think the big deal with this team is watching them start to believe in themselves. To watch the team come and have success in this league and play with a chip on their shoulder, it's just been a fantastic experience.
On Sam Houston
I expect really aggressive defense. They are probably the most aggressive we've seen. They walk down into your face. They are in the top five in every category in their division. They are very well coached. The coaches have done a great job motivating. They played for the national title last year and they will probably play for it again this year. We have to show up and play well. It will be a challenge.
JUNIOR DEFENSIVE END DAMONTRE MOORE
On the aftermath from the win over Alabama
"There has been a buzz around campus since we've been back. Overall, the experience was breathtaking. It doesn't happen that often and I think it did a lot of good for this program and this community. Overall we were excited and we're still in awe about it - the experience for the fans and the atmosphere around here. When we got back there were hundreds of people waiting on us in line and they had a walkway set up. It was like one of the biggest Spirit Walks we've ever had overall, just to see that late at night and to see everybody driving in from out of town. I heard people were driving from Austin, Houston and some other cities just to meet us and congratulate us. It was an overwhelming people. Today, just walking around campus you still have people acknowledging you and speaking to you. To see people acknowledge us like that was pretty exciting."
On making a statement in the SEC
"We feel like we haven't made a statement yet. It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish. We're not looking at, 'OK we beat Alabama.' We're looking at how we can finish off the season. Let's finish strong. Don't get complacent. Don't look at anybody as a lesser opponent. Just keep doing what we're doing. It's not about the other team, it's about us."
On the A&M staff taking the team to new heights
"They told us that they could. They told us to just believe them and do what they say, and things will take care of themselves. That's what we did and we're reaping some of those benefits. But like I said, it's not where you start, it's where you finish. We still have a lot of football left to play. If we keep doing what we're doing, it could be a good experience. Everything can come true like they predicted."
WIDE RECEIVER MALCOME KENNEDY
On his game-winning catch against Alabama
"It was exciting for me because I get in every once-in-a-while. To make a play like that, any one of our receivers could have made it, but for me to be in there at the time was exciting."
On the atmosphere around campus after the win
"It's crazy. This is A&M. The student spirit is always hot, regardless of whether we win or lose. But it's crazy the looks we've been getting. People are excited. It's good to see students happy about something like this. School spirit is always hot but these past few days have been unreal."
On how SEC defenses have reacted to the Aggies' quick
"It's fun to talk about because the coaches came in with a plan and they told us how it would work, and it's fun because it worked out exactly how they said it would. We knew the defense would be tired against us and it would be hard for them to make sound play calls, with the tempo that we use. Not only do we execute well but we have a quarterback who can run, so you've got to watch him. We have two great backs and all of our receivers from number one on the roster all the way down to third string - everybody is good. It's crazy to see how they said it would work and it's working exactly how they said it would."
SENIOR LINEBACKER JONATHAN STEWART
On encouraging his team to focus on Sam Houston State
"As a senior it's going to be very important because we're hearing from so many outside sources - from fans, from media, everybody - they're all saying that last week was such a great win that this week when you play Sam Houston State y'all should just go out there and beat them. But they're a very good team. We have to prepare just like we're getting ready to face Alabama and we have to go out and play as hard as we did against Alabama and play our version of A&M football. We can't worry about last week. Last week is over with and we have to worry about this week and prepare so we can have one more win as seniors because we only have two games left on Kyle Field. We can't look at it as just another game. We only have limited opportunities left. We're going to truly cherish every moment we have left on Kyle Field."
On how much the defense has progressed
"We have grown a lot, just because in the spring we never knew how fast our offense could go. The first couple of days of spring practice were kind of tough. But Coach Jackson got us into great shape in the spring and in the offseason and during two-a-days. When we're on the sideline now, we're looking at the other defense, we're seeing guys out there dying. It's kind of funny. Just like 'Look how tired they are.' They're struggling and having a tough time keeping up with the offensive tempo."
On creating three turnovers at Alabama
"Turnovers were huge. We didn't turn the ball over at all on the offense, and we caused three on defense, so we were plus-three on the turnover margin. That's basically what sealed the game for us. TJ Yeldon and his fumble was huge. We were up by six and they were driving, so that was a very big turnover. Sean's interception early in the game so that we could go down and score again and get Alabama back on their heels again, Deshazor Everett had the most important turnover of the game. So the turnovers were very crucial. If their defense would have caused three and we would have caused zero, we wouldn't be as excited as we were after the game. Fortunately, we were able to make plays when we had to."
SENIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMAN SPENCER NEALY
"They made a huge difference, especially the way Alabama had been playing throughout the year. I don't think A.J. McCarron had one interception and broke a record. Unfortunately we didn't play them before that so we could stop him from doing that, but turnovers played a huge role in this game. We hadn't really been that great on turnovers this year. Getting three against Alabama came at a really good time."
On personal performance through the year
"To this day, I say that playing Louisiana Tech later in the year was a blessing for me, especially, because I didn't know how I was going to fare playing against Florida. I was very self-conscious. Playing Florida gave me confidence. LSU set me back because those guys are massive. They ran a block that I absolutely hate, so that game rocked my confidence a bit. I got in a funk and then the Mississippi State game came and I got my swagger back. It just kept building up and building up and I was absolutely ready roll. They could triple-team me and I would try to stay in there all I could. This is a physical league and practice makes perfect. I really appreciate playing Florida and LSU."
On team attitude
"This win is very satisfying. We've gone through a lot of adversity and a lot of tough games, especially last year. We lost basically every close game we played. It was just one of those instances where you just wanted to pull one out at the end of the year. Playing Alabama, after playing Florida and LSU so close, we knew we could not let this one get away from us. We could not let this one go. I'm still smiling. I can't believe it. I'm still waiting to wake up from a dream. This win is awesome. It is extremely satisfying."
SENIOR WIDE RECEIVER RYAN SWOPE
On double hit after a long catch
"I wasn't nervous at all. It was just one of those things that I think my adrenaline was going so much. I just braced the hit. I knew I was going to get hit. I knew I had to step up and make the play for the team. Yes, I got hit pretty hard. For a second there, I didn't think I was going to get up but I just thought to myself, "I've got to get up and send a message to Alabama." I think it helped our team going forward. The guys knew that we just had to step up and make plays."
On wheel route
"It was first down and we came into a huddle. Coach Kingsbury called it. I'm so glad that he did because it was something that we had been working on all week in practice and I had been waiting for him to call it. I knew I had to step up and make the play. Johnny was thinking the exact same thing I was. He put it right on the spot and hit me in full stride. When the ball was in the air, I was telling myself that I'm not letting anyone else catch this football except for me. It was pretty cool coming down with it. It gave the football team a whole lot of energy."
On future of Texas A&M football program
"I think it's going to be special. They have a great group of coaches coaching them. They are going to be very knowledgeable. It's only the first year for a lot of the players. That said, they are going to lose some key players, but you have Johnny and some key talented offensive players as well as great defensive players. I see a lot of good things happening at Texas A&M in the next five to ten years. We got off to a great start this year and I believe it is just going to get better from here on out."
SENIOR DEFENSIVE BACK DUSTIN HARRIS
On whether the Alabama win was the best game of his career
"By far, by far. After the game I went and hugged all of the seniors and congratulated them on a good win, a win that we had to earn. It wasn't given to us. A win that we had been working on all week, not only as a senior group but also as a team. We knew what we had to come in and do in practice and throughout that whole week. We prepared that whole week and when it came to game time, it's just about having fun. After the game we had even more fun. It was probably the best game of my life and I'm pretty sure the best game of the guys who are going to be here for another four years."
On meeting with Coach Sumlin as seniors
"We don't always meet. Normally it's just the council that meets - it's certain guys from each group. Yesterday the seniors met and we talked about how big the game was last Saturday and how exciting it was, but also how unfortunate it would be to lose focus and not be able to play our game and come out and not play to our full potential against Sam Houston State. He wanted to make sure that our heads were focused. We care more about this game, being seniors. I'm not saying that our team doesn't care but this is our last two games at home, which I'm thankful for - two games at home is perfect for me. He just wanted to make sure that we were focused on the task at hand. He knew he wouldn't have to worry about Missouri but he had to worry about Sam Houston, not getting too high on Cloud Nine but to just come back down to ground level and practice like we need to and focus like we need to."
On this defense compared to past years
"With this team, I think we've let things go a lot easier than we did in the past. In the past when big plays happened, we would dwell on it and we would hang our heads. It would get to us and then even bigger plays would be happening. This year, I feel like our defense as a group is growing. When somebody gets down, there's always someone there to pick us up. 'Just go to the next play. That play happened. Just make sure it doesn't happen again'. We went into that game knowing that they were going to make big plays. They were No. 1 in the nation. They were there for a reason. We knew that big plays were going to happen. They were going to catch a few balls and have a few big runs but we just knew that we needed to go in and try to contain their ability to make big plays, and just hold them and let our offense do what they do best."