A year ago, the Texas A&M Aggies were believed to be cellar dwellers in their first year in the SEC. Why? Many believed the Aggies were not prepared for the physical play the conference demands and would need a transition year or two.
However, that has not been the case.
The Aggies are currently 7-2 on the season and 4-2 in the SEC. They are currently ranked fifteenth in the BCS Standings as one of the better team’s in the SEC. Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel has been arguably the most electric player in the conference, garnering Heisman Trophy consideration for his performances. Junior defensive lineman Damontre Moore has been the cause of nightmares for opposing quarterbacks. In short, Texas A&M has opened the eyes of many this season.
This week the Aggies will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where they face their biggest challenge of the season in the Alabama Crimson Tide. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin met with the media on Tuesday to discuss his team’s preparation for the Crimson Tide along with other key topics.
On the progression of the offense
“We are certainly a different team than we were week one. Ten weeks later we better be, especially with a young quarterback. We certainly have more offense at our disposal now than we had against Florida. It’s just growth, number one. Number two, it is the comfort level and Johnny being able to handle it. Just because you put up a play, you better have some answers for it. Defenses in this league are pretty complex. It’s not necessarily what you think you can handle as a coach but what your players can handle. In year one, ten weeks in, I think we’ve progressed pretty well. I think Kliff has done an excellent job of getting a feel for what Johnny can handle comfortably and has been conservative with that early in the year. The growth of the amount of offense has been good, I think, and Johnny now has a better understanding what we do. I think everybody has grown a little bit.”
On team’s consistency
“I think it’s important the way that we have progressed and the way we have won and had the opportunity to win has been consistency. One of the things you learn early as a coach is that you want to avoid the rollercoaster, the up and down. You try to develop a team that is consistent in effort and consistent in their quality of play. As a coaching staff, that comes from you and what to expect from coaches day-to-day. You get into a routine this time of year. Fortunately, that has been the case. That might be the only plus of not having a bye week. You play the game Saturday, rest Sunday and then Monday, Tuesday and so on you are back to practice. It has been consistent.”
On how Alabama compares to previous opponents
“Philosophically, everybody is a bit different. I think if there’s anything out of it that we’ve gotten as a team, even though we were disappointed to lose those games, there was a little bit of confidence out of our football team of being able to handle the physical nature of this league.”
On Manziel playing in a big game
“We’ve had some pretty big games already. If anything, the atmosphere going on the road will be different. These guys have put us in a position, by their play, to make these games meaningful. It’s not a one-game season. It never has been and it never will be.”
Chris Lionetti covers the SEC for Rant Sports
Follow him on Twitter at: @ChrisLionetti