The newly legitimized Good Bull Hunting press corps crashed the Chick-fil-A Bowl party yesterday, arriving shortly after lunch in time to catch the Aggies' practice at Georgia Tech indoor facility (which is quite shiny and nice, kudos to the BEES). The second half of practice was closed to the media, so genuine insights as to the A&M gameplan were difficult to discern. Nevertheless, I left practice with three distinct observations. First, newly crowned playcaller Jake Spavital is definitely running the show on offense now. Very hands on, whether in the position groups or when running skeleton drills, his authority was readily apparent. Second, Kenny Hill is my favorite for the quarterback job next season, regardless of whether Matt Joeckel stays. Third, Cam Clear is an NFL-talented manchild and made several awesome plays. I hope to see him to play a larger role in the offense Tuesday night.
Today's press conference featured Coaches Spav and Snyder, along with Johnny Manziel and Deshazor Everett. Things started off loose, with Deshazor teasing Johnny about his missed layup last night in the basketball competition, before noting how exciting it was that he was finally able to get Chick-fil-A on a Sunday. There must be some side deal for the teams, because the press table was catered BBQ, which while delicious, is not the same as those delicious chicken minis.
Links to Press Conference videos and transcripts
Saturday: Texas A&M (Sumlin, Malena, Hurd Jr.) | Duke (Cutcliffe, Boone, Cockrell)
Sunday: Texas A&M (Spavital, Manziel, Snyder, Everett) | Duke (Roper, Knowles, Harding, Anunike)
Highlights from the Sunday Aggie press conference
Coach Spav was asked what differences we might see on offense now that he is the sole play caller.
"There's not going to be much difference out there. I believe that we might play at a faster pace just due to communication of cutting out the middleman, going from the press box to me to Johnny, which is now just a direct communication from me to Johnny."
Johnny was also asked about the change.
"Just like he said, I think think they will just come in quicker, hopefully get in more of a rhythm. And that's what we have to do if we want to win this game; complete some passes early and get things rolling and get our tempo where we want to. So I think coming in directly from the sideline will speed that up a little bit."
Coach Snyder was asked about the impact of Duke losing their leading rusher for the bowl game.
"Well, its more about their offensive line. They lost an offensive lineman as well, in the Florida State game. To me they have two, now three really good running backs, but its the offensive line that makes that thing go."
When asked about Johnny's leadership and presence, Deshazor offered up the following praise:
"He won't quit and he'll go at you." He's not afraid to go up against anybody. And regardless of how many plays the defense made that day, if he feels like he can make a play against you, he's going to make that play happen. He's going to give it his best. He's going to give it his all and he won't back down from anybody."
Asked about his injuries, Johnny stated that he was on the mend.
"I was a little banged up. The thumb is feeling extremely well, as well as really everything else, so I feel like I'm healthy and ready to play in the bowl game."
Here was my offering to the press conference. If brevity is the soul of wit, Coach Snyder is Mark Twain.
"Coach Snyder, during the Missouri game we saw a lot of progress on defense. We noticed a lot of younger defensive linemen, like Jay Arnold, in the game; can we expect more of that in this game?"
"Yes. Yes, you will. Yes."
Thanks, Coach. Swing and a miss!
The most significant thing I took away from the press conference was that the Auburn loss was a killer. When asked what might have affected A&M's offensive performance against LSU and Mizzou, Johnny alluded to a general lack of confidence on offense following the Auburn game.
"If I could pinpoint one thing, I would say just that would probably be the main thing (confidence), we were not playing with the swagger, or with the juice and energy that we needed to be."
"Just going from that game and kind of transitioning to some other ones and some non-conference games thrown in there, we just kind of lost our confidence after that (the Auburn loss) and never really could get it back."
That's about the size of it. One can't help but wonder where A&M would be this bowl season if the Ags could have pulled out the win against Auburn. *cough* HORSE COLLAR *cough* *cough* Moreover, where would Auburn be?
Stay tuned for more details on today's practice and other events as the Ags continue their stay in Atlanta.