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Texas A&M Football Week 5 Press Conference Recap

A recap of the press conferences held by Texas A&M coaches and players as they come off a win against South Carolina

Mazzone compartmentalizing
Texas A&M Athletics

Coaches and players joined members of the media today to discuss their 24-13 win over the South Carolina gamecocks. The Texas A&M offense looked flat against the Gamecocks, which was likely in part to missing three key offensive starters in Ricky Seals-Jones, Speedy Noil, Jermaine Eluemunor. With Myles Garrett out, the defense leaned on senior DE Daeshon Hall who responded with an SEC defensive lineman of the week performance to keep the defense rolling at the same pace it has kept all year.

Here’s what the coaches and players had to say about the good and bad about their performance against the Gamecocks and what they’re doing to prepare for a Top 10 showdown vs. #9 Tennessee:

Head Coach Kevin Sumlin

  • Injury Updates: None.

—— Injury Updates we wish we had: Myles Garrett, Ricky Seals-Jones, Speedy Noil, Jermaine Eluemunor, Keith Ford)

  • Sumlin on Derek Barnett: “He’s productive.... Athletically he’s one of the tops in the country, but from a production standpoint, his numbers with sacks are comparable... that’s why he’s #2 in the country.... Productivity is a big deal to me.”
  • Sumlin on what’s changed in Daeshon Hall since his recruitment: “About 60 pounds... He was a basketball player primarily when he moved, and I think he was 208 when we recruited him. Because of where we were in this program... we had to play. Since Freshman year he’s had some injury problems, but up until last year, he couldn’t spend a whole year in a weight room..... The last year and half, two years, he’s had an opportunity S&C and nutrition wise to get his body right.”
  • Sumlin on being 5-0: “5-0 is something people keep harping on. If we win Saturday, it'll be brought up next week. If we lose this week, it’s not indicative of anything; our season isn't over. We’re still playing great football. This team has done a great job of focusing on the little things every day. We have great leadership from the staff and the players..... We’ve got a really good nucleus of guys playing football here.”
  • Sumlin on Tennessee: “[Tennessee] hasn’t gotten lucky [in their last 2 games]. They’ve got a veteran QB that is #1 in this league in ‘points responsible for’, so let’s just start there.... That gives you a chance to win those games. He’s been in it before, in different stadiums, on the road. He’s going to come in here, and he’s seen all this, and that’s going to create a lot of confidence.... Tennessee, a team with a really good defense, with high level athletes, with a lot of speed... when you have a team like that, you’re explosive. Combine that with an experienced QB, and you’ve got a confident football team. They’re going to be a real challenge.”
  • Sumlin on Trevor Knight: “Statistically, Trevor Knight is mediocre, passing percentage-wise.... His best statistic is winning.”
  • Sumlin on if playing Tennessee has any different emotions for Chavis: “You'll have to ask John Chavis how he feels about playing Tennessee. I'm not going to speak for him..... Purdue isn't on the schedule, so I don't know how he feels.”
  • Sumlin on College GameDay: “It’s a big deal. They don’t go to really bad games. They go to atmospheres that are important, atmospheres that are meaningful. I think what it validates is that your program is relevant. I can remember... probably shouldn’t... when GameDay came to the University of Houston for the first time in my last year there, and it was really a validation about where we were headed as a program. And then being here from where we were to the midpoint of the season... it puts in perspective the relevancy of this game, and really the relevancy of the program. Does that mean that’s all there is? No. You work hard to be in these games and you work hard to win them, that’s the ultimate goal.... Our fans have been great, and I’m sure this Saturday will be exactly the kind of atmosphere that our administrators envisioned... I think that’s what people were looking for 5-6 years ago.... And it doesn’t hurt recruiting either.”
  • Sumlin on making great 2nd Half Adjustments: “Thanks for the compliment! Don’t get many of those in here.”
  • Sumlin on the significance of being a black head coach at a flagship institution in Texas: “It is [a big deal to me to be a black coach in the SEC]. The big deal is, going forward, what we’re trying to do is get to a point where it isn’t that big of a deal. Where it isn’t a huge deal that there is a black coach at a major institution. The only way you can do that is to continue to win, and create an opportunity for someone else that looks like me so that one day this isn’t a conversation. So that you’re not a black head coach, you’re a coach.... Ultimately the best thing I can do is to do a really good job at the job I have and try to create an opportunity for someone else, to take a chance on them.... I’ve got enough on my plate to do here in the SEC West, one of the toughest conferences in the country. Winning a championship is our goal.”

Defensive Coordinator John Chavis

  • Opening statement: “It was not the way we intended to start that game. It’s one of those plays you want to stay away from. It’s one of those plays that shouldn’t have happened to be quite honest with you, but it did. The good thing is our kids stayed together, no one pointed any fingers, and we played some good football after that.”
  • Chavis on challenges with facing Josh Dobbs: “Used to be you could play football and you didn’t have to worry about the quarterback playing the football. It's always difficult facing a versatile quarterback, but when we saw football heading in this direction with dual-threat quarterbacks, we saw more big plays on offense. Now it’s something you see every week, Out of 12 games, we'll play 7 or 8 quarterbacks that play that style. It’s become more of the norm.”
  • Chavis on tackles for loss: “A little has to do with scheme, a lot has to do with players. We take pride in being a pressure defense. We don’t just pressure the pass, we pressure the run game too... Our LBs are playing better, when you start getting safeties involved in the backfield - that is a great player making a great play.”
  • Chavis on playing Tennessee: “It’s not anything I think about. It’s been a long time since I was there. I enjoyed my time there, I got an opportunity to raise a family there, to go to school there, but it’s business. It’s business. It’s the next game on our scheduled. We have to go prepare for an outstanding football team with athletes all over the field. From a defensive standpoint, probably the most athletic team we’ve seen so far.”
  • Chavis on Tennessee feeling like they’re always in the game: “Well, hey. The Aggies are, too. No doubt.”
  • Chavis on talking to stadium staffer: “He said I had the credentials... and he was the boss. [laughter] I thought about going on and doing my job, but I went ahead and got my credentials. Second thought is always the best one.”
  • Chavis on the 2005 Cotton Bowl vs. Texas A&M: “There was a lot in the media in 2005 about Texas A&M only having four turnovers. We had a great group of kids in Tennessee at that time, and we decided to double that for them. Our kids fed off that and they went into the game and got it done. Sometimes what the media puts out there helps your team out.... Our kids played well, and I'm glad we won that game. But I am glad I’m at Texas A&M now.”
  • Chavis on offenses taking the crowd out of games: “The way offensive schemes have changed, they’re scoring so much and so fast that I think fans get tired of cheering. No.... you have to play well for home field and have to keep the crowd in it to be an advantage. I've been in many stadiums throughout the country... Hell, I’ve never been to a stadium that can come alive like this one at Texas A&M... It’s our jobs as players and coaches to give our fans something to cheer about, and if we can do that, these fans do it as good or better than most.”
  • Chavis on being good in the second half: “This is just a theory, not a fact. You work against the scout team and it’s a different pace... As the game goes on you see things, things start to slow down for players... and if you don’t have it by the 3Q, you won’t have. I think that's a big part of it. You can't just go against your starting offensive unit all the time. We do it, but I think that adjustment to game speed makes us better as the game wears on.”

Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone

  • Mazzone on Knight keeping turnovers down: “I don’t know... did he have turnovers at Oklahoma?... We tell everyone to protect the ball on this team. It's a fine line for a quarterback. You want him to be a gunslinger, but not a gunslinger that gets shot. You want him to make good decisions with the ball, but you also want him to protect himself. He's done a good job of throwing it away.”
  • Mazzone on running game: “You want to be able to run clock with your running game. We need to do a better job of that offensively. We’ve had a couple games where a good drive at the end, we don’t have to put Chief and his guys back on the field, and we need to get better at that. In this offense, half of the runs we call have a pass attached to it. That’s kind of the good news / bad news thing if you’re trying to run the clock. I think we, and Trevor, need to do a better job of understanding when to hang on to the ball and keep that clock running.”
  • Mazzone on running the option: “It's always been an option offense. It's triple-option football without being in the wishbone. Trevor has three options on every play based on what the defense does to him. It's not anything that hasn't been done before. You're just trying to give different looks to the defense. If you're doing that, you risk not being able to run the clock. We need to do better in that area.”
  • Mazzone on the OL practicing against Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall: “It’s like me and you going against Michael Jordan 1 on 1. Hopefully my skill set would improve, because for me to have any success I have to improve. I do think it’s an advantage for our offensive lineman.”
  • Mazzone on Tennessee’s defense: “I think they’re very good. Their front 7 is very good. They’re an upper-tier SEC defensive front. Their defensive front is very big, though, explosive guys... Their linebackers are a little nicked up, like everybody is this time of the season, but they haven't lost a game yet and the defense is playing good... It’s a big challenge for us.”

QB Trevor Knight

DB Justin Evans, Kingsley Keke, Daeshon Hall

WR Christian Kirk, OL Connor Lanfear and WR Jeremy Tabuyo