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Texas A&M Football Week 11 Press Conference Recap

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A recap of the press conferences held by Texas A&M coaches and players as they come off a loss against Mississippi State

Major Notes:

  • Trevor Knight is done for the season due to shoulder injury, at best he’ll be back for the bowl game. He’s receiving treatment, not surgery at this time.
  • Noel Ellis is done for the season due to a torn upper-leg muscle
  • Connor Lanfear is done for the season with torn knee ligaments

Head Coach Kevin Sumlin

  • Quarterback situation moving forward:

“Jake came into the game and played pretty well. He gave us an opportunity in light of how we played, and gave us a chance to win the game. Moving forward, he’s our guy. We had a conversation with Nick Starkel and his family, and he is on board with whatever we want to do. He wants to play. So we have enough guys on the roster who are talented enough. “

  • Rest of the lineup:

“We've got to assess where we are along the offensive line. We've moved some guys around, fortunately. Can’t tell you right now what the lineup is going to look like for Saturday. “

  • What were the issues against Mississippi State

“Saturday, for whatever reason - it was a combination of things. I’m not talking about defense specifically. We didn’t coach very well, we didn’t play very well, and that’s on me. Whatever the approach that I took last week, which was consist with the approach we’ve been taking this year... maybe the situation of what happened Tuesday (playoff rankings) was bigger than what we thought. Whatever I did to approach that game... obviously this is a results oriented business, and the result was indicative of how we’ve played all year. I’d be more concerned if we’d looked like that all year. .... The effort on the video is really, really good. From an effort standpoint, it wasn’t lacking. Doing your job, doing what you’re supposed to do, executing... that was an issue. We’ve talked about it internally and addressed it with staff and with players, and now we have to move on. We can’t change what happened, but we can change what happens from here on out.”

  • Status of wide receivers:

“Ricky [Seals-Jones] hasn’t been back completely. He’s been off and on, but I think he’s finally feeling better. Speedy has been injured, he took a shot at Alabama that a lot of guys would have trouble getting up from. Saturday, he made some crucial plays. He kept us alive on a few drives, made some smart plays. But we missed some throws in that game. First throw of the game was a touchdown. Josh Reynolds and Christian Kirk are playing at a high level. I think Speedy is creating a lot of space out there, so from that standpoint he’s been doing a great job - playing without the ball. He’s become a real team guy, and has played extremely hard. “

  • How does the run game change with Hubenak:

“[Jake] has run before, and he’s run pretty well. But there’s not 10 guys in the country who run as well as Trevor does. Jake isn’t a 4.5 guy, so is that going to change the way we run a little bit? Sure, but keep in mind that a lot of runs for Trevor weren’t designed runs. He just pulled the ball down and went for it. The quarterback read game is not the same for everybody - let’s put it that way. Some quarterbacks are going to pull it and others aren’t, and we’re going to continue playing to our players’ skillsets.”

  • Why do you believe this team will respond this week?

“Because of how they played all year. Because of the preparation and how we’ve approached things each week. Based on my conversations with our staff, with our team... I’m going to trust the process we’ve used based on the other 8 weeks instead of this 1. “

Defensive Coordinator John Chavis

  • Opening statement:

“Not a lot I want to talk about, but I’ll certainly answer your questions. I will say, this is very disappointing. That’s the only way I can describe it. You ask me how we get this fixed - we’ve already started. It’s about working, it’s about grinding, it’s about seeing potential problems and being able to deal with them.

The fact that I know that our kids were disappointed and that we’re disappointed, we just got to get rid of that. You’ve got to be able success and then you’ve got to be able to handle situations when they don’t turn out the way you think they should.

We’re going to continue to work to be better.”

  • Issues with stopping the run:

“We felt like we had a good scheme. A situation we felt like we could handle - but we didn’t. After the first play, we changed the way we were playing it. When you take things from one spot and move them to another, you create new problems. We thought we could handle it, and obviously that wasn't the right decision.”

  • How big of an issue is tackling:

“Ya know, I hear a lot about it. I went back even a second time and watched the film. We had some missed tackles, and you’re going to have some trying to tackle great athletes in open space. I mean sure, we want to tackle better. We work on it. We work on proper technique, we teach it. Done it the same way for many years. I do think missed tackles are an issue, but I don’t think they are the issue.”

  • Is Myles Garrett’s absence causing a lot of the issues?

“Sure, you could say that, but If I said that I’d be making an excuse. I’m not going to make excuses. We didn’t play as well as we should have played and we didn’t coach them to play as well as we should have played. That’s the bottom line. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m not going to run away from responsibility, that’s my responsibility. I don’t feel very good about it but I’m not going to let it linger on. We’re going to get back to work and get the guys who are going to play, ready to play. “

  • On Ole Miss’ backup quarterback:

“You’ve got to treat him like a tailback, because really, that’s what he is. But at the same time, he can throw the football. He’ll force us to stretch ourselves a little bit. There's a reason everyone in the country is running this offense.”

  • On injuries:

“We don't talk about injuries. I'm not a doctor. I just know who's available and who isn't.”

  • On game-planning concerns:

“There’s always concerns when you make a game plan. But we’re going to continue being aggressive in our approach. We’re going to try to create as much concern for them as they do for us. It always depends on talent and depends on matchups. But let me say this, our front is playing much better than they did last year. You talk about injuries, but we’re not going to use that as an excuse. It’s next man up. We’ve got to set the tempo. Mississippi State set the tempo from the first play, and I allowed that to happen, and that responsibility falls on me. We’ve got to coach, and we’re going to try and fix those concerns.”

Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone

  • Biggest challenge adjusting schematically to Jake’s skillset:

“Getting over Saturday is the biggest challenge right now.... Obviously you lose the running with Trevor, so we’re going to adjust that a little bit more. Hopefully hand it to our backs a little bit more.”

  • On fixing offensive issues

“We just got to do a better job. We’ve didn’t play very well or coach very well, our execution isn’t what it’s been all season. But you just roll up your sleeves and get back to work.”

  • On playing underclassmen on the interior of the line:

“Obviously those kids are a lot better when they’re 22 instead of 18. They’re very talented guys, but you can see them wearing down a bit physically late into the season because they haven’t spent 5 years in a weight room... All those guys are excited to play, and they’ve been a good offensive line, but now it’s a matter of us tightening up our execution.”

  • On running quarterbacks taking more injuries:

“I’ve had guys get hurt from standing in the pocket. It’s just part of the game. Those things happen. Funny thing was that it happened while diving into the end zone, it wasn’t from taking a big hit.”

  • The challenge of getting the running backs going without Trevor:

“I’m excited about the chance to get our wide receivers more involved in the running game now. I’ve been around this offense for a long time, going from a Brock Osweiler to a Brett Hundley... you just make some adjustments, whether it’s zone read or pull and run stuff, or pull and throw stuff for these quarterbacks.”

  • How many times have you lost your starting QB with 3-5 games to go?

“Never. But two decades though... I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night. Let me think on that for a second..... Wait, yes, I remember, Minnesota, 1993 - a quarterback named Tim Shade. We lost him and Scott Eckers came in just like this towards the end. What’s tough isn’t the loss of talent, it’s the 8-10 weeks of reps. In our system the second team QB doesn’t get a lot of reps in practice. There’s only so many reps in a day, so the tough thing is getting him enough reps this week.

(How did it go with the Minnesota guy?) It actually turned out pretty good.”

  • On Wide Receivers:

“It may not look it in the film, but watching the film, our whole receiving group had one of their best games of the year on Saturday. Speedy Noil and Ricky-Seals Jones are talented guys, and I’m looking forward to them getting healthy and complimenting Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds.”

  • On Nick Starkel:

“He’s up to 207. It’s hard to tell where he is. We were really excited about him in camp. Once you hit the season, your focus goes to the starter. He’s not getting to play a whole lot as of yet. From what we’ve seen in the past, he’s a smart guy with a skillset we really like - I’m excited to see how he attacks this situation.”

  • What has Trevor Knight meant to this team?

“[Knocks on table] Hopefully he hasn’t played his last down. I don’t think we could have had a better guy come in to this situation and do what he’s done for this program. Not only what he’s done on the field, but....... I feel like I’m giving a eulogy, but I’m not. He’s still the same guy today that he was Saturday. Still the leader of our football team and our offense. Now he’s just going to be Coach Knight for a few days, and he’ll help Jake and help Nick and Conner and those guys. But he’s been an awesome, awesome... you guys know him. He’s just got a great personality. You lose what he brings to you as an athlete, but we want to keep him involved so we don’t lose some of the other things he brings to our football team.”

WR Christian Kirk