The coaches and players returned to College Station to meet with members of the media after an invigorating 45-24 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks in Dallas. With clear signs that the wrecking crew has finally returned, and with a run game that A&M has been sorely lacking in recent years, the Aggies look like a complete team ready to face-off against a 2-2 South Carolina Gamecocks squad coming off a loss to Kentucky.
With nothing to be bashful about this week, here’s what the coaches and players had to say about the previous and upcoming games:
Head Coach Kevin Sumlin
- No comments on injuries to Ricky Seals-Jones, Myles Garrett or Justin Evans; a response that is “no different than usual”
- Sumlin believes this team is stronger than last year’s team; a result of maturity and “dramatic changes to the player development plan.”
— “We needed to change our body types to look like the rest of the teams in our league. We spent a lot of time on nutrition and with our sports science people. We've done a lot regarding player development. “
- Trayveon Williams and Colton Prater noted for “their work ethic off the field,” studying, working out - doing all of the right things outside of practice.
- Regarding the feeling of this team compared to previous years:
— “The first four games are probably a little bit different [than previous years]; playing UCLA, at Auburn, and Arkansas. We have a better feel for where we are as a team than we did 4-games ago, 1-year ago, or 2-years ago... as I said, ‘Does that guarantee a change?,’ it doesn’t. But, I think what you can do is evaluate better where you are as a team than you could two years ago.”
- Regarding whether or not Josh Reynolds likes being under the radar:
— “I don’t know if Josh likes being underrated, I just know that I like that he’s on our team. You know, he’s not real talkative, not a real flashy guy... I’ve had pro-scouts ask me ‘how fast is he?’, I don’t know, he’s fast enough... I haven’t seen him get caught many times.... He wants to be an elite player. It was evident after the bowl game when he came in and knocked on the door, and things were the way they were, for him to come tell me ‘Coach, I’m not happy how I finished and I’m going to come back next year and work harder and be the best I can be,’ that was great news for our team, it was great news for him, great news for everybody. I think he’s going to try and make the most out of this senior year.”
- Believes the success of the D-line can be primarily attributed to the depth and rotation this year
- On South Carolina:
— “Will is a guy that has a lot of experience in this league. They’re entering a new system. I think they’ve been pretty good defensively... I think they’re what.. 2nd in scoring defense I think?... Defensively they’re always going to be good. They’re still trying to get an identity offensively. But defensively, there’s never been a Will Muschamp team that hasn’t been salty.”
- A few guys on the team have never been on a plane before Auburn, and they had the hell scared out of them when the plane bumped on the runway in College Station and had to circle around again.
- “He claims he was part of it,” referring jokingly to Larry Jackson claiming to be on the Wrecking Crew.
- On this defense being compared to the Wrecking Crew of the ‘90s:
— “[The "Wrecking Crew" label] is something you earn. That's not really up to me. For years, I wasn't here. I was a player in the 80s. Then I was a young coach. A&M played good defense. From the outside looking in, that's what you saw. That was an identity. Because it was at such a high level, it's not something we're pushing, but if people start to identify us as a defense, you can't take it as anything but a compliment.”
Defensive Coordinator John Chavis
- Opening statement:
— “Really excited about how our players performed in terms effort. In my opinion it was incredible. I’ve never seen a group play any harder. They did some tremendous things. Played well enough to win. The three takeaways were BIG.
Obviously there’s some negatives that I gotta do better as a coach, and that’s getting off the field on third down - and that’s obvious. And I know you probably got questions, and I’ll answer them for you.
It started really bad in the 3rd quarter. We take the ball down on offense and turn it over down on the 5-yard line, and we got ‘em pinned right where we need them. They can’t run it, gained 0 on first down, threw and incompletion, and then on 3rd down they complete it. As a defense - you can’t let that happen. You have to maintain field position. We go into the next series, they try to run it on first down - they can’t run it; they try to run it on second down - they can’t run it; and then we let them again convert.
Now you gotta give Arkansas some credit - they get good players, they coach too. But again, you gotta keep the ball pinned down. It’s a field position game.
So we go into the third series of the drive. They try to run it, they can’t run it.. they throw an incompletion, it’s third and long again, and we get an interference call. That’s 9 plays we already played when we should have been off the field. They get a little momentum, we misfed(sic) a run, they moved the ball down the field, they get it down to the 2 yard live. We played 16th... 17th... 18th... and the 19th play of the drive. And that was what was incredible - the way those kids played those 4 downs. I mean it was big in the ball game. It was as big as it gets. They denied them the end zone, and I’m as proud of that as I can be.
We gotta get some things better on 3rd down, that’s obvious, and that’s on me... that’s on me. If you wan’t to know, we had a good mix. We’re a pressure team, we’re not going to back away on that, we’re going to be that, we’ve got to be able to cover 1-on-1, we gotta be able to do those things. But the pressure has to get home. And certainly you have to give Arkansas some credit, they did a great job protecting the quarterback, but we kept coming and as we kept coming, it was a big factor in the game - obviously with the sack Dae Dae got later on in the game.
But, I will assure you that we will be bett... we’ve been great on 3rd down up until this game, we will be better on 3rd down this week. There’s no question about that.”
- On the secondary:
— “It's tough for the corners to play on an island. I think the secondary played well. We need the pressure we're bringing to get home. We played some zone. We mixed it up. We can't have linebackers biting on bait. That's coaching. That's on me. I don't have problems with the secondary. We need the pressure to get to the quarterback.”
- On Les Miles:
— “ I haven't talked to Les Miles yet. I hope to soon. I think that could have been done different, but that's not my call. He did a lot for that school, and he's a great man. It wasn't difficult to see it was coming.”
Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone
- On Trayveon Williams:
— “Trayveon Williams is a good fit for what we do offensively. He's got great vision and is explosive. He's not the biggest kid, but he's tough. His skillset as a runner is obvious. The things he's done without the football are what I've been impressed with. He's not a liability there.”
- On injuries:
— “Ricky Seals-Jones got hurt, and I didn't even notice that Frank Iheanacho was in the game for the rest of the game. That means he's doing his job. He's progressed as a player. We didn't skip a beat, and I didn't adjust the way I called the game. That's vitally important. That depth is good. He did a nice job.”
- On Erik McCoy’s snap issues:
— “We're working on snaps every day. That's Erik McCoy's third game. He's at the hardest position. He's making all the calls along the line. You have a guy behind you screaming at you to give you the football. He's got a lot of things going on. Every once in a while, you'll have problems like that. We're working on it every week.”