Texas A&M’s nail-biting OT upset over the UCLA Bruins showed that this year’s squad has a lot of the tools necessary for a successful season, yet a lot of issues to address to actually make it happen.
The Aggie offense was able to get a 15 point lead late into the 3rd quarter, but defensive breakdowns and some questionable clock management decisions on late game 3-and-out offensive drives let the Bruins back in, tying it up before the Aggies would seal the deal in overtime. A&M’s overtime decision to go for it on fourth and short, betting on the defense to stop UCLA one more time, showed how confident Head Coach Kevin Sumlin is in a defensive squad whose players rated amongst the top in the nation over the weekend.
Coaches and players met with media members to discuss the win and the upcoming game (but not band battle) against Prairie View A&M.
Press Conference notes and quotes:
Head Coach Kevin Sumlin
- Erik McCoy (who was named SEC lineman of the week as a freshman) was playing after the loss of his grandfather earlier in the week.
- Avery Gennesy will be available this week. (Originally out with cramps, Koda Martin replaced him in the depth chart last week)
- "We took some chances early in the fourth quarter and didn't run the clock as well as we could have. That's on us."
- About what the coaching staff learned from this game:
— “We got up 24-9 and everyone relaxed. Quality football teams will make you pay for that. The guys showed real courage to regroup and finish that game. There were lots of examples on both sides of that coin this weekend. ... We have to be able to close out games.”
— “We learned a lot more about Trevor Knight, and he learned about himself. The RPO concepts were things we executed well in the third quarter. When you're ahead, the clock becomes as important as yardage, and it's not as much of an RPO as usual. ... We took some chances early in the fourth quarter and didn't run the clock as well as we could have. That's on us.”
— “We're trying to adjust to our personnel, and we're still learning. This is a team game. When you’re in these situations, you should be able to close out. That was probably the biggest teaching point from Saturday.”
- Keith Ford is healthy, ready to go for week 2.
- Staff feels comfortable with running back depth, and we didn’t see much of James White since Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford were playing well.
- On the linebackers:
— “Shaan Washington and Otaro Alaka played as advertised at linebacker. Claude George had a foolish penalty, and we got him out of there. That was a crucial penalty. We gave them an extra drive after we had them on third down. Tyrel Dodson did some good things. ... I thought the linebackers were steady.”
Defensive Coordinator John Chavis
- Opening statement: “I'm excited about the win. We never take that for granted. We played well on defense for three quarters, that's obvious. We didn't play the way we needed to in the fourth and we're going to try to get that fixed. ... The positive is that we responded well in a stressful situation. ... I was really proud of the effort. We need to play a little smarter. Nothing happened that we can't fix. We didn't get beat in terms of athleticism or physicality. We have to take things one step at a time. Teams that improve the most as the season goes along are the ones that will be there in the end.”
- On the pressure the D was able to get on Josh Rosen: “We take a lot of pride in being a pressure defense. Our scheme is built around pressure. We played a great quarterback. That kid is as good as anybody I've been on the field with. He could have made us miserable if we hadn't gotten pressure. He should be in the NFL next year, but they won't let him. He's a very talented guy.”
- On what could have gone better: “We had some communication problems from the sidelines to the field that we’ll fix. Mentally, we're playing really well. Now we have to understand that we have to go finish. If you have someone down, don't let them up. Especially a team like UCLA that can throw a good punch back. That's about maturity. We will continue to develop that. “
- On what got the D up for overtime: “I think a big part of the defensive resurgence was Coach Sumlin getting the team together before overtime. They responded to what he put in front of them and did a tremendous job on both sides of the ball in overtime.”
- On the biggest plays of the game: “There are a lot of big plays in the game, but Evans' second interception was a big one. I'm not going to think about what would have happened if he didn't make that play. I'm just going to think about how high he jumped.”
Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone
- Editorial Note: Mazzone is extremely personable at the podium, and it’s worth checking out the video if you’ve never seen him speak yet.
- On Trevor Knight: “I think Trevor Knight was good. I don't think he's satisfied. We're a work in progress. That was the first time we got to learn how each other worked. It was like a first date. We're just trying to figure each other out so we can play to our strengths. He brings other things to the table than what he does on the field. The most important thing he can do is win, and he made the plays that let us do that.”
- On TE Tanner Schorp: “Tanner Schorp is progressing every week. His position is weird for us. We ask him to do a lot of different things. He's getting better.”
- On things that can be improved: “I’ll tell you, on Sunday morning, I call the best game ever.... We’ve got to do a better job and keep Chief and his guys off the field”
- On the fourth down call:
— “ [Jokingly] I had turned my headset off, I wasn’t watching, and I didn’t want anything to do with it. .... I thought it was 3rd down at that point. I would have been more nervous if I knew it was 4th”
— “JT, Jim [Turner] - it’s a play we’ve been running a lot and we actually ran it on a 3rd and 1 that we didn’t make, and it came off in pretty much the same scenario where Trevor has the ability to decide to hand it to Keith or keep it. Jim wanted to come back to it, so we came back to it, and Trevor did a good job with it.”
- On whether or not he treats Prairie View A&M differently from other teams: “I don’t know... It’s just the next game.”