The Texas A&M football team, but particularly the offense, looked abysmal in their 35-20 loss against Ole Miss at home over the weekend. It's been a process of coming down to earth over the last few weeks, as folks are starting to realize what this team is actually capable of after having their expectations set unreasonably high after the South Carolina game. Coach Sumlin was asked about the team's current confidence level, and what their expectations are for the rest of the season:
Nobody said this was going to be easy. It's a difficult league and there's no doubt, based on the last couple weeks against these type of opponents, we've got to coach better and we've got to play better. That's the expectation within this building, to win games. Confidence is something you don't gain overnight and you don't lose overnight. It's something you build. - Kevin Sumlin
Kenny Hill's confidence has been in question as he threw two picks against the Ole Miss D, one of which was returned for a touchdown. People have questioned his relaxed demeanor as of late, which Coach Sumlin says is "viewed one way" when the team wins and "viewed another way" when they lose, but has remained consistent regardless of outcome.
Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital says he "never thought about putting Kyle [Allen] in the game" when things looked out of reach. Obviously the turnovers were an issue, but the coaching staff "thought he was operating it efficiently and completing passes," and opted to leave him in, defending the decision statistically since Kenny had "almost 200 yards in the fourth quarter alone," making it the second week that the QB piled up extra stats in garbage time.
Spavital believes that Kenny is "playing decent right now," and growth will be a factor of his ability to "keep learning from those experiences." A move towards Kyle Allen is clearly not being considered at this point, as Kenny keeps learning to work with his young and talented wide receiver corps throughout the season.
The offense has looked stale since Malcome Kennedy was injured against Arkansas, but the senior is likely to return to action in Tuscaloosa. Texas A&M had trouble opening up the passing game through the running game on Saturday, which Kevin Sumlin partially attributed to offensive line troubles:
Up front, for what we tried to do, Ole Miss did a better job against our offensive line. We got whipped up front; that usually does not happen. We challenged them and it did not work out. - Kevin Sumlin
Coach Spavital took that discussion further when he talked about how OL Coach BJ Anderson would be giving different members of the team additional reps this week, ensuring that coaches will "put our best five out there," against the Alabama Crimson tide this Saturday.
Defensively, the team had a better game on paper than they've had in a few weeks, allowing only 21 points to Ole Miss offensively. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder attributes this to missed tackles and missed assignments being down from the prior week, and feels the team "settled down" once they "got [the Ole Miss offensive attack] under control."
Mark Snyder says the plan against Ole Miss was to "force them to run the ball into the strength of our defense, which is our defensive line," an area that Arkansas had success with last week as they held the Tide to 66 yards rushing on 32 attempts.
Not many participants of this young team played in the 2012 game vs. Alabama in Bryant-Denny, and the coaches and staff all talked about the importance of the few that have to be leaders on the field this week, with Coach Snyder saying guys like Deshazor Everett and Howard Matthews "need to step up and lead the way again this year." Coach Sumlin knows that "everyone's going to have to play well for us to be successful," against this year, and his goal this week is to recreate one of the only memories he had from that game: "being able to leave there with a smile on my face."
Check out the press conference videos for more discussion about last week's Ole Miss game and the upcoming Alabama game:
Football Weekly Press Conference | Kevin Sumlin 10.14
Football Weekly Press Conference | Mark Snyder 10.14
Football Weekly Press Conference | Jake Spavital 10.14
Football Weekly Press Conference | Garrett Gramling
Football Weekly Press Conference | Malcome Kennedy 10.14