Texas A&M, running the offense with true-freshman QB Kyler Murray at the helm for the first week this season, pulled out a 35-28 against the South Carolina Gamecocks last Saturday. Questions regarding whether or not the coaches had any question about the starting quarterback situation against Auburn were surely answered, as Murray put up impressive numbers, going 20/28 for 223 yds and 1 TD passing, with 156 yds and 1 TD over 20 carries on the ground.
Although the Texas A&M defense gave up 445 offensive yards to the Gamecocks, the key turnovers and points they created were critical to A&M's success on the day. Sophmore DB Donovan Wilson picked off two balls, taking one to the house for 6 points, and sealing the game with the other.
Coaches today were asked about the performances of their units in each phase of the game, and what challenges they foresee while preparing for a home game against Auburn next week.
Kevin Sumlin on the 12th Man
"I just want to say that I thought our fans did a great job Saturday. I just want to thank the 12th Man and our team wanted to thank the 12th Man. ... The weather was not nice and it was an early kick, and we had a great crowd Saturday. The crowd was really loud and really affected the game. We're going to need that again this weekend.
Just wanted to say thank you — we don't take that for granted. You look across the country, attendance, our fans are as good as anybody."
Kevin Sumlin on whether or not there is still a QB competition
"No. Kyler is going to start this game.
(Kyle Allen and Jake Hubenak) will share the reps this week and based on that we'll see what happens at that position, who the next guy is in the game. You don't plan on your quarterback's helmet coming off in a series, and if it does it's usually a nasty hit and you have time to get guys reps. (When Kyler's helemet popped off against South Carolina) Kyle was on the bench and Jake was standing up, so he went out there."
Kevin Sumlin on Kyler Murray's running ability aiding the offense
"His ability to get to the perimeter certainly didn't hurt us at all, and maybe loosened up some things inside. But Auburn sees that all the time in practice. Gus Malzahn always has been really, really good at running the ball and finding a power running scheme even though it's a spread offense. A power running scheme that attacks both the interior and the perimeter."
Kevin Sumlin on Auburn's offensive attack
"If you watch Auburn, they want to be a power run team. So their backs and the way they've been able to handle quarterbacks being part of the power run game, whether it's inside or getting a blocker on the perimeter to help them, has been very effective for them. Once you commit eight, nine guys up there to try to get that thing stopped, their big plays come off play-action. ... We've got to shore up our run defense, but we've GOT to eliminate big plays. Keep everything in front of us, contest balls in the passing game and try to create turnovers.
Our defense hung in there and created turnovers, but we've got to eliminate big plays, especially against this offense."
Jake Spavital on Kyler Murray's progress with the playbook
"He's going to continue to keep getting better. From what you've seen from his performance from the Arizona State game until now, you can tell he's getting more comfortable. Each week, based off what we think will lead us to success, we're going to put that into the game plan because Kyler can handle it."
Jake Spavital on Kyler's freedom to check plays at this point
"He's got all the freedom that I give every quarterback. He made a few checks in the game, things we discussed throughout the week and he saw looks they gave and changed it and I thought he did great. I think he's comfortable, and that's a lot to do with our discussions throughout the week."
Jake Spavital on working with John Chavis for game prep
"That's a pretty tough question because Kyler's only got so much on tape and I think he's a dynamic thrower as well. But I talk to Coach Chavis every week about how he thinks teams will play us."
John Chavis on increasing forced turnovers
"We do turnover circuits, but the biggest thing is stripping the football. We practice even things like pulling the fingers off the football, we go into that much detail. We need to create turnovers, that's the easiest way to get off the field. Then you've got guys doing it and it becomes contagious.
You'd be amazed sometimes at the things they have to see before the snap, during the snap, and then have to run over and decide whether to tackle or strip the football. We've gotten better, and they're buying into it."
John Chavis on stopping big plays against the defense
"I don't think it's physical. I really don't. We've gone back and looked at it; you can't put a finger right on it, because if you could we would have it fixed already. But it's been a multitude of things. It's a linebacker not in his gap, or a missed tackle. We've got to continue to grow. It's a confidence thing, and that's the thing we talked about Monday.
... It was 190 yards on four plays. Usually you're talking about four plays, you lost. You can't play defense in this league and give up 190 yards on four plays."
John Chavis on Donovan Wilson
"We saw a little bit in spring practice. It was a situation coming into spring practice, a lot of guys on defense felt a breath of fresh air because of the change. We're not going to talk about last year, and that's what we said, we're going to move forward. There's going to be competition, there are no starters — even Myles Garrett, you have to earn your spot. He took that challenge, and I knew I was going to anyway."