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photo: Brandon Jones, TexAgs.com
On what a win like that does...Sumlin: "What it does is give players confidence in each other. That's really what's important. The ability to keep playing and the belief afterward that you can win no matter the situation. There were all kinds of situations that presented themselves in that game that said we should lose. Whether it was six turnovers, getting down with eight minutes to go, all those situations our guys had to deal with that and win the football game. You had to get some bounces and some calls, but it creates confidence in each other. And until you're in that situation, the growth of your team doesn't happen.
"And it happens when your offense believes in your defense and your defense believes in your offense. And it's individual confidence that you can get a stop or score at any time. We have enough talent, we do have the players on this team, we do have the type of team that can win a game at any time no matter the situation."
On the takeaways he's not pleased with...Sumlin: "Well, obviously you can't have six turnovers. Hopefully we never see that again (chuckle). The other thing was the third-down defense, which has been great all year long. First-down and second-down defense was good but third-down wasn't there. We've been spoiled, because it's been good.
"In college football, turnover margin is huge, particularly on the road. We punted one time. So we weren't stagnant offensively. We did some things that hurt ourselves. To turn it over six time and the defense still only give up 27 points with that many turnovers ... we had winning stats, except for turnover margin. Our message yesterday was, 'Here's what we're capable of. But you made it hard on yourselves.' On the road, as things go on, the ball can bounce either way and you lose that. Clean it up, and it's going one way.
"Our guys understand that and it's a learning process. But as it played out, the ability for us to make those plays at the end of the game, for us to create that confidence ... as a coach and as a program, you can't simulate that."
On Jonathan Stewart's leadership...Sumlin: "I don't know that it's just Jonathan. If you look at our group of linebackers, it's he and (Sean). We're so multiple that one of them is always on the field. J-Stew can be off the field and Sean in the middle, but rarely will they both be off. They're getting us lined up and the combination of the two is extremely important. They've played in more big games than anybody.
"Sean Porter, at the snap of the ball, is crossing and takes up three blockers (on the fourth-down stop). J-Stew's around the corner and makes the tackle. Those types of things, as your team sees that, it's a trust. 'Hey, listen, I'm doing my job to get this done. You've got to make this play and get off the field.' That's the biggest difference in our team right now, understanding the scheme and understanding their job and their role. 'I didn't make the tackle, but what I did was more important to us winning the game.' That takes a lot.
On scoring off turnovers...Sumlin: "It's big. We've talked about game-changers. Depending on the situation, that can be a 14-point swing. Turning turnovers into points, which we've been able to do, that's been the biggest difference. We've been able to turn turnovers into not just offensive points but returns for touchdowns. Offensively, we've done a great job ... until last week. We're back to zero in turnover margin. Seven giveaways and seven takeaways now. We're back to even. But we've got to keep climbing back up there and doing a better job of taking care of the ball and what we're doing defensively in trying to create turnovers."
On the difference between LaTech preseason and now...Sumlin: "I see a better team. I'm not surprised that they're ranked. They lost three or four very close ballgames last year to ranked teams — Houston, Southern Miss, Mississippi State, and a series away from beating TCU in a bowl game. Those were four pretty good teams. This year, all you've got to do is go look at them going on the road and playing Virginia, going to Illinois and — on video, Illinois is pretty good on defense — they put it on Illinois. They're not going to be intimidated by us one bit, and they shouldn't be.
"This is a game that it doesn't surprise me where they are. We're excited to play a top-25 team. Sonny (Dykes) does a great job with that whole program. He's got a veteran team, a team that's been around each other, has answers for when you try to do other things. They've done a nice job. (QB) Colby Cameron understands what they're doing, has been in big ballgames. We'll be on national TV. We'll get their best shot."
On Taylor Bertolet...Sumlin: "(Bertolet's ankle injury) is still about the same. He's still got some issues from that, but what are you going to do? I'm not going to kick (smirk). This doesn't go away in a week. It's something you deal with. But it's no different than if you had a bad wrist and were playing baseball. It's going to affect you.
"He'll be alright. It's something he's got to battle through. It hasn't hurt him kicking off. He's got strength to kick the ball off. His strength, from an accuracy standpoint, that's where he's been struggling."
On Deshazor Everett...Sumlin: "What? ...Is that an injury question? Yeah, you can (ask). (Pause.) I will say that those that were out for the suspensions at the beginning of the year still stand. Steven Jenkins and Howard Matthews will not play. Shep Klinke is out for the year, had surgery last week for a broken bone in his foot. He's done for the year. That's your injury report. Next."
On how far Johnny Manziel has come...Sumlin: "His teammates are trusting him to make plays. There've been situations where guys were open and he took off. Not to put it all on him, but we had guys open in the second half against Florida and throughout the year. We just didn't get it out. He held on to it. We had a quarterback who took sacks. Driskel did the same thing. He held on to it and we had eight sacks (chuckle). It's a progression.
"As receivers, you keep running your routes and doing the things you have to do and we'll get to it on video. It's confidence in him. Where I just came from, we had plenty of games like Saturday's and came back. I don't want that to be the case all the time here, being behind. But the confidence people have in their quarterback are where you go, 'We can win this game.' And I'm talking not just about the receivers, I'm talking about the defensive line, kickers, everyone. That confidence level is the biggest part."
On his locker room celebration...Sumlin: "There won't be any more cameras in the locker room. That's not going to happen. But, that's just part of it. You have to remember, 20 minutes before that we were losing by 10 points. That's all in perspective. It's OK to celebrate. We have 12 games, and 20 minutes before that we were behind by 10 points. So, that's what happens. In a situation where all I've heard about is what happens to our team and how we don't handle things very well at the end, it's OK to be excited.
"Football is an emotional game. Emotion is a big part of what we do. If anything, particularly in the venues we play in and we're going to play in ... it's a heck of a lot easier at Kyle Field to have that kind of energy, but the places we're going in this league and the environments we'll play in, you have to have that energy to play. We talk about being prepared to play. Three things: Physically — that's what Larry Jackson does, and we've done it; mentally, where the coaches come in, meetings come in, your own time watching video and preparing for the game comes in; and emotionally. That's your job as a player. That's not my job. I don't have a speech every week.
"You have to prepare yourself emotionally to play at this level of college football. Certainly we can help that as coaches, but if you can't prepare with emotion and be on edge to play, that's what we see happen. People say, 'They're flat.' But that's heart. That's the challenge in college football: Consistency. How you come out every week with emotion. It's always been that way. And it will never change."
On Manziel seeing all kinds of looks as defenses prepare for him...Sumlin: "When you've got a good young one, that's going to happen."
On Manziel's quick departure from the field...Sumlin: "I didn't ask him. We didn't talk about it."
On the development of the interior line...Sumlin: "Spencer Nealy has done a fabulous job inside. He's really been — just like you asked about Stewart and Porter — that combination inside has really been a cornerstone of our defense. I know Damontre's getting a lot of pub, but with what's going on inside there's reasons for that. Nealy and Damontre played every snap of that football game. That gets back to the prepare physically part.
"That's the kind of leadership, when you talk to your team on Monday and some guys are complaining about not being able to do this and that, we talk about effort and who's doing what. We've got Ben Malena rushing for 100 yards and he's covering kickoffs. We've got a number of guys who are doing their job, 'plus.' Spencer Nealy, for him to move from end to inside — which, just so you know, is the craziest thing in the world to go to bed at night thinking, 'Tomorrow, no matter what goes on, I'll have two guys double team me for three hours, only 600-something pounds if I'm lucky, and they'll never call my name. Because my job is to take up double teams and let guys make tackles.'
"What kind of guys would sign up for that? Nealy is that kind of guy, and he understands that. He might have a screw loose, but it takes one to do that (laughter). We need to find about five more guys that want that. He's a great example for our team and does a great job for us."
On Toney Hurd...Sumlin: "At one time we were trying to recruit him and Colton Valencia and they were both committed to Notre Dame, and then they both ended up coming here. Between he and Knile Davis, all these guys we tried to recruit (at Houston) and it wasn't happening. He's a very smart guy, very prideful. Our defense has done a nice job with interchangeable parts. Deshazor (Everett)'s been moving around. To have Toney play nickel and safety ... it's been hard for people to get a bead on where we are, who's playing what type of coverages.
"Toney's smart, he's a good tackler, he makes plays on special teams and he's a high-effort guy. I'm glad he's here."
On how rare it is to find Malena types...Sumlin: "It's what we've done. We had a guy last year (at Houston) in Mike Hayes who rushed for 800 yards and covered kickoffs. Our best players have to contribute on special teams. A lot of times, that's running backs. Utilization of those guys across the board becomes important. Special teams plays, particularly punt and kickoff, those are going to cover a minimum of 30 to 40 yards of field position — in space.
"So you need to have your best players out there to do something, to cover kicks. That's a huge chunk of yards. There's not another play in the game where you can guarantee there'll be an exchange of at least 30 yards. Once guys understand the importance of that huge chunk of real estate and that we need our best players out there, I think it's easier."
On whether he would send a guy on special teams if he didn't want to go...Sumlin: "(If that were the case,) He shouldn't be on the team."
On how well he knows Sonny Dykes...Kingsbury: "Real well. He was at Texas Tech the whole time I was there and I played for his dad. I did (play with Kevin Curtis), he's one of my best friends. Coaches their defensive backs. Great player, great coach. I don't think it gives you any feel for them. Just having played them last year, you know they're a quality opponent. Last year they outplayed and outcoached us, so we'll be ready."
On spread offenses that can run...Kingsbury: "The game just keeps evolving. I don't think it's a trend. You just do what fits your personnel and some are getting better and better at doing that."
On the six turnovers...Kingsbury: "(Manziel) only had three, we had six (total). It's part of the game, but we have to take care of the football and do better with it. They did a great job of making plays."
On talking to Manziel after the turnovers...Kingsbury: "I can tell what happened most of the time and we talk it out and move on. He's got a short memory, as you can see. He played great at the end of the game."
On what Ole Miss was showing and what confused Manziel...Kingsbury: "Being young. He's got to pull the trigger. He'll get better."
On Manziel's TD run where the defender seemed to give up...Kingsbury: "Yeah, it looked like two-hand touch. I think the kid thought he was going out of bounds and pulled up to try to not get a late-hit flag."
On the different defenses Manziel is seeing...Kingsbury: "We've five-for-five — in what we've prepped for all week, they've come out and shown every time. He's done a good job and the guys in the box have, of revamping our plan and getting going. I thought Ole Miss had a good plan and definitely changed up some looks. They did some things we haven't seen on film and really played well."
On Mike Evans...Kingsbury: "He's definitely a guy you've got to push up the field and get the ball to more. He's a talented kid and we need to get him the ball."
On Ben Malena...Kingsbury: "He's a pleasure to coach. He gets out there to take reps and he'd take every snap if you'd let him. He's always ready to play. He's definitely the type of player you want on your team."
On the run game's development...Kingsbury: "It's going to be game-to-game. We've said all along, we have three good running backs and they can have a game like that at any time. We're just going to keep running the ball."
On Manziel's body language after the turnovers...Kingsbury: "He was fine. He wanted to get back out there and get the ball to his teammates, and that was good to see. He never blinked."
On the red zone problems...Kingsbury: "This last week, we had a bad plan and I'll take that one. They really outschemed us, especially when we got down there. We were calling plays that weren't working. All-in-all, the run's coming along, and when you get down there and can't run it, you've got to throw it."
On the third-down toss to Malena...Kingsbury: "It was a new wrinkle and we just didn't get what we wanted."
On the winning pass from Manziel to Swope...Kingsbury: "It was a great throw. They showed all-out and that's Johnny's go-to guy. It was third down and we were going to go for it on fourth down.We checked to that corner route and Johnny knew he had to throw it quick and that was a great throw."
On LaTech's defense...Kingsbury: "They play with a lot of effort. They don't give up easy ones and cause a lot of turnovers. We've got to take care of the football and be ready to go."
On the biggest takeaway from the game...Snyder: "Did a lot of good things. Obviously we need to tighten down our coverage a bit on the edge. We weren't as productive on third down as we have been, and a lot of the culprit was we were playing too soft on the edges. Other than that, I was pretty pleased."
On LaTech's spread...Snyder: "We're going into another Arkansas, Ole Miss. We've seen this type of offense for three straight weeks. They're similar in what they do. They want to distribute the ball and they have run games. That's my challenge as a coordinator, they can run the ball. You've got to pick your poison, and that's why we've got to tighten up a bit. We've got some talent out there ... I don't know if the score dictated playing off that much, but for whatever reason we were way, way off the receivers."
On playing without Jenkins and Matthews...Snyder: "Other guys have to step up. Donnie Baggs had his best game on defense for us and, listening to Coach (Brian) Polian, he had his best game on special teams. He'll have to step up for us. Floyd (Raven) will be a major part of it. He's coming along. I probably should have put him in the game on Saturday."
On Toney Hurd...Snyder: "Toney's a good football player. He struggled a bit; our corners struggled a bit. One thing was the competition they were going against. But Toney's going to bounce back. He did at the end of the game in a big way."
On Howard Matthews' progress...Snyder: "(He's come) light years. Light years. His attention to detail, all those things have come. He's got to stay out of it mentally and get ready to roll a week from now."
On the fourth-down stop...Snyder: "Like Jonathan, I thought it was going to be a quarterback sneak again. They had given it to us earlier, and maybe that's why they went away from it. I was anticipating that as well. I'll tell you what, Sean Porter came off the ball and blew into the backfield and Jonathan Stewart shot his guns at the right time and came into the hole ... and ended up winning."
On Stewart...Snyder: "He's one of the quarterbacks of our defense and to have him buying in like he's buying in ... I'll give you an example. He was going too early and we had to come back on Thursday right here in Kyle Field and ran that play again and again and again. He's got to shoot his gun. And he shot his gun. That's (coachability)."
On LaTech QB Colby Cameron...Snyder: "He's got talent around him, a tailback he can hand the ball too, they get it outside, they give him high-percentage throws. He's making it work right now."
On where the secondary should be lined up...Snyder: "Six to seven yards (off the line of scrimmage). They were at eight and bailing. That's not a good combo on third down. I'm OK with that on first and second down, but we work way too hard on third down. We addressed that this morning and we'll continue to address that."
On the interceptions...Snyder: "It's coming. We're not where we need to be, but it's coming. I'm not displeased, but I want more. We talk about missed opportunities but we didn't seem to have any this weekend. They're making plays."
On LaTech's run game...Snyder: "They run power, zone read."
On pass-blocking in the new scheme...Joeckel: "It's different than what we're used to, but we're getting used to it. The Florida game was kind of a shock. But Johnny can hold the ball however long it takes to make a play, and he's done a great job of that. The offensive line has done a great job of maintaining blocks, staying with our guy, locking up and not letting him go."
On how much progress the OL has made...Joeckel: "I think we've made a ton. All five of our starters have really bought in to everything. We all bought in and Coach Anderson has done a great job with us, making us all buy in. Our running game is starting to get there. We're firing out of our stance and trying to put pressure on the D-line."
On the offensive confidence late in the game...Joeckel: "We realized that that entire game we were just killing ourselves. We had six or seven turnovers. We were just killing ourselves. They had a good defense but we knew we could run the ball and they would have a hard time stopping us. We had to cut down on mental mistakes and errors and we could move the ball."
On how much time they give Manziel...Joeckel: "Yeah, this was the game where we kind of realized, 'Man, he's holding the ball a while.' There were a couple hurry-up plays where all five of us just kind of looked at each other like, 'Man.' Coach Kingsbury gave us a chance to catch our breath. This was the game where we realized Johnny can hold the ball a while, but we're making plays."
On why the run game is improving...Joeckel: "It was little things. It wasn't the scheme, it was the hand placement and other things and guys have just gotten better at that."
On what's difficult about the two-point stance...Joeckel: "It's getting your first step down. You don't have the leverage or the lean (of a three-point stance). If you don't get down, your guy will blow you back."
On why Manziel ran off...Joeckel: "I don't know, we were all chasing him (laughter). But we were too slow to catch him. I still haven't figured out what."
On recovering from the poor play...Lewis: "We just kept playing hard and stayed true to the scheme and we were able to come back and pull off a victory."
On Johnny Manziel's demeanor as the game went on...Lewis: "You could tell that he was kind of shaken a little bit, but Johnny's real poised beyond his years and he was able to collect himself and bring us back on those drives. Adversity shakes you up a bit, but you have to remember that we have a job left to do. He did a good job of collecting himself and leading us as an offense and got the job done at the end."
On playing for Sumlin...Lewis: "It's been exciting. He's changed the culture at Texas A&M to where we don't just accept the minimum. We want to go beyond our expectations for ourselves and that he has for us. It's been exciting with the new uniforms and the new stuff in Aggieland, but it's been the attitude that's kept us going."
On Ben Malena...Lewis: "Ben is a workhorse. He does the same thing in practice. He does a lot for this football team, he's on special teams as well. Special teams don't get much in the paper, but he's running down and making tackles, breaking runs on offense, very strong-willed football player. It's players like Ben that keep this offense going."
On going back to Louisiana...Lewis: "It's real exciting. Louisiana is home, Shreveport not so much because it's about five hours from my actual home. But just to play on Louisiana soil is exciting for me. I don't think J-Stew could be any happier. All his buddies from Shreveport will be there. Half the stadium will probably be rooting for him. I'm excited for him as well."
On watching Ole Miss go on long drives...Lewis: "It was real frustrating but it just makes you want to go back out there and score real quickly, put them back on the field and see if they can keep up with us. But they did a good job of keeping the ball away from us. There's not much you can say about it but when you get the ball back you want to score as quickly as possible. We just want to get back on the field and get some more scoring opportunities."
On when it felt like the game had turned and they would win...Name: "Yeah, actually, Coach (B.J.) Anderson predicted that if we got this stop when it was 27-17, we would win 31-30. We got the ball back, got a scoring drive and went from there. But I think (Anderson) did a good job of predicting what we'd do. That's why we preach keep playing. When you keep playing, good things happen. We were down going into the half and then Jenkins got the interception returned for the touchdown. This team keeps playing hard and fighting no matter what. The objective is for us to overcome."
On getting held all game...Moore: "Yeah, there was some holding. But that comes with the game and the territory. It happens."
On playing another spread team...Moore: "They're a pass-happy offense and they like to set up plays like runs to keep us on our toes. If we just read our keys, we should be alright."
On winning a close game after last year...Moore: "It's an overwhelming experience. It means a lot to us because it helps us build confidence in ourselves and realize that we're not the same team. Last year we probably just hung our heads. It was such a trend and a habit last year and to see us break it this year ... it's a new era. We pride ourselves on that. We're trying to build mental toughness and keep our heads up and execute our schemes and hope the ball falls our way."
On not having Steven Jenkins and Howard Matthews...Moore: "I look at Donnie Baggs and all the other young guys. Whoever is behind them that wants to step up in practice. Whoever the coaches think is working hard and will help us. They're not going to put us in a bad situation."
On getting more turnovers this year...Moore: "It just has to do with the pass rush getting there, and Coach Sumlin put a lot of emphasis last year on PBUs and not making catches. If you get your hand on it, you need to catch it. Everyone has been doing more work on that in practice, getting with the machines and stuff. It has to do with that and focus."
On the development of the interior of the D-line...Moore: "I'm really pleased with all of them. It shows how versatile (Spencer Nealy) is. He played end last year, and in high school. For him to move throughout the defensive line shows how versatile and how talented of a player he is. To see the younger guys come in and work hard, and the older guys too, everybody's getting better. It's a great experience to watch.
"I feel like me personally, I've cut down on my penalties and I'm using my hands better than last year. Spencer, you can point out how he played at end, started two-a-days at end, moved to defensive tackle and he's just as productive. Julien (Obioha) has come in as a true freshman and worked on his role in the scheme as an end. You see Gavin Stansbury getting more reps and he's been a productive player, him and Julien competing. Everybody's improving in their own special way."
On preparing for Louisiana Tech's offense...Moore: "I haven't watched them much yet to be honest. But I know they're a fast offense, lots of passing and then hit you with a zone read. I'm going to watch more film to be sure. I think the last game they were in, there were 101 offensive plays if I'm not mistaken. All I can say is we need to stay hydrated and put in the work."
On playing more snaps...Moore: "Coach (Larry) Jackson stayed on us in the summer, pushing us mentally and physically, with nutrition, everything. I've cut down on the soda and been drinking a lot more water. They've been harping us on water intake. And then the strength & conditioning. It's not too rigorous anymore."
Jonathan StewartStewart: "Due to circumstances we weren't able to play (in Week 1), but we're excited to go back and play Louisiana Tech this week."
On whether both teams being ranked adds to the excitement...Stewart: "We're excited, not just because we're both ranked but because we have another opportunity to play again and improve on the mistakes we made last week. We're going to come out this week a much-improved football team than we were last week."
On what the key to Ole Miss' offensive success was...Stewart: "Defensively, it was that we weren't getting off the field on third downs. We had success on first- and second-down and then they'd keep their drive going."
On when he came back in on the final Rebel drive...Stewart: "When Sean (Porter) made that big stop and then they put their QB sneak formation in. At the last second Coach (Mark) Snyder gave us the call and we got lined up and got the stop."
On the defense's improvement in turnovers forced...Stewart: "We had the same mindset last year. The only difference is guys are making the plays this year. Last year we had multiple PBUs that we should have caught. This year, guys are just making them. Defensive coordinators talk about turnovers, turnovers. Turnovers are a crucial part of the game and this year we're getting them."
On Louisiana Tech...Stewart: "They're an explosive offense. You can't just look at them like, 'Oh, it's Louisiana Tech.' We have to come ready to play this game."
On Donnie Baggs preparing to see more time with Steven Jenkins suspended...Stewart: "I have a lot of confidence in Donnie. He keeps getting better every week. Last week he had some effort plays. He brings a lot to the table."
On the postgame locker room celebration...Stewart: "Everybody was emotional. We were all so happy because we had to keep fighting, keep fighting. Everything was going Ole Miss' way, turnovers, everything, and we never gave up. We got into the locker room and everybody loved it."
On how film review was after the game...Stewart: "It's always easier to be critical after a win than a loss. You can understand what Coach is talking about more after you win than when you lose."
On what Snyder has been telling them...Stewart: "That we can't give up that many yards as a defense, regardless of the situation or the scenario. We have to get off the field on third down. That was probably the worst third down defense we've played all season. We need to get stops and get off the field."
On food recommendations in Shreveport...Stewart: "Everything. Whatever you're looking for, you'll find in Shreveport. Urbanspoon it."
-Stewart also took a moment to ask everyone to keep the people lost in the plane crash and their families in their prayers-