Story Poster
Kevin Sumlin
John Chavis
Jake Spavital
Myles Garrett
Kyle Allen
Josh Reynolds
Tra Carson
Julien Obioha
Brandon Williams
Joe Cheek
Sam Moeller
Brice Dolezal
Texas A&M Football

Texas A&M Football weekly press conference: Alabama

October 13, 2015

Coach and player videos will be added as they render out.

Kevin Sumlin

On Otaro Alaka, James White & Speedy Noil's injuries...
"You know we don't talk about injuries, Sam. We go through this every week." (Smirking.)

On Alabama's influence in Texas recruiting...
"I don't know if influence is the word we're looking for. Alabama is a national brand. You can't help but be a national brand when you're the winningest college football program since 2008. So they're able to recruit nationally. They're a very talented team across the board and they're very well-coached. You combine that with the tradition they've had and do have and it's (simple).

"To be involved in a game like this, to be in the SEC three years and be in a game that has conference and national implications is a great thing for Texas A&M. And it's great for our fans, because it's at home."

On the multiple coaching change news on Monday...
"Things have escalated quickly. Salaries have escalated, expectations have escalated, and because of that it's a short rope. If you're in this business, you get that. But as Coach Spurrier said, everybody can't win. Everybody wants to, but everybody can't win. But because of that, there will be casualties. Because of the investment made in programs now, time is short. It's competitive at the top. I left Coach Spurrier a message last night and watched the press conference today. You guys know me, I think the world of him. He's who I wanted to be.

"A guy who moved into the SEC, threw the ball and won championships, had the most interesting press conferences in the world, he's accomplished a lot of things. A lot of people don't know him as a person and to see that was a bit tough, but he's had an impact on me, obviously, and Bob Stoops and a lot of other coaches. It's hard. Not a lot of people can say they won a Heisman, coached a Heisman and won a national championship. I don't know that there will be many people who can ever say that."

On Alabama's defensive front...
"They've been recruiting to their system. When you look at them, they're big. And they're fast. They've got three guys starting who are over 300 pounds. Reggie Ragland gets them lined up, is all over the place. There's a lot of NFL players on this field. They lead the country in three and outs on defense. So the first thing you'd better do is get a first down, instead of worrying about the other part of it.

"Kirby Smart does a great job. They're well-coached, aggressive, know what they're doing and they're hard to move up front."

On Thomas Johnson...
"I really can't because of the ongoing investigation. Like the statement said, it's just a tragedy for everybody involved. ... Maybe when it's done, we can talk about it."

On whether this is a benchmark game for the program...
"I don't know, they said that the last game we played against Mississippi State. I'm not being smart here — as you win, every week I come up here and 'this game' is the biggest game. This game is the biggest game because we're 5-0 and it's Alabama and we're top-10 teams trying to win a division championship and get to Atlanta. Last week put us in position because we hadn't beat a ranked team in Kyle Field. If we keep winning ... is it a benchmark? It's a benchmark in the SEC every week."

On the Tide running game...
"What you've seen them do is settle on a quarterback now, and Coker is playing pretty well. Lane Kiffin has come in the last couple years and you see the change in personnel offensively, a lot of run-pass combination concepts. You'll load the box and they flip it out, you get out there and they hand it off to the big guy. They've got an experienced offensive line, a quarterback who understands the system, and their two running backs are great. The freshman out on the perimeter is coming into his own.

"They're a running team, but they're also quite capable on the perimeter to get the ball there and make you tackle in space. That's the dimension Lane has brought there the last couple years and expanded them more than they used to be. But we've got to start with defending the run and work from there."

On any differences in playing in Kyle Field after the renovations...
"It's interesting, this year is the first year it's been completed. When we first got here it was the old Kyle Field, this year is the completion. Both sides are done, the field is lower, it is louder. It's considerably louder down there. The fans are tighter in there, the sightlines are better according to my dad. ... It's a great player experience and also a great fan experience. I think that's what everybody was trying to achieve, and it's very well-done."

On Derrick Henry...
"He's a load. He's a man. That's what he is. He's got enough speed, he gets out there and can make people miss. He's as big as a lot of the guys that are trying to tackle him from a linebacker standpoint, at 240. They've got a good 1-2 punch. The both of them counteract each other. They've got two backs, one is a bigger bruiser, the other is a shake-and-bake guy, and they compliment each other well. You need guys in this league that have different styles. You see them put them both on the field and utilize both of them.

"The interesting part is that the offensive line has a lot of guys back. They use tight ends and fullbacks and move guys around and present problems to you from a shift and motion standpoint. You've got to be on it and play sound gap football and gang-tackle. We've been doing that this year; it'll be a real big challenge for us."

On the team's physicality this year...
"The last two ball games we played in were extremely physical. We were able to win those games. There were parts of them, particularly Mississippi State, that we didn't handle well a year ago from a physical standpoint and we handled it a lot better this year. That's where this league is. Our goal is to do that. I don't know where you'd rate them, but are we more physical? Yes. Are we better? Yes. I guess we'll find out Saturday."

On how they've helped the players mentally...
"We've changed our practice schedule a bit and done some things, particularly from a recovery standpoint, and changed up our practice routine to try to help our guys. So far, so good. I think our guys feel really well right now, feel really good. We've got a lot of juice, a lot of energy. The bye week came at a good time for us. Last year going eight straight weeks was something we didn't handle well.

"So, when you look at it from our standpoint ... we didn't handle things very well last year, we weren't a very physical football team, so how do you change that without beating your team into the ground and not getting them ready. We've looked at ways to do that and as a coaching staff and a team, I feel good about the look in our guys' eye and their health right now. I feel good about team speed and being able to carry that into games."

On whether this game feels different than in 2013...
"Different people. And it was earlier in the year. It was still a big game. That's a good question, I don't know. What you want in your program is for that game to be like that every year."

On anecdotes from Kyle Allen's recruitment...
(Laughing.) "He's a guy that had popped up and Jake was out there recruiting him and over the course of time, we continued to communicate. I don't know if there's anything amusing about the recruitment of him, he was pretty much a no-nonsense guy when he got here on his visit, looked around and was trying to figure out where he was gonna go. His parents were out there and they're great people and were very supportive of him, even last year when he wasn't playing at this time. It takes a lot to create a support system and they're a close family. That's probably the first thing that jumped out at you, besides his talent. They're very supportive and they're here all the time, waiting around in the hotel lobby between meetings. He's a fine young man.

"We've got some great quarterbacks here, and his ability to go through what he did last year, have relative success and do what he's done this year, that's the same thing you talk to Kyler about. In this business you're one snap away from playing. In this league the idea is to stay healthy, and we do things to protect them, but playing against these types of teams week in and week out, our big challenge with our players is, 'Hey, you're one snap away from playing; we've got to keep getting better.' The competition has been good for Kyle and it's been good for Kyler."

On the 2:30 CBS slot...
"The 2:30 spot is something that, it's funny, the first year I got here our fans didn't understand it right away. But that time spot is not split like some other TV stations and programs. That 2:30 spot is all over the world. It's the marquee game. First of all, you'd like to be in that game. Second of all, you want to play at 2:30 as many times as you can because that means it's important and there's a lot of people watching."

John Chavis

On on the biggest challenges Alabama poses...
"Obviously they're very talented. They're big and physical up front, really, really good receivers ... and they do a good job with their offense. It's an offense that has a lot of moving parts. They're going to keep you from pressuring the quarterback by throwing screens; when their top concept is their screen game, that's something you take notice of. A screen can go for a lot or for zero. They do a good job running the screen game and it's all over the field. That's what jumps out at you."

On the Tide run game...
"They've got two good backs. The backs make the run game go, but the offensive line does a great job of blocking. They're more spread now than they were two, three years ago, so they run the ball from a lot of different formations, jet sweeps, they force you to play the entire field. You can't make mistakes, you've got to be able to tackle in space — and tackle good backs in space."

On Jake Coker...
"He's the starting quarterback in the SEC and for a really good football team. He's made first downs with his feet, he's not going to be as mobile as some quarterbacks we've seen, but he operates their system really well and they'll put him in the right place. And he helps get them in the right place. He's a smart quarterback that's good enough to be an SEC starter, and doing a good job."

On whether he takes anything away from how Arkansas defended Bama...
"We're going to play our defense. We're a bit different than Arkansas. We're not going to change our scheme. It's been tested at times and I need to help our players more at times with calls, but we're not going to change what we do. We're not going to do what somebody else does, we're not copycats. And they're going to know what we're going to do too, because we won't change."

On the advantage of playing in Kyle Field...
"It creates a great environment. Our football team will feed off our fans. We've got to give our fans something to cheer about and play well, but you've always got a big advantage here in Kyle Field. Our fans are special. I've been excited about what I've seen and our players will feed off that."

On the matchup between Cam Robinson and Myles Garrett...
"Hopefully, with our scheme we're going to create some 1-on-1 situations. We've seen a different set of schemes each week where people try to chip and rub, and also formation. (Garrett) is probably also going to see a lot of wing formation on his side where they have an opportunity to chip him and then get a receiver outside. Their boot game too, it's easy to get away from him by starting play action toward him and running away from him.

"A big part of what they do is just that, misdirection in the run game and play-action passes off that misdirection. I'm sure we'll see a lot of that also."

On whether he gets psyched up to face Alabama...
"I think, yeah, I hate to admit it, but probably so. You look at their stature. This is a big game for Texas A&M. My focus is on Texas A&M and this game being about us, but certainly, you've got a chance to go and compete against one of the best teams in the league and if that doesn't get you excited as a coach or player, you've got something missing. Players get (excited) for a game like this and coaches do too."

On facing Lane Kiffin meaning anything extra to him...
"No. Not at all."

On keeping the players focused...
"You've got to lay a foundation and I think Coach Sumlin has done that all year. ... He's done a great job of getting and keeping this team on track. It's about the process and the goals and what we have to go through to reach those goals. You don't just come in on Monday and say, 'Ok, it's a big game.' ... They know it's a big game. That's why they came to Texas A&M: to play in these type of ball games. To WIN these type of ball games."

Jake Spavital

On the use of the tight end/H-back...
"It gets us more multiple. The more looks you can throw at any defense, it's going to help us out. Especially with the development of Caden as a senior, he's come along and brings the edge we need. Jordan Davis is a different kid than he was starting spring ball to now. Those kids are playing at a high level; you don't want to put the game on their shoulders, but if you can package them in it gives teams more to prepare for throughout the week."

On finding balance on offense vs. Alabama's elite run D...
"You've got to be able to run the ball. They're a very physical team and their front seven is probably the best in the country. We're ready for the challenge. We've got to be more innovative than we have. The plan Coach Christensen's got in the run game will be very good against these guys."

On Kyle Allen's recruitment...
"I think Kyle's got a good personality. You talk about no-nonsense, when he was on his official visit and unofficial visits, he just liked to get a lay of the land and was kind of looking around and seeing what we had to offer and getting his questions answered. But once you're past that, he's a regular kid and even likes to be a jokester."

On his takeaways from 59-0 last year...
"When you lose 59 to 0 there has to be some evaluations going on, and that was something we handled in the off week after that last year. But we're a completely different team. We've talked about physical toughness, mental toughness, physicality and strength, and we put that approach in during the offseason and ... we're light years ahead of where we were at this point last year. Losing 59-0, you're always going to look back at it, but we always tell our kids we have to correct our mistakes and move on and that's what we've done this year."

On improvement in turnovers...
"It's something we preach every week with these kids. Coach Sumlin, every Tuesday he does a turnover margin speech with the team, every day we emphasize it in drills and position meetings. They understand the importance because usually, if you win the turnover battle, you'll win the game. You have to take care of the football."

On whether he experienced doubt as a coach after 59-0...
"Schematically we really haven't changed much. It's just added personnel that we've had. Last year I thought just the mentality of us, we gave in a little bit at the end of the year once we went through that eight-week stretch. You could see it took a toll on the kids. Mentally we knew we had to get better at that point.

"It's something that, this offense, I've seen it work for 25 years now. Mike Leach is still calling the same exact plays he called at Texas Tech and he's having success at Washington State with it. We know the scheme works and we've just got to get kids in the right position."

On the current physicality of the offense...
"We're a lot more physical as a unit, and a lot of that has to do with the perimeter. Some of the success we've had in the run game has been based off how those receivers are blocking downfield. Coach Moorehead has done a good job of making that a priority. People say you can't block physical without a tight end and we disagree."

On Christian Kirk playing such a physical team as a freshman...
"You worry about him going into that first game, that stage against his hometown team in a national spotlight, but he's shown he'll rise to the occasion, so I don't think it'll be any challenge for him at all."

On Ricky Seals-Jones...
"He'll play a big role with his ability to block and run. He'll be a mismatch at 6-6, 240. He can block but he can also jump out there. Ricky is coming along. People don't realize in that Nevada game he had five or six blocks that sprung touchdowns (or big plays). He didn't have any catches but he had the blocks. Then against Mississippi State he had four catches early. Guys are starting to block for each other and then when they get that opportunity, take advantage of it."
Discussion from...

Texas A&M Football weekly press conference: Alabama

17,696 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 8 yr ago by jickyjack1
Beau Holder
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Texas A&M Football weekly press conference: Alabama
My Dad Earl
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Spavital: "We've got to be more innovative than we have..."
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1) Evidence of the growth/maturation process in Allen is apparent. Not only is he physically bigger and more solid appearing, but his composure and confidence seem greatly enhanced (not that he had an especial deficit of either last year).

Part, of course, can be tallied to being a year older. But part has to be due to directed effort on his part.

While isolated growing pains probably will still surface, their frequency can be expected to steadily diminish; IMO people are beginning to feel confidence when he takes the field, and the confidence is justified.

IMO this situation is ideal for Kyler, also, because it affords him a stable platform from which to learn and perfect the applications -- he already has the skills -- to excel when his time inevitably comes. I just hope he is able to maintain patience until that point. If he can, his is going to be a wowser career.

2) Obioha is always impressive. He is a smart fellow, thinks quickly and speaks well. It is easy to imagine him a success in several avenues.

3) In Sumlin's appearance it looked like he has shined up his wedding ring. It will be nice to see him shine up Saban's eye, as well (oh pleezepleezepleeze).
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