A&M looks toward South Carolina State
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 00:09
The Texas A&M football program is coming off a win against the SMU Mustangs. With a 1-1 overall record, the Aggies have seen improvements in key areas but the coaches acknowledge there is room for improvement as the season continues Saturday against FCS opponent South Carolina State.
“After the first game, we needed to improve our effort on special teams and that happened,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “Our defense was consistent. Our special teams changed field position with returns, and that gave us an opportunity to kick it in offensively and get rolling and close out the game.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors and led the Aggies to the 48-3 victory over the Mustangs. Manziel has been working on becoming more of a pocket quarterback and facilitating the offense by reading through his progressions.
“I think that Johnny's improvement from Saturday to Saturday was his ability to throw the ball from the pocket and keep his eyes down the field,” Sumlin said. “What he's finding out is that he's not the fastest or most talented guy on the field. We can talk to him about what we want him to do and what we don't want him to do, but he's a very talented guy that has got to continue to work on moving from an athlete that's playing quarterback to a quarterback that's an athlete.”
While the focus has been on the improvement on the offensive side, the eye test can tell that the defense has improved, not only on the week-to-week basis, but a distinct difference from the defense that was on the field last year.
“[I am] pleasantly surprised,” said defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. “We’re playing with a lot of effort, playing very physical and they are doing everything we’re asking them to do.”
The defense is propelled by aggressive play calling from Snyder in combination with his imposing pass-rusher, junior defensive end Damontre Moore. Moore’s five sacks ranks second among FBS teams and speaks to his impact.
“Damontre's maturation process — you can see it,” Snyder said. “We talked about what was needed and what kind of player he could become. If he would just trust in us and do what we ask him to do, good things will happen.”
With the excitement of the offense clicking and the defense becoming a force, the concern of looking ahead lingers overhead against the athletically inferior Bulldogs. The players and coaches denied the speculation.
“We know that they're a football team that's hungry to win,” said senior wide out Ryan Swope. “We're looking forward to this game and we've just got to take every game one at a time and take a look at the film and have a good practice.”
The Aggies will take on the Bulldogs this Saturday at Kyle Field. Game time is set for 6 p.m.