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James Sullivan: A&M leadersip talks preperation before colossal Gator clash

Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 15:09

The tension hung thick in the air over Tuesday’s press conference, suspending itself over A&M football’s top coaches and key players. The high-strung atmosphere was as transparent as glass, growing with every intruding question inquired.

It may as well have been an interrogation.

Following each member’s testimony up on the podium, it continued to become increasingly obvious that they had other thoughts clouding their minds. With less than a week until, arguably, one of the program’s most pivotal matchups in its history, one can’t blame them for the
absentmindedness.

The University of Florida, an esteemed football powerhouse, will be visiting Texas A&M for the latter’s inaugural conference, and season, opener this Saturday. In recognition of the contest’s national clout, ESPN will even be hosting its premier pre-game analysis show, College GameDay, in front of Kyle Field the morning of the
colossal matchup.

The implications of the game’s outcome are epic on a biblical scale.

Within the preoccupied answers of the Aggies, however, lie multiple strong points about where the team stands mentally and physically entering the Florida matchup.

As such, crucial quotes from the press conference have been selected and listed below. Attached to each will be substantive exploration of its meaning and the insight it provides on the game this upcoming Saturday.

Luke Joeckel, Jr. OT – “I think our [offense] will be something completely new. I don’t think they’ve seen it. We have to come and play hard against them. Our offensive line, we’ve got an experienced group, we got to play our best game.”

Analysis: Anchoring one of the top O-Lines in the country, Joeckel and the offense enter the SEC boasting a unique style of play. The Aggies’ new league is mostly unfamiliar with the spread Sumlin has brought to the program, allowing A&M the opportunity to produce points with general ease.

Ryan Swope, Sr. WR – “There’s great character on this football team. This team is ready to play and we’re just really anxious to get on the field. There is just a great vibe in the air right now. The team is excited and we’re just really confident right now.”

Analysis: Considered the Aggies’ top skill player, Swope has emerged as the unspoken leader of the A&M offense. Since Sumlin took over last December, the team has only played against itself, making the squad’s desire to get on the field all the stronger. The emotion that comes along with the return to Kyle Field may give the Aggies a much-needed boast.

Kevin Sumlin, Head Coach – “[Johnny Manziel] is an inexperienced player and because of that, the surrounding cast of our offensive line, our running backs and our skill people on the perimeter who have experience have to play well. They have to create a quarterback friendly atmosphere for him so as to take the pressure off him and fortunately, we have experienced players in those positions.”

Analysis: Entering the Florida matchup, A&M will be led by redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel at quarterback. Competing for his first time on at the college level, the stress the position creates along with the hype surrounding the game is a disaster waiting to happen if the young QB receives no support.

With veteran players such as Luke Joeckel, Ryan Swope, Christine Michael and Jake Matthews backing up Manziel, however, the first-time starter is geared up to make some ripples in his debut.

Steven Terrell, Sr. FS – “You can’t get caught up in the smoke and mirrors at the beginning of the play. We just have to be prepared, have good eyes and stay on our toes. I feel like that if we just worry about us, [then] we can just go out and play our defense and we’ll be fine. ”

Analysis: Referring specifically to the Florida offense, the Terrell and the Aggie defense will be tasked with shutting down a fast and confusing blend of athletes. Despite dismal performances in multiple units last season, however, the young safety expresses confidence in the defensive coordinator Mark Snyder’s new schemes, especially with the perplexing formations of the
Gator offense.

 

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