Ennis injury highlights presser
Injury-ridden A&M confident as it heads into road game at Ole Miss
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 23:10
Texas A&M’s late September 45-33 victory over Southeastern Conference rival Arkansas was essential to maintaining the Aggies’ national championship hopes, but the road win came at a cost.
During A&M’s weekly press conference Tuesday, head coach Kevin Sumlin said senior defensive tackle Kirby Ennis suffered an ACL tear against Arkansas and, following surgery, will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
While Ennis’ impact of the field was meager statistically—with six tackles on the season—the senior provided leadership and poise on a defensive line loaded with underclassmen, including two juniors, a sophomore and four freshmen.
True freshman Isaiah Golden will replace Ennis. Golden has received limited reps with the first-team defense throughout the course of the season. Despite the difficulties associated with the transition from backup to starter, Golden’s teammates remain confident he will establish himself among the Aggie front seven.
“[Golden] has really proven himself to me,” said sophomore center Mike Matthews. “He doesn’t look like he’s 320 pounds, but he’s a big dude. He’ll push you back a couple yards. From the games I’ve seen him come in, he’s done a great job. He goes up there and gets in the backfield and applies pressure to the quarterback.”
The A&M defense will recover starting freshman linebacker Darian Claiborne, who sustained a thigh bruise against Arkansas, and hopes to bring back junior safety Floyd Raven Sr., who broke his collarbone against Sam Houston State and is “probable” for Saturday.
“[Raven] could probably play but I don’t know how much practice he’s going to get at this point,” Sumlin said. “We’ll see where he’s at and what he can do. He’s probable this week and probably probable next week.”
Throughout the press conference, the Aggies’ 30-27 victory over Ole Miss last season remained a common topic as players and coaches alike recalled the close win, which only tilted in A&M’s favor with 1:46 remaining in the game.
Due to the scheduling conflicts associated with a 14-program conference, the Aggies will again visit Oxford, Miss., Saturday in hopes of continuing their SEC road-winning streak in the same stadium where it all began.
Senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. said the win’s adverse conditions unified the 2012 squad, ultimately serving as a springboard for the year’s later success.
“One of the things I remember is we had a lot of adversity on offense, defense and special teams,” Hurd said. “Through that adversity, though, we found a way to come out with a W, and that’s what we’re looking to do this weekend.”
During the 30-27 victory, the Aggies sustained six turnovers and fell as far behind as 10 points. Sumlin said while the win failed to hold much weight at the time nationally, it mentally separated the 2012 squad from the previous year’s lead-squandering habits.
“You can point back to that and say that was a pretty big deal,” Sumlin said. “I wasn’t here the year before but all I heard was that we would’ve lost that game. All the emotion in the locker room to go out and win our first road game in the SEC. At the time, everybody said we beat a team that hadn’t won very much. That team ended up being a thorn in everybody’s side.”
Entering the game, Matthews said the key to success would be staving off mistakes the Aggies committed last year in Oxford, noting the A&M offense believed itself to be its own worst enemy rather than opposing defenses.
“I feel like we’re unstoppable,” Matthews said. “We’re always driving down the field, making big plays and guys are really playing great. Every time we step on the field, we expect to go out there and put points up on the board. It’s kind of a disappointment if we get stopped, especially because it’s us beating ourselves with mental errors and penalties.”