Coaches preach consistency, team embarks on SEC road debut
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 02:10
For Texas A&M, the 2012 season has evolved into a year destined for earth-shattering milestones. To cite a recent example, last Saturday’s 58-10 demolishing of Arkansas can be noted as the Aggies’ initial Southeastern Conference victory, not to mention the program’s first win over the Razorbacks since 1991.
And that’s not even digging into the multiple individual records, both for the school and within the conference, that were splintered over the weekend by a certain redshirt freshman quarterback.
This season is one for the history books and next Saturday’s visit to a hostile Oxford, Miss., will be no different. The Aggies will be on the road for the first time in the SEC, a scenario many teams loathe. Yet, for A&M, it holds a certain charm.
“I expect Ole Miss to be, obviously, a crazy atmosphere,” said senior wide receiver Ryan Swope during Tuesday’s press conference. “This is going to be special, though. This is what I signed up for when I came back to play. I want to experience all these road games and SEC schools and see what they have to offer.”
What both Florida and Arkansas experienced at Kyle Field during their Sept. 8 and 29 visits, respectively, A&M will be receiving whilst competing at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium this Saturday against the Rebels.
In an overall sense, Ole Miss will actually serve as the measure as to what the Aggies will encounter when taking trips to Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn later in the season.
With the Rebels sitting at 1-16 in conference play over the past three seasons, many fans and analysts have expressed belief that the game is, for all intensive purposes, a bye week.
The A&M coaching staff remains convinced that fostering an environment of complacency would only lead to future failure. In other words, any mention of Ole Miss as an “easy win” is forbidden.
Following the Rebels’ surprisingly close 33-14 loss to No. 1 Alabama last week, A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin saw support of his theories from, arguably, the top play caller in the country.
“Nick Saban said it best last week, ‘here’s a team playing with a lot of energy, plays hard [and is] well-coached,’” Sumlin said of the Rebels. “That is very indicative of Hugh [Freeze]. He’s won wherever he’s been. This is a well-coached bunch that plays extremely hard and has some good team speed.”
Freeze, like Sumlin, has also been fighting for his program’s respect among peers in his first SEC season. The underrated Rebels sit currently at 3-2 (0-1) with both losses coming to Top 15 powerhouses No. 11 Texas and No. 1 Alabama.
In other words, watch out Texas A&M. Competing against a talented, not to mention win-starved, team on the road in the SEC poses more possible problems than most would believe.
Fortunately, the Aggies’ leading seniors understand the enormity of the situation. Internal coaching of the freshmen will be essential throughout the course of the season, particularly during A&M’s initial road trip.
“You have to keep your helmet on,” said senior wide receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu. “You [can’t be] in tune of everything behind you. The combination of their athleticism, their effort on every play, they’re going to be a pretty good defense to test us.”