Sumlin, A&M refocus after loss
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 23:09
Tuesday’s press conference with Sumlin and Co. revealed that Saturday’s 49-42 loss to top-ranked Alabama has already been forgotten by the Texas A&M football program.
Texas A&M’s formerly perfect record (2-1, 0-1 SEC) may have been tarnished with an 0-1 SEC stain, but head coach Kevin Sumlin said the team has already moved past the loss and is instead focusing on Saturday’s home matchup against Southern Methodist University.
“[Monday], we had a chance to watch the video — [by positions] and as a team,” Sumlin said. “My message was, ‘After we’re done with that, we’re not talking about it anymore.’ That was the message win or lose. We’ve got nine more games. That’s been my approach wherever I’ve been, whether they’re big games or what. It doesn’t matter whether you’re mad or you’re ecstatic, the next week you’ve got to move on, and that’s what we’ve done.”
Despite the concentrated mindset with which Sumlin set the tone of the press conference, the A&M defense was forced to address many of its struggles against Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and the Crimson Tide offense, which posted 42 points and 568 total yards Saturday.
Senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. emphasized the need for the A&M defense to become independent, relying less on the production of Johnny Manziel and the potent Aggie offensive attack.
“Our offense is one of the best in the country, but as a defensive player you can’t depend on the offense,” Hurd said. “As a defense, you should go out there and pitch shutouts. We’re getting closer to our goal, but it’ll take time. That was our first time with the starting 11 out there, and I feel like we’re getting better and we’ll be hungry in the coming games.”
Against SMU (1-1, 0-0 AAC), A&M will face two of the nation’s top offensive minds in head coach June Jones and offensive coordinator Hal Mumme.
Jones, an offensive progressive with ties to the first run-and-shoot schemes, and Mumme, who introduced Division I college football to the first air raid system, have sought to implement a hybrid approach at SMU.
Despite the on-the-field battle, Sumlin and his staff share a healthy respect for the coaching legends on the opposite sideline, especially considering many branched off the coaching trees of Mumme or Jones.
“[Jones] has been a winner and was one of the first guys that took a non-BCS team to a BCS bowl game,” Sumlin said. “He’s been around the NFL game at the highest level. He has really impacted a number of coaches that I have hired, including myself.”
The Mustangs enter Kyle Field in a similar fashion to Alabama — off a bye week — and a close 31-30 victory over Montana State two weeks ago. Sumlin and A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder expect to see new formations and schemes designed to confuse the young Aggie unit.
“We’ll see some new stuff,” Sumlin said. “We’re playing at home, not complaining about that. It’ll be a new challenge for our defense because we’ll see some new stuff and we’ll have to defend the field sideline-to-sideline and vertically because they’ll try to space us out.”
As for the A&M offense, which gained 628 yards for 42 points against Alabama — a record high against the Crimson Tide — Manziel and company will be back at full strength with true freshman wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones and sophomore running back Trey Williams returning to full capacity after limited time against Alabama.
Running back Ben Malena said the Aggies anticipate a ball-hawking Mustang defense with a focus on creating turnovers, a factor the senior said A&M must eliminate throughout the matchup.
“They play ball very well,” Malena said. “One thing they do is have all 11 guys … run to the ball. They force turnovers, they have really good linebacker play and they come downhill.”