Sumlin, players preach preparations consistency
For A&M, Alabama just another conference game
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 00:09
Saturday’s matchup between Southeastern Conference rivals No. 6 Texas A&M and top-ranked Alabama has been under the watch of almost every college football fan around the nation.
ESPN’s Saturday morning pre-game show, College GameDay, will be hosted live from Simpson Drill Field outside the stadium. “The Rematch” — a nickname the game has earned recently — was selected by CBS, which is only allowed to pick one SEC game per week as its choice for live broadcast to a national audience.
Inside the Bright Complex Tuesday morning for the team’s weekly press conference, the A&M football program must have missed the memo.
Each player who took the podium delivered the same simple message — Alabama is just another game, and the team is going to treat it as such.
“As a player coming into a big week like this, you don’t want to blow it out of proportion,” said senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. “It’s just another game for us as we’re just starting out SEC conference play.”
Five upperclassmen up, five down and not a single mention that the Crimson Tide were any more special than Auburn, Vanderbilt or even Sam Houston State.
Junior cornerback Deshazor Everett, whose fourth-and-goal interception last season helped clinch A&M’s 29-24 victory over the top-ranked Tide, said it was key to maintain a routine each week when preparing for opponents.
“If you approach it like it’s the Super Bowl, you’re going to go out there and be nervous and do things you wouldn’t normally do,” Everett said. “We have to approach it like it’s another week, but you also have to go out there knowing you have to play football and you have to bring your ‘A’ game. It’s a big game, but we’re going to go out there and play hard and do what we do.”
The A&M coaching staff, led by head coach Kevin Sumlin, has preached the importance of consistency during practice regardless of the opponent.
Junior wide receiver Malcome Kennedy, who scored the winning touchdown for A&M in Tuscaloosa last season, said Sumlin remains the source of the stability within the program, particularly when
preparing for opponents throughout the season.
“[Sumlin] has this strong sense of urgency every week,” Kennedy said. “It pretty much goes down the chain of command to the staff and then it trickles down to us. He just wants us to stay calm and treat it like a normal game..”
Junior offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi said the game is no more important than the next, noting that if A&M were to defeat Alabama but lose down the line, the win would lose value.
“If we win this game and lose the next game, it doesn’t matter anymore,” Ogbuehi said. “This is the first [conference] game in the SEC, so that’s all we’re thinking about. We have to be 1-0 [in conference play] after this game. It’s the third game of the year, so there’s a lot more games left to play.”
In fact, the only player to acknowledge the game’s magnitude was senior running back Ben Malena, who said he expected Saturday’s atmosphere within Kyle Field to be unimaginable.
“I’m pretty sure [Kyle Field] will be, in the whole four years I’ve been here, an experience I’ve never seen,” Malena said.