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Texas A&M football presser hones in on Bulldogs

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 02:10

The No. 22 Aggies did just enough Saturday to pull out a 30-27 win in Oxford, Miss., against Ole Miss and climb into the Top-25 rankings for the first time this season. During Tuesday’s press conference, head coach Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies said while the win was worth celebrating, they’ll have to do more in this weekend’s road date against No. 23 Louisiana Tech.

Sumlin said situations like Saturday’s — when the Aggies managed a win in spite of six surrendered turnovers — help a team along the process of making the leap to the next level.

“All kinds of situations presented themselves telling you that you should lose,” Sumlin said. “Our guys had to deal with those and then win the football game. You have to get some bounces and some calls, but what it does is creates confidence in each other. From that standpoint it gives team confidence that we do have enough talent, we do have the type of team that can win a game at any time no matter the situation.”

Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel entered the Ole Miss game turnover-free on the season. That changed in a hurry, and Manziel accounted for half of the team’s six giveaways. Senior offensive lineman Patrick Lewis said he was impressed with how Manziel responded.

“You could tell Johnny was shaken a little bit,” Lewis said. “But he’s real poised beyond his years. He did a great job recollecting himself and gathering us as an offense.”

The worst-kept secret in college football over the last year has been A&M’s seeming inability to close games late. Junior defensive lineman Damontre Moore said Saturday’s win over Ole Miss was indicative of the program’s new attitude.

“Winning a close game is an overwhelming experience,” Moore said. “It helps us build confidence in ourselves and realize that we’re a different team than last year. To see us break that habit this year shows that this is a new year and we’re doing new things.”

A&M prepared for Louisiana Tech already this season — in week one — for what would have been the team’s season opener. However, adverse weather conditions forced a postponement of the contest until Oct. 13, a date in which both teams previously had a week off. Sumlin said the 5-0 undefeated Louisiana Tech team of today is better than the one his team prepared for.

“I’m not surprised by them being ranked,” Sumlin said. “They won’t be intimidated by us one bit and they shouldn’t be. They’re probably ranked a little bit low. For our team to come in and play a top-25 team, we’re excited about that.”

The Aggies will be without a brace of rotation players Saturday. Junior starting linebacker Steven Jenkins and sophomore backup safety Howard Matthews were originally suspended for the Louisiana Tech game due to violation of team policy, and the suspension will hold despite the game’s postponement. Junior backup offensive lineman, Shep Klinke, will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on a broken bone in his foot.

Senior linebacker Jonathan Stewart said the team couldn’t allow the absence of a few players to affect
the game.

“Other guys have to step up,” Stewart said. “Can’t think about them not being there. Other guys have to show what they can do and why they’re at Texas A&M.”

Sumlin said emotional preparedness would be crucial for moving forward.

“Emotion is a big part of what we do, and energy, particularly in the venues we play in and are going to play,” Sumlin said. “You can’t just show up. In order to be real good player[s] and [a] real good team you have to prepare yourself emotionally.”

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