Texas A&M football team looks to SMU
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 01:09
In a matchup many writers, analysts and fans equaled as one of the program’s most colossal in its storied history, the Aggies, run by former University of Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin, fell to the Florida Gators 20-17. The players and coaches rehashed Saturday’s events at a press conference Tuesday while looking ahead to the SMU Mustangs.
Following the Aggies’ reminiscent second-half offensive collapse, the team said they remained optimistic in their new leader, redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel.
“I think he did a great job,” senior offensive tackle Luke Joeckel said. “He’s a very confident guy. He’s a tough guy. He’s always trying to make plays and he’s going to do that for us this year.”
Manziel, who stepped onto the college stage for the first time against a powerful Florida squad, was able to impress over the course of the game. He would rack up 78 rush yards and a touchdown on 17 carries along with 173 yards on 23-for-30 passing.
Sumlin, a revolutionary in offensive prowess, said he felt positive about his quarterback’s play.
“I thought Johnny, for a first-start redshirt freshman, starting against a team like Florida, a defensive team like Florida, performed well,” Sumlin said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement. From that standpoint, though, I think our team sees, and knows, that ‘we can play better than that.’ That, to me, is exciting.”
Additionally, Manziel seemed to solve one of the Aggies’ long-time plagues: turnovers. In 2011, A&M effectively killed drives by coughing up the football 24 times, 15 of which were interceptions.
On Saturday, the redshirt freshman allowed zero turnovers, a fact not overlooked by offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury.
“For him to not turn the ball over in his first start against that defense, it gave us a chance to win the game,” Kingsbury said. “Until the bullets are flying like that, you can coach all you want. Until you can really show them how it’s going to happen, it doesn’t really sink in.”
As Texas A&M’s football team enters their second matchup of the season this weekend at SMU, the Aggies said they are confident that the experience garnered from the Florida loss will be invaluable for their future success.
“I think having a game under our belt will do [a lot] of good for us,” senior wide receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu said. “[As seniors], we try to share to the young guys our frustration and our sense of urgency. We want to go out the right way.”