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Texas A&M football coach talks about playing UTEP on Saturday

Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:55:53 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 06:32:23 PM CST

Texas A&M Athletics

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel

Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin and members of the Texas A&M football team and staff met with the media on Tuesday in the Bright Complex to talk about the Aggies' upcoming game against UTEP. The game will be televised on ESPN2

Audio in mp3 format and selected quotes will be available below.

Download audio of Tuesday's press conference here:

 

HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN

On the defense…
“We were able to play a lot of different people. That’s always a good thing. It’s a better thing when those guys play well. The rotation up front kept us fresh and it gave us a little more energy than we’ve had in the past. Everybody is a little reluctant with putting freshmen in the game. One time I looked out there and just about everyone out there was a freshman in the front seven except Donnie Baggs. We played him in some heavy situations. Darian (Claiborne) has been out there for significant snaps. Noel Ellis, I thought, really did a nice job for us. Daeshon Hall and Hardreck Walker also did a good job. We were rotating guys in and out. I think at this point, for them to have some success is important. We’re better. We’re not great by any means, but we’re better. Hopefully some success by the young guys and some success by the defense will make us better. We’ll continue to get better and gain some confidence from that moving forward. We gave up the onside kick that put our defense in a bad situation. Vanderbilt was a team that scored at least 25 points in every game. We should’ve gotten the onside kick there and not given them the short field. If you’re up 17 or 18 points, you’ve got to feel good about it.”

On playing a non-conference game this late in the season…
“There aren’t many particular challenges with that. Really mature teams understand that their level of play is what is expected of them. It doesn’t matter who you are playing or what you have at stake. We’re pretty open with our team. We’re 6-2. We’re bowl eligible. Right now, we’re playing for a better situation in the postseason, whatever those are. You need to be motivated to play. That usually motivates guys a lot. There’s a little bit of a cure out there for them because of that.”

On Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans being named Maxwell Award Semifinalist…
“I think that’s important. I think that’s significant. I’m also puzzled why people aren’t talking about Mike Evans in the Heisman race. I think he’s as good of a player as anyone in the country. People ask if you can have two guys that can do that. I was on a team at Oklahoma that had Jason White and Adrian Peterson go to New York. Those two guys have been making plays for us all year. I don’t anticipate that changing. He’s second in the country in yards-per-game and everyone knows we’re going to throw him the ball. He continues to play at an extremely high level. I’m not surprised they were named for the Maxwell Award, but I’m more surprised there hasn’t been any Heisman talk about Mike.”

On scheduling of non-conference games…
“Unfortunately you can’t just call someone up and ask if they want to play. Some people think that’s how it works. The real challenge comes with everyone changing leagues. We’re in a situation right now where we don’t have the conference schedule for 2015 and whether it’s going to be eight or nine games. There are contracts involved and a game you thought would be good in 2007 may not be and a game you thought would be an easy game may not be that easier game may not be. Scheduling is always complicated and it’s more complicated right now for us because of the change of leagues. These last two years we’ve had to scramble to get people scheduled with all the changes in leagues. I look for that to settle down a little bit. There were a very limited number of people that were available to play over the past two years. You saw that happen with us and Missouri as well as some of the teams from the Big 12 that were scrambling trying to play the same folks. When you’re scrambling to play some people, all of a sudden the price goes up. There are a lot of things involved, but we try to get as quality of an opponent as we can get. I think the thing that’s different about the SEC is playing non-conference opponents late in the year. It’s a little bit different than what we’re used to where your non-conference opponents are early in the year and then you settle into league play. This league has been like that for years and I don’t know if that’s going to change.”

On UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers…
“He was in a tough situation. You guys said he was going to start. I never said that. That put an extra burden on him. He knew where he was internally. It was still a quarterback competition. He went through the year as the backup and he communicated with me that he was graduating and wanted to transfer. Our standard policy is different than a lot of others. We don’t allow transfers to anyone in conference or on the schedule. I think that’s fair. If you put in three years of development academically and athletically, the money that is spent to help that young man, you don’t want to face him after putting in all that work to develop him. That’s how I think of it. In this situation, it’s different as a quarterback. There are only so many schools that want you and need immediate help at that position. I met with he and his dad and he talked about UTEP. Because of the quality kid that he is and the extenuating circumstance and the amount of time he had left to play, I said it was ok. When he was here, I thought he represented the team, this school and his family well. It’s just unfortunate that he got caught behind the best player in the country.”

On UTEP…
“They’re a team that has come into the league with a new coach. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s been an outstanding position coach at a few places. He wanted to come in and establish a certain style of play. It was a complete change of personnel from the way they were so there is a transitional period there. I see a team that’s working very hard and has a lot of pride. This time of year, we’ve got to be on our A-game. Whenever we’re on national TV, people always seem to get excited to play. This time of year, it’s more about you than who you are playing. We challenged some guys a week ago who hadn’t been at the forefront because of injuries to play better and give them some significant minutes. The biggest storyline nobody’s talking about is how well our offensive line played despite completely shuffling everything around and for us to operate the way we did. I’m surprised nobody’s talking about that.”

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MARK SNYDER

On Gavin Stansbury…
“He works hard at practice. We’ve seen it coming based on the way he practices. He played extremely well on Saturday. That was far and away his best game. He was productive. He was active. He did a lot of good things.”

On Stephen Jenkins…
“It was good to have Stephen Jenkins back. We challenged him. I told him I was going to call his number, but it was time for him to start making plays and he did that for us.”

On improvement in the secondary…
“We need to stay healthy and keep the young defensive backs coming along and learning. There is a degree of difficulty in what we do on the backend. Having all those guys in place really helped a lot.”

On Nate Askew…
“Nate made some good plays. He’s starting to get comfortable on our side of the ball. There were a couple spots where he made some smart decisions. He’s becoming more and more comfortable with what we are doing. Obviously, he should catch those interceptions. He used to play receiver. It’s the other stuff we need to keep coming. I think Nate’s gaining some confidence.”

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CLARENCE MCKINNEY

On the offensive line play after changing the lineup…
“Jarvis had such late notice without much practice at left tackle. I thought he played really well. Gramling has been working with the No. 2’s at left guard. He’s always been our first guy we go to on the inside after Ben Compton. We feel confident with Gramling being out there in the game. I thought he came in and played really well.”

On Mike Evans…
“When you look at the numbers, you can’t argue about the season he’s having. He’s having the best season you could ask a receiver to have. He’s definitely one of the best players in the country. The Heisman trophy is supposed to go to the best player so he should definitely be in that conversation.”

On LaQuvionte Gonzalez…
“Quiv is really coming along. He’s learned the offense. He gives us a speed element that we don’t have from some other guys. These past few weeks, you guys haven’t seen it because he hasn’t touched the ball, but he’s been improving each week. He’s earned the right to play now. He got his first touchdown the other day and we’re looking forward to giving him an expanded role.”

On the four running backs…
“Any one of those guys could be a starter on any team. They’re all different from a talent standpoint. They compete. They all want to be the guy that’s out there running the ball. We saw some good things from all four of them this weekend. We did have a couple of fumbles which we haven’t had all year. Those guys are very competitive. They want to be out on the field. It makes for good competition with all the things we ask our running backs to do.”

Source: Texas A&M

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