AUBURN, Ala. — Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin took part in the Southeastern Conference coaches’ teleconference on Wednesday.
Here’s what Sumlin had to say during his call with reporters, which a little more than 10 minutes:
"We're coming off a win off a much-needed bye week, and winning a night game on the road in the division was a big step for us. It was another week for us to gain more confidence as a team. We had some individual players that stepped up in those situations that hadn't been in that role and (they) had some success. I think that generated some enthusiasm. ... leaving that weekend and into this week, which we're going to need. Happy to be back home this weekend and facing a very hot Auburn team that's playing with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence. I think it's going to be a heck of a ballgame this weekend."
On what has impressed him the most about Auburn's turnaround this season:
"I just think they're playing with a lot of energy. Coach (Gus) Malzahn and the new coaching staff have brought a lot of energy to the program and a winning attitude. Schematically, they've changed across the board. (They have) a lot of veteran coaches that have been in big-time situations. Obviously, Gus has a tremendous background offensively and has had tremendous success wherever he's been, either as a coordinator or as a head coach. And Ellis Johnson is a veteran defensive coordinator. They have assembled a staff that understands this league, understands preparation, and you can see it. They're well-coached and they know what they're doing in all three phases and have their guys executing at a high level and playing with confidence. So it's across the board. It's not one thing."
On whether he looked at film of Texas A&M's 63-21 victory over Auburn last season to prepare for this week:
On whether Auburn having played multiple quarterbacks this season has added another challenge to contend with:
"Gus has a proven track record of being able to move the football with many different guys at different institutions at different levels. I know that he's confident in his system and the way he does things, as are we. With that confidence in the system and the coaching staff, I think the players gain that confidence, too, and you can see that with whoever is under center and how they play. So our preparation is you pay particular attention more so to schematics than to the individual player, although just like any game, (some) individual players do some things better than others. So the main thing is paying particular attention to the overall scheme, which they do a great job with whoever is under center. "
On how Johnny Manziel's game seems to rise when he's playing in pressure situations:
"I think that's kind of been his M.O. Really, really top-notch players, that's been their M.O. — you know, the bigger the situation, the more they're able to handle it. And I said this last year: No stage has been too big for him, and he's picked up where he was last year and continued down that path. I think he enjoys playing the game no matter what, and being in the league that we're in, every stage becomes big. The more you win, the more important every game gets. So they tell you the next week, 'This is a big one.' That's part of it. That's part of winning, that's part of being in a national spotlight. He understands that, obviously, and embraces that. I think he kind of feeds off that."
On the Tigers' three-headed rushing attack:
"They do a fantastic job. They lead the league in rushing. There's a reason for that. They all have different strengths, but their scheme asks them to play to their strengths. What they do has been well-stated by them: It starts with their running attack and getting that going. So leading the league in rushing is not a fluke for them. They take pride in it, they work at it and they've been extremely successful at it."
On Manziel's sacks and turnovers this season normally coming in opponent's territory:
"I don't know that that's a coincidence. I don't know that there's a reason for that. I know that he's been given more leeway. We've obviously added more offense for him to be able to handle the many different things that were thrown at him. He was a much different quarterback the second half of the season last year than he was at the beginning of the year. That's due to his understanding of the offense — us understanding him and giving him some more things — but this year him understanding defenses a little bit more, understanding our scheme a little bit more and having some more options at the line of scrimmage that he didn't have at the beginning of the year. So it's not one factor. It's a combination of a lot of different things that I think have increased his role as an overall quarterback."
On whether there has been a time during a game when he was amazed by a play Manziel made:
"Y'all get to see him on Saturday. We get to see him every day. So we see things that happen at practice regularly that people only get to see once or twice a game. So for us, it's a little bit different. I'm not saying that you ever get used to it, but you come to expect it. I'll just say this: That doesn't just happen on Saturday night or Saturday afternoon. It happens on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, too. So we get a little bit used to it. We're a little spoiled by it, but we never get tired of it."
On whether Manziel's improvisational ability makes it easier for a play-caller:
"I would think that would be the case."