Texas A&M prepares for its long-awaited SEC debut with No. 23 Florida coming to College Station.
By ANTHONY ANDROFS Southwest
The same page.
That's what new Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin believes his team's on now with a fan base in College Station that's had Saturday's SEC opener circled on the calendar ever since the schedule was released.
That wasn't the case a week ago when the
Aggies had their scheduled season opener against Louisiana Tech postponed because of Hurricane Isaac.
It is now.
"After coming off a disappointing week before of really the storm canceling our opener, I thought our team after we met and let them know we weren't going to Shreveport, what we asked them to do is come in the next day and asked them to move on to Florida," said Sumlin in Wednesday's weekly SEC teleconference. "As disappointing as that situation was a week ago, they're coming in last Wednesday and watching the Florida video and really getting on the same page as our fans. Our fans have been in the mindset that they couldn't wait for the home opener."
Everyone will get their wish at Kyle Field Saturday. Whether or not the Aggies are ready for the No. 23-ranked Gators remains to be seen.
While Florida didn't look sharp in its 27-14 victory over Bowling Green last weekend, at least the Gators have a game under their belt before beginning SEC play.
The Aggies will be starting their first-ever freshman quarterback in a season opener in Johnny Manziel. He'll start with a new coaching staff watching him along with everyone in the country waiting to see how the Big 12 defectors will play in the nation's top conference.
That includes Sumlin.
"We're a new staff and haven't been around these guys in a real game situation," said Sumlin, whose Aggies are the lone SEC team not to play a game yet. "We tried to create that type of environment in practice with the loud music, the tempo, with all the stuff. There's no way to really duplicate game speed, which we've got to get adjusted to. Us being a new staff and not being around our guys in those pressure situations that's something that we're going to have to get a feel for as we get going."
While Florida coach Will Muschamp is glad his Gators have played a game, he'd like to have seen the Aggies play too. That would give them a better idea of the personnel the Aggies will use in Sumlin's system. Florida can look at tape from Sumlin's Houston teams, but the Cougars aren't the Aggies and Muschamp knows that.
"It's an advantage to go in there having played with some new players and a new QB (Jeff Driskel) for us, but there will be new wrinkles in what they do," Muschamp said. "They were really successful in Houston offensively. Will they tweak their scheme to their players? Certainly, they have a good coach and they do a good job. (Texas A&M offensive coordinator) Kliff (Kingsbury) does a great job with their offense and that offensive staff has been together and they will tweak to what they have but their base concepts will remain the same going into it."