No. 10 Texas A&M prepares to go on the road
After playing four straight home games to open the season, No. 10 Texas A&M gets back to SEC play this week with a trip to Arkansas.
The Aggies hope to continue their road dominance from last season when they were a perfect 7-0 away from College Station.
Texas A&M's road success last season was highlighted by its 29-24 win at top-ranked Alabama.
The Aggies beat Arkansas 58-10 last season in their first meeting as Southeastern Conference rivals after losing their previous three against the Razorbacks.
Coach Kevin Sumlin said there's no secret to his team playing well on the road. The Aggies keep things simple.
''It's what we do. We don't change our routine much,'' Sumlin said. ''Same routine we use at home we use on the road. Just like a lot of different things, you to try to keep it all the same.''
He tries to encourage his team to use the crowds on the road to its advantage.
''You try to create own energy,'' Sumlin said. ''As a competitor, the same type of enthusiasm and enjoyment you get from the home crowd from an electricity standpoint, you have to be able to utilize on road and I think our team does a good job of that.''
The Aggies got an easy 42-13 win over SMU on Saturday to rebound from last week's 49-42 loss to No. 1 Alabama. The defense had its best game of the season after struggling through the first three games while dealing with suspensions.
Texas A&M moved top cornerback Deshazor Everett to safety against the Mustangs and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder thinks the move helped improve his defense overall. Everett returned a fumble for a touchdown on Saturday.
''The great thing about Deshazor is this; whether he's at corner or safety, he's an eraser, a great football player and I appreciate him for that,'' Snyder said.
A&M's first-team defense held SMU to a pair of field goals before the Mustangs added a touchdown late against the backups. They hope the solid performance will build confidence as they head back into conference play.
''It feels great,'' Everett said. ''Everything was clicking. It was mostly due to better communication; having the same group in practice all week and translating it to the game, the game felt just like practice. It was easy to go out there and play fast and make plays.''
While the defensive improvement against SMU was encouraging, there were also some problems that the Aggies will have to clean up if they hope to fare well in SEC play.
Texas A&M had more than 100 yards of penalties on Saturday and missed three extra point attempts.
The Aggies are relying on some inexperienced players, but they know that youth is no excuse for penalties that hurt the team.
''You can say youth, because they are young, but (they are) dumb plays,'' offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi said. ''We just need to get it fixed for next week. I think we came out really well and with a lot of fire. I think that the penalties were just mental mistakes.''
Sumlin replaced kicker Taylor Bertolet with Josh Lambo on Saturday after he missed two PATs. Lambo missed one extra point on a bad hold. But Sumlin stuck with Lambo, who made an extra point and a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Sumlin said the pair will compete for the job moving forward.
''That's what our program is built on and you have to earn the right to step across that white line,'' he said. ''We evaluate guys every week no matter what the position, so there is going to be competition there.''