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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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June 16, 2024

Sumlin: Don’t take Arkansas for granted

Under Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M has won three straight contests against Arkansas
Photo by By Wesley Davis

Under Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M has won three straight contests against Arkansas

The Texas A&M coaches’ focus was set on the SEC opener against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the weekly football news conference Tuesday.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin said last year’s Southwest Classic took a lot out of the football players, but moved the Aggies forward.
“They were a really, really good football team at the end of the year,” Sumlin said. “So, for us, this is the beginning of conference play and that’s the reality of it.”
The Aggies overcame the Razorbacks 35-28 in an overtime thriller in last season’s chapter of the match up, and in doing so solidified their national ranking as a top-10 team. However, the climactic victory was at the forefront of a mid-season collapse involving three straight losses, a stretch that has motivated Sumlin to reflect and reinvent the manner in which his team prepares for its schedule.
“I think anytime, as a coach, when you go through what we went through last year — to go five straight weeks and win, and then have the drop off that we had in the middle of the season, come back and win a couple of big ball games — my job is to assess where the program is all the time,” Sumlin said. “And I think we’ve gone out and done that and we’ll see how the results go, but I think our guys feel better, they feel fresher and we’ll see going forward.”
The establishment of reliable depth will be of considerable importance in helping A&M remain fresh throughout a daunting SEC schedule. In non-conference action, A&M allotted significant play time to backup players. Sumlin said those players served more than to just simply expose them to big time college football.
“The biggest step has been — particularly defensively — is for the ‘Qualen Cunninghams’ and the ‘Jarrett Johnsons’ to rotate with Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett,” Sumlin said. “And for us to have the confidence to put them in there on second down or first down and get those guys off the field. And for Zaycoven Henderson and Daylon Mack to rotate and get Alonzo [Williams] and Julien Obioha off the field in meaningful downs. To me, that’s more important than the wholesale substitution situation.” 

Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said he’s pressing his offense in advance of this week’s game to clean up turnover issues, execute on manageable third-down situations and assure long drives translate into touchdowns.    

“Every time we got to the red zone, we started doing some things that were kind of out of our nature,” Spavital said. “Which is great, it’s fixable, and we can talk through it on tape, but we’ve got to score touchdowns and not settle for field goals … We’ve got to finish is pretty much the motto that we’re going into this week.”

Allen connected on 18-for-31 passes for 270 yards and four touchdowns against Nevada on Saturday. Carson, who struggled in the season opener versus Arizona State rushing 29 times for only 96 yards, has since rushed 32 times for 196 yards against Ball State and Nevada.

A&M will look to clean things up against an Arkansas team dealing with a bit of adversity after dropping consecutive non-conference games, one to Toledo and the other to Texas Tech. 

Sumlin said his team would not be above the challenge of taking on an SEC opponent. Defensive coordinator John Chavis advanced this comment a step forward by re-affirming the SEC’s supremacy in college football.

“Obviously, when you get into SEC play, it’s the best league in the country,” Chavis said. “There’s no question about that. And from a talent standpoint, look at the NFL drafts through the years. I think that will show you that the better players are coming out of the SEC. It’s exciting, it’s a great opportunity to be in this conference, and I’m excited about my first conference game with Texas A&M.”

The Aggies and the Razorbacks kick off at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The game will be aired on ESPN. 

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  • Through their first three games, the Aggies rank No.25 in the nation in total offense under offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.

    Photo by By Wesley Holmes

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