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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Sumlin: Kirk’s level of play is expected from all recruits

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Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser

Head coach Kevin Sumlin is 2-1 against Mississippi State under Texas A&M.

After pulling off a 28-21 overtime win over Arkansas on Saturday, the focus in the weekly press conference on Tuesday was about the underclassmen and their impact — mainly Christian Kirk.

A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said he expects Kirk’s level of play out of his players no matter how young they are.

“I always envision everyone we recruit doing that,” Sumlin said. “We would like for everyone we sign to be that way … Competition is our best friend … He’s playing well. When [Speedy Noil] gets back, he’s going to take a little bit off of [Kirk’s] plate … What I have found is that it is awful hard for a freshman to play at that level for a complete year… What we have to do is have these other guys step into these roles, and fortunately, we have guys that can do it.”

Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital also praised the young freshman wide receiver for his performance thus far.

“The kid has the home run talent,” Spavital said. “[Kirk] has the capability of hitting the home run shot, and always plays into our advantage … It is fun to watch. He’s very talented, very driven, and you will continue to see his role improve as well.”

The idea of déjà vu has circulated because A&M is in the same position this year as they were last year before they fell off the national map. Sumlin said this season is different.

“I don’t think this schedule is anything like last year … We were one of the few teams last year to go eight straight weeks without a bye … I think this season is completely different,” Sumlin said. “I do not draw any similarities to it. I think people are making a mistake trying to say wait and see. That’s fine. Let’s wait and see.” 

If anyone pointed out something to improve on from Saturday, it was the third down conversions and the red zone offense. 

A&M was 2-for-9 on third downs, and had issues converting in the red zone all night (two touchdowns in four trips to the red zone). Spavital recognized this and said the offense needs touchdowns, not field goals.

“We improved from last week … It’s mainly eliminating negative plays,” Spavital said. “We’ve always emphasized that once you enter the red zone, we always have to be moving forward and you have to have successful plays. If you look at the two times we did not score, we had some negative plays … We have a long way to go … but that is definitely an emphasis we need to preach every single week to these guys about finishing in the red zone.”

On the defensive side, A&M had key stops when it needed them. Defensive coordinator John Chavis said he was pleased with their will to win, but there is still room for improvement.

“We did not play as well as we are capable of playing … [Arkansas] was able to run the ball more efficiently than we thought,” Chavis said. “There were situations where we did not play very well and part of that had to do with planning.”

Sumlin said he had no comment on the status of runningback James White and linebacker Otaro Alaka.

Kickoff against Mississippi State is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Kyle Field on SEC Network.

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