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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Sumlin talks football, Chavis at SEC Media days

Kevin Sumlin

Kevin Sumlin

In Hoover, Alabama this week, SEC Media days were held, which is the unofficial start of college football season. Tuesday, the Aggies and Kevin Sumlin spoke about the upcoming year and the changes surrounding the program.

The Aggie football coaching staff is undergoing a shift. After parting ways with Mark Snyder at the end of the season, A&M hired LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis in a move that had its fair share of drama.

Defense has been the Achilles heel of the Aggies since joining the SEC. In 2014, A&M ranked 102nd in total defense, allowing 450 yards per contest, and 5.91 yards per play. The Aggies ranked 80th when defending the pass, and 109th against the run, allowing 216 rushing yards per game.

In comparison, Chavis’ defense at LSU ranked 9th overall in total defense, and surrendered an average of 316 yards of total offense per game. They were 3rd in the nation in passing yards allowed per game, giving up only 164 yards per game through the air, and were ranked 46th nationally against the run. Not only were his defenses statistically better, but they also shut down the prolific Aggie offense every year since the arrival into the SEC, holding them to under 20 points in three contests, all Aggie loses.

The hiring of the experienced Chavis immediately adds fire to a struggling defense. At Tuesday’s media days, Sumlin said Chavis’ experience in the SEC is invaluable to the team.

“We’ve studied the defense. We get it. We struggled. It’s a great fit for us and a great fit for him,”  Sumlin said. “He was ready for a new challenge. We were in the market, obviously, and here’s a guy who’s got a tremendous track record in the SEC, and recently in the SEC West. So, his knowledge of opponents and his knowledge of the league helps me as a head coach, but it also helps our team and brings confidence right away to a defense that really needed it.”

The Chavis move came with a lot of drama and litigation. Chavis filed lawsuits against both A&M and LSU over his contract during his time with the Tigers. It was a move that just fueled the fire to the rivalry between the two.

“When I walk in the stadium, they don’t seem pretty happy about me walking in there in the first place,” Sumlin said. “I don’t know if it can get any more spicier than it is now.”

Anytime a new coordinator comes in, it is crucial that the players buy into the system as well as have fun playing in it. Chavis’ brand of defense is one of speed and flying to the football, and he had success at LSU with the size of the Tiger players. A&M has loads of defensive talent, but they are young, and it will take time for them to mold into the physical mold that Chavis had at LSU. The players thus far love their new roles, and the system has been bought into.

“You can tell why [LSU] played with so much swagger,” said senior defensive end Julien Obioha. “It starts with John Chavis.”

Sumlin said not only are the players comfortable, but Chavis has settled into the new job scene as well.

“The transition for he and his family have been great. The buy in, as I said, for our players has been exceptional,” Sumlin said. “Like I said, I’m as excited as any year that I’ve ever coached because I’ve got a lot of really, really good young talent that really went through a year unlike any other year I’ve been a part of.”
A&M ranked 12th in passing offense with 305 yards per game, and the amount of weapons they have can do damage at any moment. A&M was 26th in scoring with 35 points per game and scored 87 percent of the time they reached the red zone. The potential outcome of a Chavis defense and Sumlin offense could be something really scary.

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