Sumlin Meets with the Media

    Kevin Sumlin
    Kevin Sumlin
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    Sept. 6, 2011

    HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin

    On if the offensive line met his expectations...
    "You could see them coming together. I made the statement earlier in the week that what we lacked in experience we gained in size and strength. They played well together. We were pleased with how they operated. They weren't perfect, but we were able to pick up the twists a little bit better than maybe even a year ago with more experienced players. Our game plan helped but I also think coach B.J. Anderson has done a great job with three new starters and moving Chris Thompson to center. Chris got us targeted and made some good calls. We only had one delay of game, which for the first game is pretty good. We would like to eliminate that one. We were pleased with how they operated run and pass. They have to continue to improve because we're going to see different things every week. UCLA's front wasn't very exotic they were just big. They brought some different blitzes but we didn't see a lot of non-traditional things. So as we start to see some more exotic defenses we're going to have to get better every week."

    On the high ceiling of the offense...
    "As a team we have a very high ceiling. As we go through the season we have to be honest with each other and not become satisfied with just winning. Our coaches understand that but it's different for a player. As a player matures he begins to see a higher competition level with himself. The standard becomes not just winning but excelling as a player. Some of these guys have some aspirations to play at the next level and in order to do that you have to be a competitor and be hard on yourself. The bottom line is can we play better than last Saturday? Certainly."

    On Chris Thompson playing center...
    "First of all, the snaps were ok, so we've come a long way since the last week of spring ball and people thought he couldn't play center. That was a lot of hard work on his part. Going out every day and snapping who knows how many footballs. He's going to continue to get better. With him staying where he was there was concern about having a completely new right side. Having an experienced guy at center was more important. So far that has held up. I think he will continue to get better. I love being around him. He's always laughing and joking. I thought he was going to get a penalty after that touchdown because I didn't know what he was going to do. I didn't know if he was going to spike it. He tried to keep the ball. He's a beauty."

     

     

    On Michael Hayes' touchdown run...
    "We showed it on Monday for a great effort play. It was a fantastic run. There were some other things involved in that too. Obviously it was a great individual effort. He ran over the first guy and before he got to the second guy he was ready to go. The point we brought up to the team also was that E.J. Smith was six or seven yards downfield blocking a guy the whole time. He gets through with six or seven broken tackles and because another player was playing hard he was able to score. We told them it was a difference between a Jumbotron highlight and an ESPN highlight. That's what playing to the whistle creates. So there were a lot of efforts involved in that play, but for Mike it was a tremendous effort."

    On his evaluation of the defense...
    "We aren't where we need to be. There were some spots where we played pretty good but there were some spots where we weren't any good. We've got to continue to improve every week. We played a lot of different people. We played seven guys in the back and front in as well as probably seven linebackers. We will continue to get better but we've got to find some continuity in the backend. We had a substitution by package to match their personnel. The difference in the defense this year is we didn't have a lot of missed tackles. The game plan early was to eliminate the inside run game which we did very effectively. They made three or four big plays in the passing games. Do we need to get better? Heck yeah we need to get better, but as we play we're going to do that. I would be a lot more concerned if there were a lot of missed tackles and we got run all over."

    On quarterback Case Keenum's performance in his first game back...
    "I got a feel for what was going on during the game. I think our offensive staff did a great job giving our team a chance early. We got him in a rhythm by not asking him to do much down the field. It gave us a chance to establish a tempo with short throws and screens. All of the plays were quick throws to get him settled, show different formations and get our guys in a rhythm. I think that settled him early and created some confusion on the UCLA guys. I think he continued the good start that we got off to. He completed 70 percent with a couple of drops in there. I think he did a good job with ball security. He got in a hurry down around the goal line one time, but he walked off the field and said that was his fault. He operated extremely well and was very efficient. He moved around and created a couple plays. I didn't like him running as much as he did but he slid and ran out of bounds. He knows what he's doing."

    On his expectations of North Texas...
    "We're looking forward to it. There are a lot of similarities in our coaching staff and things that are going on. I've known Dan McCarney for a long time. He's been around and he knows what he's doing. We know a lot of those guys. They're going to be well coached and it's going to be a class act. Our guys are excited. It's an in-state game and they're opening up a brand new stadium. We have five or six guys from the Metroplex area that are starting or contributing who are looking forward to playing in that atmosphere. They'll be excited to play. There will be a lot of pride and electricity so it will be a fun game for us."

    On the uniforms Maryland wore last night...
    (Laughing) "I don't think we're going to be wearing anything like that."

    On having a fourth running back...
    "Braxton Welford has had great practices in the spring and in two-a-days. You'd like to get to a point where you have some guys where you can establish some depth, particularly at running back. It's a long season and the running backs take some shots. We've had numerous broken ribs and all sorts of things happen to our running backs. We have two guys in Braxton Wellford and Daniel Spencer who can help us out."

    SENIOR QUARTERBACK Case Keenum

    On running the ball...
    "I'm still learning when to get down and out of bounds. I pushed the envelope a couple of times. It is just part of my game. I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team win and if there are a few of those, then I'll do it. It's just making plays and playing football."

    On if there was any rust...
    "Tyron and I just picked up where we left off and it's like that with a lot of the guys. There were a few missed steps but the beauty of our offense is that I've thrown a lot of balls to a lot of different guys. They stepped up and made a lot of crucial plays for us this week."

    On beating UCLA...
    "It's a statement for us. We proved ourselves right. The only opinions that matter are the ones inside these walls that help us prepare for these teams."

    On Mike Hayes' run...
    "It was awesome. It was a heck of an effort. E. J. (Smith) was even blocking for Mike and if he hadn't blocked that last guy, Mike wouldn't have made it into the end zone."

    On focusing on North Texas...
    "We need to stay focused. We've talked about how this is a week-by-week deal. We have not set any of our goals we want to achieve this year. Any team in college football can go out and beat another college football team. We just need to go out and do us, make plays and take care of the football."

    On North Texas wanting to upset UH...
    "They have been looking forward to this game, just like we were looking forward to playing UCLA. We are going to get their best shot and we will give them ours. I'm confident it's going to be a good day."

    On the team buying into what he is saying about not taking things for granted...
    "I think so; a lot of guys have been around here for enough time and know you can't get wrapped up in the hype of things and you can't take what people are saying to heart. It's never as good as it seems and it's never as bad as it seems. We really just take care of our business and move forward."

    On his soreness from the game...
    "My neck was a little sore. It seems to get worse the day after but once I get a good sweat and lift in it gets better. I'm over it now. I always say when I get in the shower after the game all of that win-or-lose gets washed away. That game is down the drain and I'm looking forward to the next.

    On if last year's UCLA game flashed in his head once he started to run during Saturday's game...
    "Get what I could or get out was what was in my mind. Everything felt normal and everyone told me I looked normal. If it's there then I'm going to take it. Moving in the pocket is what any quarterback needs to do to avoid rushes. Our offensive line did a good job but there is room to improve. I could also improve by getting the ball out quicker. Mobility is a big part of playing quarterback."

    On possibly receiving national respect this season...
    "It is what it is. There is a lot of different opinions. We'd like to be there but all we can think about is our next game. We are doing what we need to do."

    SENIOR RUNNING BACK Bryce Beall

    On his expectations of the offensive line...
    "They gave us a lot of lanes to run through and they gave a lot of time for Case to throw the ball. They did a great job with three new starters. Them coming together so fast is really impressive."

    On Case running the ball...
    "If he holds back, that's how most people get injured. He just goes out there and plays like he can and I'm not worried about him running."

    On playing North Texas...
    "They are going to be a big game to us. At the beginning of the year they put us on the schedule and they are going to come out and play their best. We need to match their intensity and go out and play UH football."

    On Mike Hayes' run...
    "When he had the run, I felt it inside me and got really excited. That type of run is contagious and as soon as he made that run, it made Charles (Sims) and I want to run just as hard."

    SENIOR RUNNING BACK Michael Hayes

    On his outstanding run on which he broke several tackles...
    "I really like the open run policy, I think it opens it up for the running game."

    On his breaking run being the best run he's had...
    "It showed that I can run through people and I was just running I actually didn't know I hit that many people, they just bounced off of me."

    On how good he thinks this offense can be...
    "We can be really good as you said I feel that we left points out on the field but I feel that we have a lot of things we can fix to improve ourselves as a whole."

    On how it feels that the running game is going to be a big part of this team... "As running backs we feel that we have to be the best backfield in the nation and try to be ahead of the game."

    On his thoughts after watching his run...
    "I just don't think I give that much credit to one play, I think we need to give credit to the awesome job of our offensive line."

    On what kind of statement did this first victory send...
    "For us it was just a good win and to get game number one out of the way. We don't need to be sitting here saying we beat UCLA we need to focus on beating North Texas this week."

    SENIOR WIDE RECEIVER Justin Johnson

    On the size of UCLA...
    "We worked really hard in the offseason to address working harder and getting stronger. We got bigger along the fronts. We worked hard in offseason also as far as conditioning goes, worked to play an up-tempo style of game so I think it went well for us."

    On the size of UCLA receivers...
    "I looked out there and saw they had some big guys but we try to not worry about the size of our opponent and just worry about ourselves from week to week and what we can control and try to play our style of game."

    On continuing off of the success from this week... "It was a good win but we put that week behind us and focus on this week. We give this week's opponent as much attention as we gave last weeks. We just take it week by week and handle each game as it comes to us."

    On first win...
    "It felt really good to get the first win out of the way. Any time you can get a victory it's always fulfilling, especially that first one."

    On how it felt after this year's game vs. UCLA...
    "We really didn't stress too much or think about last year's game. We just tried to focus on this year and the game at hand. It was just the next game so that was motivation enough for us."

    On Case's adjustment to the passing rhythm of the offense...
    "I thought Case handled himself extremely well. He made good decisions out there, the offensive line gave him good time and the backs did a good job of picking up the blitz. They also ran well. I thought it was a great team effort and I think Case handled himself extremely well."

    On being nervous about Case getting hit...
    "Every time we saw Case take off we were all thinking slide, get down, get out of bounds or something. He's very valuable to us. Anytime he takes off we get nervous but we know he can handle it and that he'll make smart decisions."

    On Mike Hayes run...
    "Mike is like a bull out there so I knew he could do that."

    On how Michael Hayes reflected on coaches' "effort plays" to set the tone for the game...
    "Mike and all the running backs give great effort on every play. After I saw that I was like `let's go', it gave a little added motivation."

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