During his talk to the Touchdown Club of Houston on Wednesday, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin got pretty fired up.
Tested by a series of negative events since the end of the 2015 season, Sumlin, typically mild-mannered and laid-back, showed some emotion when talking about the 2016 season. Apparently he can’t wait to kick off a season that will include his name near the top of all those “Coaches on the hot seat” lists.
That first game comes Sept. 3 at Kyle Field against UCLA, the former team of first-year Aggies offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. Then the Aggies play four of their next five games against SEC opponents. It’s not a schedule for the faint of heart.
And Sumlin showed Wednesday that his blood is running hot, eager to get past the recent events that have shed a negative light on the program, particularly the unfortunate Twitter rant from wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead following five-star quarterback prospect Tate Martell renouncing his commitment.
After the rant, the Aggies then lost the commitment of a four-star wide receiver.
Off-field distractions, however, shouldn’t interfere with the talent A&M brings to the field. With the addition of Mazzone and offensive line coach Jim Turner, Sumlin believes an offense with Oklahoma transfer quarterback Trevor Knight will return to its high-scoring ways.
And a defense led by possible No. 1 overall 2017 draft pick Myles Garrett at defensive end, and under the direction of second-year defensive coordinator John Chavis, will be a physical and disruptive unit that should give A&M a chance to contend in the mighty SEC West division.
“Talent-wise, we’re going to stack up with anybody,” Sumlin said. “And we’ve got some guys who are hungry, with something to prove.”
The 2016 season can’t get here soon enough.