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Monday, December 31st, 2012

Texas A&M Aggies Defensive News Conference (Transcripts)

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MARK SYNDER

On Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones: “He is very (Alabama quarterback) A.J. McCarron like when I watch the film. He doesn’t get rattled. He is never out of the game. That is what comes through (from the film) to me. There is nothing he hasn’t seen. It seems like he has been there forever. He has seen it all which always concerns us. That is not always the case going into some games you can we might be able to do this to this quarterback, this quarterback hasn’t seen this, throw this up out of a bag of trips but he has seen it all. He goes through his reads. He runs the offense extremely well. He runs it. He manages it. He gives him a chance to win.”

On what the SEC did for Texas A&M as a program: “I think it validated A&M I think, the branding of it to be honest with you. It was a lot like Oklahoma did years back when Bob (Stoops) got there. They started branding again. Same thing Urban (Meyer) did at Florida. Florida became a brand name and was able to go out nationally and recruit. I think those things are happening for us.”

On impression of SEC football after this season: “It’s real. It’s real. The size and speed is amazing on the field. It is played at a different speed, especially on defense. When I have a chance to watch our offense go against some of these defenses, there are some big cats that can run, defensive backs that are long, linebackers that are big. It is real, especially the top half of the SEC.”

On whether he has told defensive line they have advantage over Oklahoma offensive line: “No. We have been the underdog in every game. We have no D-line. I have been told that for 12 weeks now about six months now. We are going to just go do what we do. We are a scrappy bunch. We are going to just go be scrappy, we aren’t better than anybody.”

On defensive end Damontre Moore’s decision to enter the NFL Draft: “I think he has worked extremely hard and bought in. He is a standup guy. When we got here, we felt like he as a defensive end. We told him if he trusted us and worked hard, good things were going to happen for him, and they did. You are as good as your works deserve. If he continues to do what he has done for us he will be fine.”

On keys to game: “We have to stop the run. We have to try and pressure this guy, because he is good even under pressure. “

On Oklahoma wide receivers: “This is the best group we have faced. As a group this is the best group of receivers we have faced this year as a whole. It is a heck of a challenge. It (the height advantage of Oklahoma wide receivers) could be an issue, there is no doubt. Jalen Summers isn’t very long, but he is quick. He is pretty good.”

DE DAMONTRE MOORE

On making final decision to enter the NFL Draft: “It’s a good feeling to get it out of the way. It is one less thing so now I can truly focus on beating OU. It really hasn’t set in yet, it is still surreal this is an opportunity that I am privileged to be part of.”

On whether mindset is different knowing this is last game at Texas A&M: “Not really. Because the mindset I went in with every year, was play this game like it is your last game and leave everything out on the field. If anything, it might give me a little edge knowing it will be the last game I play in a Texas A&M uniform.”

On how Johnny Manziel has handled all the attention as a freshman: “He has handled it very well. I can honestly say if I was a freshman and had the success he did, I wouldn’t be able to handle it (as well). He has a great supporting staff behind him, the coaching staff. When I was a freshman, I had a little early success and I had everyone on me to make sure I was doing the right thing. We are all brothers and we are going to help each other out.”

On will game feel differently as last game at A&M: “Throughout the game, no. After the game, probably yes and maybe even a little bit before. During the game, I try to play every game like it is my last game. I always think about how do I want to be remembered? How do I set my legacy? So in that aspect, before the game this is the last time I will walk into the locker room, this is the last time I get to see the equipment guys and joke around with them. This is the last time I get to joke around with Dave (Weir) and Karl (Kapchinski) the (athletic) trainers before the game and after the game I get to be with all the guys. This will be the last time this team is going to be together. There won’t be another team like this. There will probably be some water works. I’ve been trying not to think about it and put it off as long as possible.”

DT SPENCER NEALY

On playing Oklahoma: “Playing an old conference team who I guess is considered a little bit of a rival is real exciting. Especially with this season, the first year in the SEC it brings a little bit more excitement and emotion to it. No one in the Big 12 was happy when we left and how funny is it that we are playing a Big 12 team in our first bowl game out of it. It is going to be exciting. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait.”

On Oklahoma playmakers: “They have too many playmakers. It is unfair. We are focused on everybody. Of course, Blake Bell, they have that play. They got us last year on that. We have been working on that to really stop that. We plan on going out that and doing that.”

On what win in Cotton Bowl would win: “It would be huge. There have been very few 11 win teams in A&M history. Coach (Kevin) Sumlin pointed that out when we had 10 wins and that really motivated us. 11-2 sounds way better than 10-3.”

On primary difference between this year and last year: “I definitely feel as a team we are a lot closer. I feel like we could go out there and if a car was running at me, someone would jump in front of it. We are all playing for each other. We really care. I have said it multiple times we like being up at Bright (Football Complex) just kicking it. Kind of sounds like a loser. That is definitely a huge difference. Playing with emotion is always going to carry you where you want to go.”

On how team played 12 straight weeks and maintained level of play without a bye week: “It is kind of crazy, we haven’t had many injuries. I think it was almost for me personally my body was in denial because right when we got that week off, my lower back started cracking and I said ‘this isn’t right.’ That 12 weeks, I think it was just in shut down mode or at least I wasn’t noticing it. But we have gotten a lot of rest.”

LB SEAN PORTER

On importance of generating a pass rush: “I wouldn’t say a greater urgency all year because we had a great pass rush on (Alabama’s quarterback) A.J. McCarron with that big ole offensive line. I would say it is always at the top of our priority list especially on third down we have to get off the field. As long as we play good defense and get off the field on third down we will do good against these guys.”

On with a win being mentioned with some of the best Texas A&M teams ever: “That would mean a lot to me, especially as a senior. Growing up with these guys and going through all these growing pains we have had for the past few years it would mean a lot for us to be mentioned in that same way. It is really important to me to get this 11th win.”

On whether when he was upset in locker room after the Florida game whether he could envision a potential 11-win season: “I think I could because the reason I was upset is I realized all the potential we had in two-a-days. I knew that we were better than most teams in the country. So it upset me that we didn’t live up to our potential that game. We didn’t play as good as we could have played. But looking back it, we were still a young team and had a quarterback that didn’t have the entire offense in his repertoire yet. I’m glad it ended up the way it did.” 

On looking back on his decision to come back and play senior year at Texas A&M: “I am pleased. I came back because I love to be a part of this team and be around these guys. I love this great university. My reasons for coming back to college was not to raise my draft stock or anything, I like college. I like college life. I think it was fun. It was definitely a good thing for our team. It has been a good ride.”

LB JONATHAN STEWART

On Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones: “Landry Jones is a very good quarterback. He has started 50 games in a row so he has probably seen everything in the book. It will be for us on defense to disguise and get try to confuse them so our defensive line can have a lot of success. If our defensive line is able to dominate their offensive line, then we should be able to have a lot of success. We especially need to make Landry (Jones) uncomfortable in the pocket and move him off of his spots and just little things like that.”

On defensive identity and development from first game to now: “We are playing a lot better as a defense. We didn’t really know (at the beginning of the year) what we were or where we sat, and then as the season got going we started to understand that, OK, if the offensive line is lined up in this set then we don’t want to be in this set. We need to probably check out of that. We would go to where we could have more success. We really better understand the intricacies of the defense.”

On what win in Cotton Bowl would mean: “It would be great. Coach (Kevin) Sumlin that have been 11 teams in A&M history that have won 11 games. It would put us in elite territory. That is our goal. That is what we want to do. We aren’t focused on as a senior class what is going on after the bowl game, we are all focused on making sure we get this win on Friday and we can go out the right way.”  

FS STEVEN TERRELL

On Oklahoma wide receivers: “They are the best receiving corps we have played. All four positions have playmakers. They have Jalen Saunders in the middle and Kenny Stills and some others. When you play a team like this, you just have to be fundamentally sound and not give up the big plays. We really have to focus on our technique and make sure we have good eyes and not have any coverage busts and not give up any easy touchdowns. We just really need to be fundamentally sound.”  

On whether it requires extra preparation for Oklahoma’s Blake Bell red zone package: “Absolutely. You have to spend extra time for the Blake Bell package. It is a great short yardage and goal line package. Not many teams have had success stopping it. So when you have multiple packages like that, you have to put in a lot of work and watch film. Our biggest thing this week is that we have a true pocket passer like Landry Jones. We have to get pressure on him. We have to force him to make off-balance throws that he is not comfortable with. We have to force turnovers this game. That will be big for us. I think the defense that plays the best will have the success in this game.”

On playing a familiar opponent after a year of firsts for program: “All year we played teams we really haven’t played before, usually that is what the bowl game is. The bowl game is usually a team you haven’t played. I think it is nice to come back and play OU again, a team that we have been playing forever, it seems like. I like it. I personally think it is a good thing to play them again and have some film of them working against our defense. I think it is an advantage for both teams to play a team that you have played before.”

On what a strong defensive performance in the Cotton Bowl would mean: “It would be great to have a good performance. OU has a very powerful offense. They are a great offense. This game will be very big and good for us going against a quarterback like Landry Jones.”

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