Sumlin: Much Respect For The Razorbacks

Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin made it clear on Wednesday's SEC Teleconference that he has plenty of respect for a revived Arkansas program heading into Saturday's Southwest Classic in Arlington, Texas.

Texas A&M and Arkansas have rolled up seven of the eight foes they have combined to play this season, but both expect to know far more about themselves by Saturday night.

The No. 7 Aggies (4-0, 1-0) and unranked Razorbacks (3-1, 0-1) will meet in the resumption of the Southwest Classic Saturday at 2:30 p.m inside the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in a game that will be nationally televised by CBS.

“It is going to be a real challenge,” Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “I said last week that we will figure out where we are and a little bit more about our team, know a lot more about our team by Saturday night because they are going to challenge us as they are going to challenge every team. They are very, very good with what they do. They have two great running backs and the biggest offensive line in the country and they want to impose their will. That is their philosophy and they are excellent at it.

“We have got to a rotation philosophy and I think the thing that has helped us is that our talent level has increased, our maturity level has increased and the depth has increased,” Sumlin said. “I don't know now if we are there yet or not, we are going to find out Saturday because we are going to need all those guys to play and play at a very, very high physical level for us to be successful and win this game.”

Sumlin sees a better Arkansas team than the one his squad beat 45-33 last season in Fayetteville and says that has a lot to do with the improvement in Razorback quarterback Brandon Allen.

“I think their players understand the scheme a lot more, which is natural,” Sumlin said. “I think one of the biggest factors that I see has been Brandon Allen. I think he's been extremely efficient throwing the football. When people have tried to load up and put the ninth, 10th and sometimes on tape the 11th guy involved at the line of scrimmage, I think Brandon Allen has been extremely accurate, has hit the deep ball.

“He hasn't thrown a lot, but he's got eight touchdowns and is completing 61 percent and he's only got one pick, so they're big plays,” Sumlin added. “(Wideout) Keon Hatcher is almost 20 yards a catch and that tells you those are chunks of yards. To score that many points, yeah, they're running the ball extremely effectively, but they're also creating some one on ones in the back end and I think Brandon Allen has been accurate and has taken advantage of those types of things.

“That's another challenge for us to not only limit their run game, because I don't think anybody's just going to stop them,” Sumlin continued. “But to limit the run game and then really challenge big plays that come off of loaded boxes and play action.”

The Aggies opened the season with a 52-28 win at South Carolina and have since rolled three over-matched foes in Lamar (73-7), Rice (38-10) and SMU – a 58-6 win in Dallas last weekend.

“I think last week was a good experience for a lot of players in our program that you travel to Dallas and have the same game time this week, which is 2:30, which gives us duplication in prep for this week,” Sumlin said. “Obviously in different venues, but same practice schedule, same travel times and game times, just different places to play. We were able to play a lot of younger players, getting in the game, with very little if any extra added injuries.”

CBS sportscaster Spencer Tillman asked Sumlin if he got any extra pleasure in playing a contrasting style of team.

“Not really,” Sumlin said. “Basically with what we do is probably different than most people even though everybody wants to put all spread offenses into one boat. That is not necessarily the truth. You have spread offenses that lead with the run that are misdirection type offenses. All kinds of different things. Certainly no huddle may be the contrasting factor, but that is kind of what we do. I don't know that we take any kind of special pride or change things when we play other teams because we are probably not traditional and most people that we play are.

“More than anything else, this is a game where you've got two really contrasting styles, two teams that really kind of believe in what they do and have been successful in those styles,” Sumlin added. “We have a lot of respect for the way Bret Bielema has done things not only at Arkansas, but at Wisconsin and I'm not surprised they are humming along the way they are.

“So to answer your question, we don't take anything extra or do anything different in situations like this because most of the games we are playing now – or have played in the SEC – is this type of football game.”

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