The head coach of the Aggies, Sumlin said he hasn't even watched last season's game in preparation for this week because of how different this Auburn team is under Gus Malzahn, both in scheme and attitude.
"I just think they're playing with a lot of energy," Sumlin said. "Coach Malzahn and the new coaching staff have brought a lot to the program. They are playing with discipline and a winning attitude. Schematically that have changed across the board. They've got a lot of veteran coaches that have been in big-time situations."
With a veteran coaching staff that has been in the battles in the SEC, Auburn has made strides on both offense and defense this season and that hasn't gone unnoticed by Sumlin. Getting ready for his second chance to take on the Tigers, he said he's expecting a much different test this time around.
"Obviously Gus has a tremendous background offensively and has had tremendous success wherever he's been either as a coordinator or as a head coach," Sumlin said. "Ellis Johnson is a veteran coordinator with a staff that understands this league and understands preparation. You can see it because they're well-coached. They know what they're doing in all three phases and have their guys executing at a high level and playing with confidence. It's across the board. It's not one thing."
While Texas A&M's offense will get much of the talk heading into Saturday's game, and rightly so, Auburn's offense can hold its own with anyone said Sumlin. Leading the SEC in rushing at 287 yards per game, the Tigers have three backs in Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant that can all get the job done. Throw in quarterback Nick Marshall and Sumlin said you can see the improvement in that area through the first six games and it starts with a mindset of being physical.
"They do a fantastic job," Sumlin said. "They lead the league in rushing and there's a reason for that. I think they all have different strengths, but their scheme asks them to play to their strengths. Leading the league in rushing is not a fluke for them. They take pride in it and they work at it. They've been extremely successful at it."
Currently one of the hottest teams in the country following road wins at Arkansas and Ole Miss, the Aggies still have a whole lot to play for despite a loss to Alabama earlier in the season. The same is true of Auburn. With the only loss coming at LSU, Sumlin said this is a team that is fired up about the season and because of that he's expecting a battle on Saturday at Kyle Field.