SEC Football Media Days Report: Texas A&M

By Chandler Rome

The Daily Reveille, Louisiana State U. via UWIRE

HOOVER, Ala. – Kevin Sumlin knows what he signed up for.

Beginning his inaugural season at Texas A&M as the school transitions into the Southeastern Conference, the new head coach didn’t shy away from explaining his perception of his new surroundings.

“It’s a pretty damn hard league,” Sumlin said. “That’s my assessment.”

Leading off SEC Media Days on Tuesday, Sumlin acknowledged that the year may not be without bumps and bruises, but the challenges that lie ahead do not daunt him or the Aggies.

“Everyobdy talks to me and acts like I didn’t know what I was getting into when I took the job,” Sumlin said. “We understand the challenges ahead of us.”

Converting from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, having to replace first round draft pick Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, and youth on the defensive side may haunt the Aggies in year one, but Sumlin said the adjustments will pay dividends down the road.

Senior linebacker Sean Porter said that while the move to a 4-3 defense may be a different look for him, the defensive mindset never changes.

“We’ll get a bunch of guys to the quarterback and we’ll try to wreak havoc in the backfield,” Porter said.

Both Porter and junior offensive lineman Luke Joeckel said occasionally playing SEC teams throughout their career has prepared them mentally for the conference move and bolstered their confidence that their team can hang with the perennial powers.

Porter pointed to the 2011 Cotton Bowl – where the Aggies lost 41-24 to LSU – as a benchmark in his assessment of SEC play.

“I wasn’t overwhelmed at all [by LSU] and I was a young guy,” Porter said. “I think we’re coming in SEC ready. I don’t think it’ll be too much of a culture chock for us.”

Joeckel said while the Aggies have the “12th Man” and that Kyle Field has the best fans in the country, he’s eager to travel to the vaunted SEC stadiums he’s heard so much about.

“I’m excited about playing everywhere,” Joeckel said. “Playing in Alabama, Auburn, places like that, I’m sure the atmosphere will be crazy.”

All the chatter, the replacements and the scheme switching set aside, Sumlin reiterated the simple expectation he has for his program.

“My realistic expectations are to win,” Sumlin said. “I said that from day one.”

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