No. 16 Texas A&M looking for offensive improvement
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) A few days after No. 16 Texas A&M beat Auburn 63-21, coach Kevin Sumlin wasn't patting himself on the back for a job well done.
He was looking for ways to make his powerful offense even better.
The Aggies are tied for fifth in the nation in total offense and are third in scoring. Sumlin, known for leading the nation in offense while at Houston, wants more.
"We're not at peak efficiency," he said. "We always have room for improvement. We've got a lot of young guys out there. There are some things that we can do better. I think part of this time of year is trying to constantly improve. Our guys understand that there are some things we can do better."
He's right. The players are looking for the same thing.
"(There are) little mistakes and little things at which we can get better as an offense," senior receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu said. "If we do that, then we will be a tough offense to handle."
The Aggies scored 42 points in the first half against Auburn, and most of the starters sat down after the first series of the second half. The backups continued to score after that, and Texas A&M's 63 points were the most ever scored on Auburn at home.
With Auburn struggling this year, Sumlin knows that his team needs to improve to compete with No. 17 Mississippi State on Saturday before next week's trip to top-ranked Alabama. Mississippi State is 15th in the country in scoring defense, allowing just over 17 points a game, and Alabama allows the fewest points in the nation at just more than eight a game.
That doesn't faze the Aggies, who say they have to focus on themselves instead of worrying about what their opponents.
"You have an expectation level," Sumlin said. "The idea of offensive football is to score. You start with that premise and you want to try to score. Every playbook that I've seen does not have plays drawn that are designed to be unsuccessful. Every play is drawn up to be successful. What we try to do is talk to our guys about doing their job individually, and collectively we'll be successful."
Offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury led Mike Leach's high-flying offenses as a three-year starter at quarterback for Texas Tech. He's brought that scoring mentality to Texas A&M, challenging his offense to put up big numbers every week.
The 63 points A&M scored against Auburn is something the Aggies expect to do.
"It's almost weird because coach Kingsbury is always talking about scoring 70 or talking about scoring crazy numbers like 80," Nwachukwu said. "So to us that's good, but we always want better, we always want more. We're never satisfied with the number of points we score."
For the record, Kingsbury's teams at Tech never scored 70 points when he was a starter. The Aggies reached the mark once this year, in a 70-14 win over South Carolina State of the Football Championship Subdivision in which most of the starters took a seat after halftime.
"We want to score every time we get (the ball)," Kingsbury said. "I think it's a big part of this offense, having belief in yourself and that you should, every time you have the football, be trying to score points. We're not trying to run the clock or have moral victories. We're trying to put the ball in the end zone."
Kingsbury came to Texas A&M with Sumlin after spending the previous two seasons as Houston's co-offensive coordinator. Last season the Cougars led the nation in scoring and total offense.
Kingsbury said it's taken the team a little while to warm up to him and his thoughts on offense.
"I think they've thought I was crazy since Day 1," he said. "They were a little suspect. They're still trying to figure me out, I think."
Kingsbury has other concerns besides scoring. He's also worried about limiting turnovers. Texas A&M didn't turn the ball over against Auburn, but combined for 13 turnovers in their previous three games.
"The week before, we had (five) turnovers and lost and only scored 19 points," Kingsbury said of a 24-19 loss to No. 5 LSU. "It's still week-to-week and it's a growing process. We haven't come close to what I think we can become with this group. It's still a bunch of young guys out there playing, so if we just keep getting better and protect the football, things have to fall into place, but consistency is key."
Updated November 2, 2012