Tide says A&M game won't define the season
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Sep 05, 2013 | 2116 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Texas A&M defenders celebrate after a fumble by Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon in last season's matchup. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
Texas A&M defenders celebrate after a fumble by Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon in last season's matchup. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
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TUSCALOOSA -- There have been losses that have stuck with Alabama long after the season ended.

Count last year's home defeat to Texas A&M as one of them.
But for Alabama’s upcoming slugfest with A&M, no extra tactics are needed.

“We really didn’t do anything in the off-season,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “I think the players pretty much realize the circumstances that we didn’t play very well in the game last year, they played a lot better than we did.”

For safety Vinnie Sunseri, this one game won’t define an entire season.

“No. No, we’re just excited for the opportunity we got,” Sunseri said. “You shouldn’t really get excited for a certain game, you should get excited for every game if you’re a true competitor like Coach Saban says.”

The Tide is still trying to figure out ways to prepare for Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel.

“He’s a great guy. Everybody’s talking about him, but I just look at him as a football player,” Sunseri said. “He’s a great athlete, makes a lot of great plays off of scrambles, but he can be a pocket passer, too. So you know we have to be ready for everything.”

Manziel pushed the Aggies to an early 20-0 lead in last year’s contest. Even though Alabama fought back, Manziel and the Aggies made just enough plays down the stretch to preserve the victory 29-24.

“We couldn’t make up for an early lead, and I think the players understand what it takes to play against this kind of offensive team and how important it is for the entire team to play well against this team,” Saban said. “We really haven’t had anything special going on in the off-season.”

Sunseri said all hands are on deck when it comes to giving the defense a good look to simulate Manziel in practice. Freshmen quarterbacks Luke Del Rio and Cooper Bateman were seen wearing No. 2 during Thursday’s practice while running the scout-team offense.

Blake Sims is expected to provide the Tide with a glimpse of Manziel's athleticism. But in Saban’s eyes, one never can truly prepare for what Manziel does best.

“That’s probably one of the most difficult things to simulate in practice,” Saban said. “You have to have a very athletic guy who’s got some quarterback skills and some quarterback instincts, which Blake Sims is probably a guy who can do that for us a little bit athletically. But I don't think that you can ever simulate it because you never know for sure what the guy’s going to do when he scrambles.”
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