At this same point last year, Kevin Sumlin could have been described as giddy.
He often wore a smile, and who wouldn’t have with newly hired John Chavis on staff. Sumlin also seemed excited about having the mix of Jake Spavital and Dave Christensen on the offensive staff.
Fast-forward to 2016 and only Chavis remains on a rebuilt staff. And Sumlin is noticeably less giddy.
Maybe that's a good thing.
Nobody knows what is going on inside Sumlin's head, but after two years of hot starts and late stumbles, you can't blame the guy for wanting to play things a little closer to the vest. Take a news conference on Tuesday as an example. While he wasn't that talkative, he was honest, especially when asked what he'd like to see from Saturday's scrimmage.
"Really good football," Sumlin said. "Anything else? I don't know what else there is."
Fair enough. He did go on to add that by Sunday, A&M coaches hope to have an idea of the 65 to 75 players who are the Aggies' "top" guys and core special-teamers. In order to do that effectively, he'll need to see them on Kyle Field.
Something about the lights, the surroundings, the history tends to mess with a player. If you don't know how they handle that without people in the stadium, it'd be hard to trust them when 100,000-plus are in the stands.
"It's just different in there," Sumlin said. "Julian Obiaha would have great practices in (the indoor facility); then we get out there and he'd just blow a gasket. He'd go the wrong way, looking up at the lights and there's nobody there.
"There's just a different environment from the practice field to the stadium, particularly with young players. So we'd like to get out there."
Sumlin no doubt wants to see how his players communicate on the big stage, especially along the offensive line, a position group that coaches still are working on.
Senior Jermaine Eluemunor, one of the Aggies' most experienced linemen, tried his hand at right guard instead of tackle in the early going of Tuesday's practice. Why? It's all part of trying to find the best combination of five players. Going forward, that might mean more changes are made. It also might mean there aren't any made at all.
"You'd hope we'd play the same five guys the whole year," Sumlin said. "But just because we do something one day doesn't mean that's where it's going to be. You guys (media) only see the first 10 minutes of practice. You don't see the whole practice."
Whatever the end result, it's likely a good thing that Sumlin is open to line changes. With underclassmen being in the majority, you never know the rate at which they'll develop into SEC-caliber starters. For Sumlin's sake – and Trevor Knight's health – coaches are smart to make sure they all get a fair shot.
With so much at stake this season, it'd be no surprise if Sumlin changes things up, and he may have started with his attitude.
That could be a good thing.
(You can follow Cavender Neutze on Twitter @neutz9)
© 2016, Cavender Neutze. All rights reserved.
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