No. 24 Texas A&M plays its second top-ranked team of the season on Saturday afternoon, as No. 1 Alabama will travel to face the Aggies at Kyle Field.
Here is what junior wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon, who leads the team in receiving with 446 yards and two touchdowns, had to say when he spoke with the media about this weekend’s SEC matchup:
Q: What did you feel was the emphasis of the bye week?
A: Just really competing. Our practice went back to fall camp, just good-on-good periods, one-on-one, working on blocking and being physical, just kind of getting those fundamentals back installed.
Q: How big do you think it is that you have already played Clemson and Auburn?
A: It should be a good thing. You know what you’re getting into. It helps you realize that it’s just football. It’s not the first time you’ve been there. I think for a guy like me and older guys, the biggest thing is relaying that message to the young guys that play a huge role in this team: Just lock in and compete at the highest level.
Q: How much are you looking forward to the challenge of Alabama’s secondary?
A: It’s always a very physical game. I think, since I’ve been a freshman, I’ve been a part of that. It’s going to be a very hard man-coverage game, getting off press (coverage) and making plays down the field. (There will be) contested catches, tight windows. It’s kind of what the NFL symbolizes. I think that coach Saban coaches them well. He coaches the cornerbacks and safeties. It’s going to be a very tough and physical game for us. We’ve got to get open.
Q: What about the challenge of their receivers versus your receivers?
A: It’s motivation, honestly. Obviously, we’re trying to make the biggest plays. But seeing those guys make plays when they’re playing on the other team, it’s a pride thing, also. You want to leave the field knowing you played a better game than them. At the end of the day, we want to come off the field with a win.
Q: What about getting 7 points instead of 3?
A: I’m never OK with kicking a field goal. We have got to score. I take it very personally when we don’t score. We drive the field well, but we don’t finish. We’ve got to do that in practice (and) then do it on the game field. It comes down to that.
Q: Do you think the offense runs a little bit better when you go up-tempo?
A: Yeah, I think that’s because you think less. You are moreso relying on fundamentals and stuff like that. That’s why coach Fisher did things like last week when we’re having those periods (at practice) where we’re just competing. He sees that we do the best when we’re not thinking. He tries to take the load off of us but, at the end of the day, nothing’s rocket science.
Q: How important is it to protect home field?
A: It’s huge. It’s a pride thing. I think it shows the kind of team you are, the kind of man you are. Like I said, just pride. Somebody coming in and beating you -- that can’t be OK. You can’t lay with that. That shouldn’t be OK with you. When somebody comes in here and plays you at home, you should take that approach and play with that mentality every play.
Q: How important is it to keep the fans in the game early?
A: It’s very important. It just comes down to coming out there with that fire and energy that we’re playing football, the game that we love. It’s what we signed up for. There’s nothing that we didn’t ask for. We just have to come out with the fire and urge to get better.
Q: I’m sure you guys came into the season with your own expectations. How tough has it been to this point that you guys haven’t quite met those expectations?
A: It’s just frustrating. With the getting on social media part, someone else shouldn’t put expectations on you. There’s no way somebody could expect more out of you than yourself. That should be how it is. I don’t think there’s any expectations. It’s just frustrating when you put in all this work and you don’t come out on Saturdays. You only get 12 opportunities to put it on the film. I think that it’s very frustrating, but there’s no expectations.
Q: What’s the key to finding that?
A: Knowing your "why," having that urge to come out and get better each day and understanding that this is not here forever. These opportunities don’t last forever, so we have to make the most of them.