COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M heads back out on the road this weekend to face Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Aggies enter their seventh game with a 3-3 record, leaving behind a brutal slate of opponents that included Clemson, Alabama and Auburn.
Junior safety Keldrick Carper spoke with the media on Monday and reflected on where the team is at mentally, and looked forward to the rest of the season:
Q: Do you sense that anyone is getting discouraged about how the season is going and moving forward?
A: I don't sense discouragement. I sense more so, after the game, disappointment because you work so hard to put together a game plan. When the outcome doesn't come out the way that you hoped it would, you're going to have some disappointment from people. One thing that I did sense, even today, is guys who are encouraged and resilient because we've been in all these games, and we've faced some really good teams. We know this is a long season, and there's a lot ahead for us that we have control of. We're excited for it still.
Q: What's a benefit of playing those three ranked opponents?
A: You go through so many growing pains, and you understand what it takes to be successful. You understand the things you can't do in big-time games against big-time opponents. You have to be able to execute. You have to be able to put together a complete football game in all three phases. That's something that, if you look back on the film and box score, we haven't been able to do.
Looking forward to Ole Miss and from there on out, we have some opportunities to really complete the goals and accomplishments that we want to complete. There are still chances out there for us.
Q: How close are you to reaching those goals?
A: It's hard to say how close because you're never there. It's a matter of just relentless effort and an attitude of wanting to get better. [It's about] never being satisfied with where you're at. When we eventually get to where we think we want to be, we have to just keep going forward from there.
Q: What went wrong with stopping Alabama on third-and-long on Saturday?
A: I felt like Alabama and Tua (Tagovailoa) did a good job of undressing us. We weren't disciplined enough in our disguises. I felt like sometimes if we were blitzing, we crept down there a little too soon. They did a great job with that. Hats off to them. We have to do a better job keying in on the tendencies of the quarterbacks and how they go about their approach and their cadence on third down.
Q: You're about to get into a stretch of games that you should win. How do you take advantage of these upcoming games?
A: These are great games to come together more as a team and really put together our identity and who we want to be. Ole Miss coming up, we have the opportunity to really go out there and solidify ourselves and get off this loss that we just had to Alabama. Just get this taste out of our mouth. We have some great opportunities and some favorable matchups, but hey, this is the SEC, you have to play in every single game. You can't overlook anybody.
Q: Ole Miss has been rotating two quarterbacks. Does that make it more difficult for you guys defensively?
A: It doesn't make it difficult, but you have to be aware of the two quarterbacks. You have to be aware of who they are, what they like to do and what type of quarterbacks they are. Just be prepared. It's something like Arkansas. We had to play against two different quarterbacks, and we were able to adjust eventually and get the job done. That's something going into the week we have the heads up on (this time).
Q: Jimbo Fisher mentioned that Ole Miss run the ball to set up the pass. How important is staying on assignments in that kind of situation?
A: Against a team who run, run, run then deep pass, that's something that will get you a little frustrated playing in the secondary, of course. We just have to stay sound in what we're trying to do, be disciplined, and we'll be able to get the job done.
Q: What improvements have you seen defensively now that it's game seven?
A: From a confidence standpoint, in comparison to when we played Clemson, I feel like we didn't spew that confidence defensively. Guys weren't always sure about what they were doing out there. Versus Saturday, we made some plays. Demani (Richardson), who has made some tremendous strides, made a big interception in that ball game, versus a couple of weeks ago when he was trying to get himself together and feel stuff out.
I've seen strides from this defense, and we still have to keep going in that direction.