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Kevin Sumlin, 50, will enter his fourth season as head coach of Texas A&M this fall.

He was the second coach to speak Tuesday as SEC Media Days, after South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier. Sumlin kept a promise to his wife, in which he would combat Spurrier in a humorous match, however, he did mention how excited he and Texas A&M are for this season.

Louisiana State University and Texas A&M have faced each other 53 times, dating back to 1899. The Tigers own the series 30-20-3, winning the last four games since 2011.

Texas A&M kept the game close last season, but LSU’s running back Leonard Fournette was too much, as it lost 23-17.

Part of LSU’s success in its three straight wins over the Aggies was defensive coordinator John Chavis. He schemed his blitz packages well and played solid coverage behind it.

The Tigers’ were among the nation’s top defenses during Chavis’s tenure (2009-14), and he placed 25 student-athletes into the NFL Draft. As he transitions from Louisiana to Texas, Sumlin said the move has been a great fit for Chavis and a great fit for Texas A&M.

“He was ready for a new challenge,” Sumlin said on Chavis. “We were in the market, obviously, and here’s a guy who’s got a tremendous track record in the SEC and recently in the SEC West, So his knowledge of opponents and the league helps me as a head coach.”

Sumlin said Chavis’s style has been studied by Texas A&M for the last three years in the offseason. Offensively, he wants to find a way to score more points, but Sumlin was pleased with how the team responded against Auburn and in the Liberty Bowl against West Virginia.

“Our guys left the season feeling a heck of a lot better about themselves than they did during the middle of the year,” Sumlin said. “But when you have that many young guys that we are playing, I think what we learned as coaches and hopefully as players is what it takes to go through the grind of this league.”

The LSU-Texas A&M rivalry has been intense due to recruiting, but Chavis’s aggravation upon leaving the Tigers to join the Aggies may add more fuel to the fire.

“I don’t think it can get any more spicier than it is now,” Sumlin said on the rivalry. “We’ve got all kinds of story lines involved, but certainly people want to make it what it is. Everybody’s always going to look for some reason to ratchet it up a bit.”

Myles Garrett, Armani Watts, Alonzo Williams and De’Vante Harris are among the few talented players on defense that Chavis will have the luxury of working with.

Garrett, a sophomore, totaled 53 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks last season at defensive end. Williams, a senior, put in 57 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.

Watts and Harris should benefit from Chavis’s combo coverage technique in the secondary.

Watts, a sophomore, played in 13 games at free safety in 2014. He chimed in with 59 tackles, two tackles for loss and three interceptions. Harris had 53 tackles with one interception.


Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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