The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

November 1, 2012

SEC expansion gives conference new look

— COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — The Southeastern Conference's first expansion since 1991 has added not only new travel and experiences for newcomers Texas A&M and Missouri, but also the rest of the league.

The new look of the SEC isn't limited to the changes in its geography, though, as the Aggies have remained one of the top offenses in the country, shaking up things in a league long known for defense.

The Aggies are third in the nation in scoring (45.5 ppg) and tied for fifth in total offense (542.88 ypg). It's nothing new for first-year Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, whose Houston team topped the country in scoring and total offense last season.

Despite that success in Conference USA, many doubted he could replicate it in a league where five teams finished in the top 10 nationally in defense last season.

Sumlin was matter-of-fact when asked if he ever questioned whether his offense could succeed in the SEC.

"If we didn't think it could work, we wouldn't run it," he said.

Still, he understands why people were reticent to believe this offense could put up huge numbers against much tougher competition. Especially in a conference where no team has finished in the top 5 nationally in scoring since Florida was fourth in 2008, or total offense since the Gators finished second in 2000.

"People have the right," Sumlin said. "We're the new guys in the league so I don't see that as derogatory or anything like that. You're always going to be skeptical of anything that's new or that you don't know about."

Auburn coach Gene Chizik saw just how powerful A&M's offense could be on Saturday in a 63-21 A&M win. Texas A&M had 34 first downs, 671 yards and scored touchdowns on seven of eight possessions with quarterback Johnny Manziel before he was replaced after the first possession of the third quarter.

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