COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has been a regular provider of comic relief during his weekly meetings with the media this season.
The veteran coach is usually good for a one-liner or two during his roughly 10-minute Q&A session with reporters, and this particular Tuesday was no different in that regard.
But as question after question about Alabama's greatness rolled in, Mazzone seemed to become almost annoyed.
Do you feel you can have success running the ball versus Alabama?
Why is that? Because I don't think Tennessee had a lot of success doing that ...
Mazzone: "Well, we're not Tennessee, all right? We run the football. If they stop us, they stop us. All right? I don't understand the question. The question is: Can we have success running the football? We're gonna run the football. Now, are they a really good defense and they may stuff our butts? Sure. All right? But we're not going to know that until Saturday at 2:30 [CT] when they kick this thing off."
As Texas A&M players and coaches fielded questions from reporters during the team's weekly media availability Tuesday, dozens of questions centered on the Crimson Tide, the Aggies' Week 8 opponent. That's not unusual; thoughts on a team's upcoming opponent are normal fodder for discussion across college football.
On this particular Tuesday, however, it became evident that at least some of the Aggies have heard enough about how good the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide are.
"Alabama's been the king of college football for a while now," right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor said. "But like I said before, no king reigns forever. Every dog has their day. I'm really excited and I know my teammates are really excited to get in there and show the country that we're not a pushover team and that we're here."
Eluemunor, a senior, had the strongest words Tuesday that seem to echo the kind of confidence shared among other members of the 6-0 Aggies. A sampling from the London native:
"We know that we're tough. We know that we're good. We wouldn't be 6-0 if we weren't. Like Coach [Kevin] Sumlin said, we have to create our own energy and we have to go in there and we have to block out all the negativity and the fact that we're a 16.5-point underdog. Everyone's giving us no chance whatsoever. We don't listen to all that. We see that, but we don't listen to it. It just fuels the fire. We're going to go in there and play lights-out and give it everything we've got."
On the Aggies being such large underdogs: "[Laughs] It's annoying to me. It's just going to bring the best out of me, because I get to go up against the best -- well, the second-best D-line in the country, because our D-line is the best -- but I'm excited to go up against the players they have because they have great players and it's a great stage. Everyone's going to be watching us and going up against the best is going to bring the best out of us, so I'm excited to see what my O-line does against their D-line."
On potentially being a target with such bold statements: "[I don't mind] because I love my team. I'm going to do everything I can for my team and I know what this team can do. It's just funny to me when you're 6-0 and you work really hard but a lot of people count you out already and the game's not even been played. ... We had this bye week and we're preparing mentally. We're prepared for this. I remember when we lost 59-0 [to Alabama in 2014]. To me, the team is different now. We're more together. We love each other. ... We have players on every single side of the ball. We have depth and we have what we need. That's why I'm so excited about this team, because like Coach Sumlin said, we haven't played a perfect game yet and we're 6-0."
One reporter asked Sumlin about using the large point spread as a potential motivating factor for his team.
"We haven't been motivated by that all year," Sumlin said. "Somebody asked me, 'Well, nobody gives you a chance.' Well, I guess it's a good thing nobody's playing.
"What we've done so far has been good enough to win every game. All I said was and as I've said in these situations before, we don't have to be the best team this year. We just have to be the best team on Saturday."
There was certainly plenty of acknowledgement of how good the Crimson Tide are and usual clichés spouted about. Texas A&M safety Justin Evans, when asked his thoughts of people predicting the Aggies will get routed by Alabama, summed up the Aggies' attitude best:
"We play Saturday, so we'll see."