Senior cornerback Anthony Gaitor surely would have preferred getting out of Texas A&M with a win, but he has got a nice parting gift for his two-turnover-causing performance in College Station.
The Sun Belt Conference named Gaitor its defensive player of the week Monday.
More to come after Mario Cristobal’s conference call …
Transcript of Mario Cristobal's weekly conference call
“We’re playing some of these BCS opponents really, really tough, and are looking forwarding to putting four quarters of football together, instead of three and three and a half quarters. We’re pretty excited to go up to College Park to play Maryland.
What’s the latest on Ariel Martinez? How about other injuries?
“Ariel suffered a pretty significant knee injury. There definitely is some cartilage and ligament damage, so he will be lost for the season. Pooh Bear Mars is improving, but not fully healed yet. I think there’s a chance we get James Jones this week.”
What are your thoughts about Anthony Gaitor being defensive player of the week?
“Going back to fall camp, he made the commitment. He was challenged by our defensive coaches to be a better football player, and he responded. He had to respond to a demotion during springtime, by having the best summer, the best offseason he’s ever had. He’s playing lights-out football. He really is. Not only physically, but mentally, he’s on-point, he’s coaching up the guys, and we’re using him in a variety of different ways. And he’s possibly a guy we use on punt returns this weekend.”
What did you see out of Wesley Carroll Saturday? He went the distance. Did you have any thoughts of putting in Wayne Younger?
“There were some things that might have presented an opportunity for [Younger]. But we just felt the more reps Wesley gets right now, the better he’s going to get. It was a very tough defense we played against. They threw all kinds of stuff at us, so we felt good about letting him continue and finish the football game, and of course he’s going into this weekend as the starter, as well.”
You mentioned playing a full four quarters. At what point does it become a mental thing?
“It’s about finishing. We have placed ourselves in a position, as a Sun Belt school, to go toe-to-toe with these BCS opponents, and actually have a chance in the fourth quarter to be leading the football and a chance to win. In our case, and where we come from, it actually makes our appetite a little bit stronger, and gets us hungrier to go forward and push the football team and win football games.
“Finish is something you’re going to preach in everything you do, whether it be a set in the weight room, a mental rep through a walk-through, and of course in practice. Finishing is a mentality. Finishing is a way of life, and a way you complete. Everything, schoolwork, football. It’s something you harp upon and preach all the time. We’re getting closer to it. We just have to go do it.”
The rush defense looks like it has taken big steps up from last year. What has been the reason?
“I think a couple of things. We finally have a weight room. This is the first time in the time we’ve been here that we’ve worked out a full offseason with a weight room. Being able to work out our bodies. Second of all, I think our players commit have themselves to being better football players. And Coach Collins, our defensive coordinator, has done a great job of coaching those guys up.”
When you see Maryland giving up eight sacks, is there anything you can take from that?
“Maryland is a very talented football team, and in everything we’ve seen on film so far, they’re very big and they’re very physical. They can run the ball and they have a very athletic quarterback. When he gets hot, he’s really hard to stop. Them giving up those sacks against West Virginia isn’t something you look at and say, ‘Wow, they’re not performing well.’ They are. They’re a good football team and they have performed well. The couple of mistakes weren’t attributed fully to the offensive line. And they’re very correctable. It’s similar to what we had in Game 1. We expect a high-caliber, very explosive Maryland football team.”