Tidbits from Texas A&M's spring game

April, 18, 2009
4/18/09
8:28
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Here are some final notes and quotes from Texas A&M's scrimmage this afternoon.

  • Despite running behind a patchwork offensive line that was missing three starters, A&M's running game showed flashes of promise. Redshirt freshman tailback Jay Tolliver rushed for a scrimmage-high 67 yards and sophomore Cyrus Gray accounted for a 22-yard touchdown run.

"I think they played well," A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson said. "They didn't get too much time to be in space, but they did really well. They are going to surprise a lot of people this year. As usual, our running backs are going to be one of the strengths on our team."

  • The patchwork offensive line wasn't as strong in pass protection, making it one of A&M coach Mike Sherman's biggest concerns coming out of Saturday's scrimmage.

"We struggled in the offensive line, I thought," Sherman said. "We're going to try to coach them up and try to get them to a point where they play like we want them to play."

Sherman expects the group to improve markedly once the starters return to the unit after the spring.

"When you take three starters out of a group, it's very difficult going against a starting defensive unit," Sherman said. "We had some try-hard walk-on guys -- God bless them, they did a good job -- but they were no match for Von Miller."

  • Part of the credit for A&M's defensive improvement was given to coordinator Joe Kines dialing back the responsibilities for the team.

Johnson said he's also more comfortable in the offense in his second season as starter after some of the verbiage in A&M's offense was similarly simplified.

"Our plays haven't changed, but how we're calling them has changed," Johnson said. "That's helped me a lot getting out there. It allows me to make more checks at the line because I'm not thinking as much. And I think changing everything up has helped out the offense a lot."

  • Saturday's scrimmage was technically A&M's 13th workout of the spring, meaning they still have two more practices scheduled next week before they end spring practice.

That decision originally prompted some disappointment from team members, but Johnson said the extra work next week will be good for the team.

"We've got a lot to improve on," Johnson said. "We spent a long time in the winter cleaning things up. At first, we were kind of upset we've still got two practices after the spring game, but now we can watch film, go back and correct those mistakes. That will be good for us."

  • The Aggies attracted a large contingent of potential recruits, including many who could help the program because of their speed.

Kines said that he was enthused after hearing about the backgrounds of many of the recruits.

"You ask those linebackers what they are doing and they say running the track -- the 100, the 200 and the 4-by-100 (relays). That's some good words there, instead of 'I'm sitting over there throwing the shot.'"

  • Texas A&M was down to two cornerbacks with true game experience for most of the scrimmage. Justin McQueen and Terrence Frederick got most of the snaps with converted wide receiver Chevar Bryson providing some backup.

"We were down there looking up in the stands," Kines said, chuckling. "We had one little boy up there with a jersey on. We almost got him. He looked like he might play."

That resourcefulness prompted special praise for defensive backs coach Charles McMillian from Kines.

"I don't know how he keeps them out there," Kines said. "He would bring them over, water them up and throw them right back in there."

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