We all know that football season never ends in the SEC. Well, it’s cranking back up in earnest next week, at least the spring version, when LSU opens spring practice on Thursday.
As usual, there’s a lot that’s new in the SEC, including coaches and even a pair of new teams. Missouri settles into the Eastern Division and Texas A&M into the Western Division.
And while the league lost its share of star players, plenty of star power returns.
So let's kick off our SEC spring preview with Texas A&M.
So without further adieu …
Spring practice starts: March 31
Spring game: April 28
What to watch:
Sumlin takes over: First-year coach Kevin Sumlin takes over in College Station, and the spring will be his first real chance to place his stamp on the program. He’s already said that all jobs are open and purposely didn’t watch any film from the 2011 regular season. He wants to make his own evaluations on the field, which means there will be some serious auditions going on this spring. Sumlin ran a wide-open spread offense at Houston because that’s the kind of personnel he had. He’ll certainly modify his system to fit his personnel this first season at Texas A&M, which likely means running the ball more given the Aggies’ returning experience in the offensive line and their stable of backs.
Quarterback hunting: One of Sumlin’s first orders of business is finding a quarterback, and there’s at least four candidates on campus. The only guy with any game experience (and it’s not much) is rising sophomore Jameill Showers, who backed up Ryan Tannehill last season. The other two returnees are Johnny Manziel and Matt Joeckel, both of whom will be redshirt freshmen. Manziel is more of a runner, while the 6-4, 230-pound Joeckel is a pocket passer. Sumlin knows at least a little bit about Showers, Manziel and Joeckel. He recruited all three at Houston. There’s also true freshman Matt Davis, who’s already enrolled and will go through spring practice.
Finishing the drill: As all Texas A&M fans are well aware, the Aggies weren’t what you could call a second-half team last season. In fact, they were far from it and time and time wilted in the second half. Sumlin has made it known that one of his goals is for the program to toughen up both physically and mentally. In five of the Aggies’ six losses last season, they were ahead at halftime or at some point in the second half. The defense absorbed much of the blame and definitely has to improve as Texas A&M makes the jump to the SEC, but Sumlin wants to make sure this spring that he instills a program-wide toughness that carries over into the fall.