Friday, April 27, 2012
Previewing Texas A&M's spring game
By Chris Low
Texas A&M is the last of the SEC teams to finish up its spring, as the Aggies play their annual Maroon & White spring game on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET at Kyle Field.
Here are a few things to watch:
Answers at quarterback: It sounds like it’s down to sophomore Jameill Showers and redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel for now, and Showers has the edge going into the spring game. It’s not an insurmountable edge by any means, and here’s Manziel’s chance to show what he can do in front of a crowd in a game-type situation. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is still waiting for somebody to lay claim to the job and make this his team.
Helping the quarterback: While so much attention has been on the quarterback battle this spring, it’s equally important that the Aggies find a few more playmakers on the perimeter and play more consistently around whoever wins the quarterback job. Senior Ryan Swope is a proven playmaker after catching 89 passes last season, including 11 touchdowns. Senior Kenric McNeal and sophomore Malcome Kennedy have been battling for the slot job opposite Swope. Redshirt freshman Mike Evans has made a move this spring and might have passed junior Nate Askew on the right side.
Getting physical: The Aggies’ spring game will be an offense vs. defense scrimmage, so there should be some good battles up front. The strength of the team should be an experienced, talented offensive line, so it will be interesting to see how much success the front seven on defense has in putting pressure on the quarterbacks and getting penetration.
Making the move: The Aggies shifted from a 3-4 to a 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Mark Snyder this spring, and several guys are learning new positions. Junior Damontre Moore has been a natural at defensive end after playing the “Joker” hybrid position last season in the 3-4. Also, junior Steven Jenkins has had an excellent spring at weak side linebacker, and sophomore Donnie Baggs has been equally impressive in that same spot. Senior linebacker Sean Porter, who led the Aggies with 9.5 sacks last season, is still adjusting to playing inside when they go to their nickel package.
Thin at safety: It would be nice if the Aggies could trade a few cornerbacks for safeties. They like their depth at cornerback, but injuries have again left them shorthanded at safety. Senior Steven Campbell’s foot problems forced him to miss his second straight spring. Junior Toney Hurd, Jr. has lined up as the nickel cornerback this spring, but he could be a candidate to move to safety in the fall.