- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The two-a-days portion of Texas A&M’s fall training camp wrapped up last week with the Aggies having three two-a-days and nine practices in all last week, concluding with Saturday’s open-to-the-public scrimmage. Now the players will hone in on game preparations for Louisiana Tech, the Aggies’ season-opening opponent on Aug. 30 at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La.
Here are some things that stood out from Saturday's scrimmage and what they could mean moving forward:
• Improvement on defense: In the Aggies’ previous open scrimmage, the offense moved the ball consistently on the defense. The Texas A&M defense slowed it down on Saturday and coach Kevin Sumlin said he saw improvement both in the defensive line and in the linebacker play. The unit also did a good job of mixing things up and keeping the offense off-balance. Those characteristics appear to be a sign of things to come for the defense this year, which will have to battle depth issues along the defensive line while playing a base 4-3 alignment after spending the last two seasons in the 3-4.
“We're not a sit-there-and-watch-you defense,” Sumlin said. “We can't be. We're not going to make excuses for what we have up front. We have to play with what we have so we've got to be a little creative. I think our defensive staff is doing that.”
• Trey Williams continues to progress: If his play during the Aggies’ scrimmages is any indication, the true freshman running back is going to have a role in the offense. He again dazzled the onlookers with his agility and quickness to deliver some more highlights and if he can do well in pass protection, it’ll be hard to keep him off the field.
• Secondary taking shape: The pieces are coming together in the Aggies’ young defensive backfield, now it’s just a matter of finding the final pieces and determining where their place will be. Sumlin and the defensive coaches have been complementary of true freshman cornerback De’Vante Harris and sophomore corner/safety Deshazor Everett and it appears those two will be on the field -- Harris at corner and Everett at either corner or safety. Veterans Steven Campbell and Steven Terrell are solid options at safety and could be starting next to each other if Everett’s at corner. Toney Hurd has been working well at the nickel cornerback spot.
• Quarterbacks still competing: Though a starter has been named, redshirt sophomores Matt Joeckel and Jameill Showers continued to compete with each other and Sumlin was complimentary of all of the quarterbacks’ attitudes in the wake of Johnny Manziel being named the starter.
“You never know when your chance is going to come,” Sumlin said. “And they know that and Johnny knows that, so you can do one of two things: You can take where you are in life and try to improve it or you can hang your head and just say 'That's that,' and these guys aren't doing that. And we've got a couple positions out there right now that if they were competing at the level the quarterbacks were competing, we'd be alright. We've got some guys that I think have accepted their roles and that's disappointing."
2dSam Khan and Greg Ostendorf