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Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Practice notes: QB battle continues

By Sam Khan Jr.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- No matter who wins the ongoing quarterback battle at Texas A&M, it's worth noting that there won't be any rotation of sorts or time-share between two or three of the candidates. Coach Kevin Sumlin indicated on Monday after the Aggies' evening practice that whoever it is, it will be one quarterback.

Johnny Manziel
Redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel took the majority of first-team snaps during Texas A&M's scrimmage over the weekend.
"I have traditionally not been a two or three-quarterback system guy," Sumlin said. "I think a guy's got to feel like he's got the team and I feel like a guy's got to feel like he's the backup and when his opportunity comes, if it comes, then he needs to be ready to play instead of shoveling guys in and out."

The battle between the trio of sophomores Matt Joeckel and Jameill Showers and redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel continues. Manziel and Joeckel shined during Saturday's scrimmage at Kyle Field and on Monday during a brief team session during the open portion of practice, Manziel lined up with the first team and Showers went with the second team, perhaps indicating that Manziel has taken the lead.

With a smile, Sumlin reminded reporters that despite the thought that Showers might have had the job all but wrapped up heading into fall training camp, that it was still and is still very much open.

"You know they were all good," Sumlin said of their performances in Saturday's scrimmage. "They all did some good things. I thought that Johnny operated very very well. Like I said Saturday, just by his numbers, you can tell that he had an excellent day. I thought his progressions were good. He took care of the football and I thought all of them did a pretty good job of doing that. It wasn't that Jameill was bad, it's just that the other two guys were playing pretty good, too.

"I'm not surprised by the development of all three of them. Like I said in the spring, you guys are the ones that said we had a quarterback picked. I never said that. I'll keep reminding you guys of that all of the time."

Other notables from Monday's practice:

• Defensive tackles Kirby Ennis and Jonathan Mathis, who sat out a few workouts last week including Saturday's scrimmage with minor injuries, returned to the lineup and worked with the first-team defense.

• One true freshman that saw significant field time on Saturday and continues to push for playing time is defensive end Julien Obioha. Sumlin specifically cited him for what he has shown during camp. Like fellow true freshman De'Vante Harris, who worked with the first team at cornerback during Saturday's scrimmage, Obioha is pushing for a spot in the starting lineup. Obioha got some work with the first-team defense also at defensive end on Saturday and on Monday.

"He's a guy that's really coming into the forefront and push to not only play, but to do some things," Sumlin said. "It's like I told those guys, Obioha, you look there at the depth chart today and they're up there and De'Vante Harris because their production out here at practice is as good as anybody, so let's get the competition going and let's play."

• Special teams coordinator Brian Polian said he believed redshirt freshman Taylor Bertolet has made strides in the kicking battle. Bertolet, who came to Texas A&M as an Under Armour All-American and one of the nation's top kickers in the 2011 signing class, is battling walk-on Davis Plowman of Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity for the placekicking duties. The pair, along with walk-on Seth Hiddink, are battling to fill the void left by Lou Groza Award winner Randy Bullock, who was drafted by the Houston Texans.

"I do think Taylor Bertolet has started to separate himself from the pack," Polian said. "I've been very pleased with his progress so far. We have a couple of technique things that I think we need to get straightened out, but overall I think he's hitting the ball very well. As a staff, we are very pleased with his demeanor. He's taken coaching and is working on his craft."

• Polian said that while he came into camp hoping to make a decision on a punter after 10 or 11 practices, the battle between Ryan Epperson and Drew Kaser will continue throughout this week.

"We probably need all of this week," Polian said. "Every punt we've done in a team setting, whether it be in a practice or out in the stadium, has been charted, so we need to build a bigger database there in terms of being able to compare and contrast. I think Epperson has come on here lately the last two or three times we've done punt. He's been pretty good. But we're not there yet."

• Three true freshmen could be candidates in the kick return game, according to Polian: running back Trey Williams and receivers Sabian Holmes and Thomas Johnson. The Aggies return a veteran punt returner in senior Dustin Harris, who led the nation with an 18.6-yard average last season. Obviously, he'll factor in the return game as well.