Thursday, April 11, 2013
Spring game storylines: Texas A&M
By Sam Khan Jr.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M has been busy working the last five weeks, participating in spring football with 13 practices under their belt. The 14th is today and the 15th is on Saturday: the Maroon-and-White spring game, which is at 2 p.m. CT at Kyle Field. There's much to know and watch for this weekend. Here are five storylines to keep an eye on:
Aggies signal-caller Johnny Manziel likely won't play much in Saturday's Maroon-and-White spring game.
1. Hello, nation: Sure it's just spring and it's essentially another practice, but the Aggies will be showcased nationally when ESPN broadcasts the Maroon-and-White game live. That's a first for Texas A&M football, and it's exposure that can't be bought. Whether you like them or you don't, there's no denying the Aggies are a national story after an 11-2 debut as an SEC member and Johnny Manziel's Heisman Trophy-winning season.
2. What will Johnny do? Right or wrong, good or bad, all eyes are seemingly on Manziel these days. On or off the field, his profile is as high as it has ever been. Saturday is a chance for the nation to catch a glimpse of him doing what it is that got him to be as popular as he is now -- play football. The Aggies have a new offensive coordinator (Clarence McKinney) and a new quarterbacks coach (Jake Spavital) as well as plenty of new receivers and a couple of new offensive linemen. So don't expect the Aggies offense to look perfect, but it will be interesting to see how that side of the ball -- and Manziel specifically -- is coming along. Watch running backs Brandon Williams and Tra Carson and Edward Pope and Derel Walker, who have all seen plenty of work this spring and should play increased (or new) roles this fall. The offensive line is also worth watching with four players playing either new positions or starting for the first time.
3. Fresh faces on D: Texas A&M's defense is undergoing many changes this year when it comes to personnel. Some players have been sidelined for the spring because of injuries (starting defensive end Julien Obioha, defensive tackle Kirby Ennis and linebacker Steven Jenkins are among those who have missed parts or all of spring), which has given plenty of practice time to younger or more inexperienced players, particularly in the front seven. Of the defensive position groups, the secondary has the most experience returning, though Floyd Raven's move from cornerback to safety has been one of the intriguing storylines this spring. But newcomers like linebackers Tommy Sanders, Reggie Chevis, Brett Wade, or young returnees like defensive lineman Alonzo Williams and defensive ends and brothers Tyrone Taylor and Tyrell Taylor will get a chance to show what kind of progress they've made in the last month.
5. Return of Double R? Last week during the Friday Night Lights scrimmage, Texas A&M made quite the splash with recruits, players and even fans by unveiling a live disc jockey, DJ Double R, at Kyle Field for the scrimmage. Sitting inside a Texas A&M equipment truck on the Kyle Field sideline, neon lights flashed inside and images of Double R spinning tunes flashed on the Aggies' video board while those in attendance soaked in the atmosphere. It created quite the buzz in Aggieland and particularly among recruits, who could be heard talking about it over the weekend at the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday in Allen, Texas. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin acknowledged this week "I don't think that's going to be the last time [we do it], based on the response." While he's never one to disclose plans of these sorts of things, don't be shocked if Double R makes a return trip on Saturday and the buzz permeates nationwide since national TV cameras will be affixed on Kyle Field.