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August 14, 2013

Wednesday practice notes

After the lousy heat and humidity of the past couple of weeks, the Aggies caught a bit of a break today due to the weather. It's cloudy and raining on and off, so the team split the time we were there between the indoor facility and outside.

First off, injury notes: Deshazor Everett (thumb), Jonathan Wiggins, Steven Jenkins and Gavin Stansbury weren't participating this afternoon. Doesn't appear any of them were seriously banged up. Trey Williams was back after being out yesterday.

While the team was inside, they worked on kickoff returns for the first time that we've seen. Trey and Ben Malena were the first team returners, with Quiv and Tra Carson on the second team. Tramain Jacobs was back with Jeremy Tabuyo on the first return for the third group, and Sebastian Larue the second time.

During quick play, we got to see two sessions of both the ones and twos, and in short yardage. That was a first for us. The short yardage group for the first team included Mike Evans, Sabian Holmes and Derel Walker at wideout, with Cam Clear on the line of scrimmage at tight end. Ben Malena was behind Johnny Manziel, who was operating out of the pistol. On defense, Kirby Ennis, Tyrell Taylor and Alonzo Williams were up front, with Donnie Baggs, Tommy Sanders and Jordan Mastrogiovanni the linebackers. The defensive backs were Clay Honeycutt, Floyd Raven, Howard Matthews, Devante Harris and Tramain Jacobs.

On the first play, Manziel tried to hit Holmes on a quick slant and Raven made a great play to bat it away. On the second play, Manziel ran speed option to the weak side of the field and made the toss to Malena, who was obliterated by Donnie Baggs, who knocked him out of bounds. Manziel then went to a lob pass to Derel Walker, and that was defended nicely by Harris. Kyle Serres kicked a field goal.

Kenny Hill was in with the second team, with Tra Carson. Travis Labhart was one of the receivers, with Nehemiah Hicks and Cam Clear both on the field. Before I could get all the defenders, the drive was over; Hill fumbled the snap and Reggie Chevis shot through and recovered it.

The first team offense came back out and the only real change to either side was the defense going to a four man front with Julien Obioha coming in and Floyd Raven going out. Manziel tried to hook up with Mike Evans on a quick slant and Tramain Jacobs nicely knocked the pass away. Another try with the speed option and Malena didn't work, but Tra Carson came in and bulled his way into the end zone from about two yards out. It was about as strong a run as we've seen from.

When the second team defense came out this time, Daeshon Hall, Tyrone Taylor, Hardreck Walker and Justin Manning were up front, with Nate Askew, Chevis and Tavares Garner, Sam Moeller, Alex Sezer, Noel Ellis and Raven on the field. This drive didn't last very long, either, because Hill faked a handoff to Trey Williams, rolled to his right and found Clear wide open in the end zone for a short pass. From the way Mark Snyder reacted, it appeared Chevis blew a coverage assignment on Clear. Serres came in for the extra point and missed it wide left.

Observations:

The more we get to see, the more we see how many players could be utilized this season -- especially on defense. There are all kind of different formations and personnel groups at Snyder's disposal, and he's still looking at each one to figure out how it's going to work.

One thing that has impressed me is the amount of team speed A&M now has on defense. On his tackles of Malena (he blew up both option plays), Baggs cut through the line, took a great angle and got to Ben before he could really get going upfield. Sanders and Askew are also really fast, and we know what Jenkins can do. Darian Claiborne has impressed with his speed too. The secondary is as fast as it's been in a while too.

I wouldn't read a whole lot into the first team's struggles to score in short yardage situations. Remember, the ultimate weapon -- Johnny Manziel's feet -- aren't getting used. He could have scored on the pass he threw to Evans without trouble.

When Carson, Hicks and Clear are on the field together, that's a whole lot of bulk in there.

Very surprised not to see Alex Sezer not returning kicks today. Outside of Trey, he was easily the most explosive returner this spring. Maybe he has a bigger role in store?

Missed extra points. Ugh.


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