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August 18, 2013

The good and bad of Saturday's scrimmage

Here's a look at some of the important players in Saturday night's scrimmage:

-Johnny Manziel was his usual self tonight. He seems to favor Malcolm Kennedy on the inside much like he did Ryan Swope last year, hitting him for two touchdowns in red zone situations. People question his arm strength but on those two passes he just really whipped his body around into the throws. He didn't do much running around and that's okay because we all know what he can do in that regard.

-Matt Davis had the least effective night of the quarterbacks. He worked all summer on his mechanics and early in camp he seemed like that he had solved those issues before the team got into pads. In addition, it seemed like that he had a better understanding of the progressions within the offense. However, the problem with a guy like Davis is when he starts getting pressured, he reverts back to his old form. As a result, it's evident why got only about six snaps tonight and why he hasn't been seen as much as Matt Joeckel and Kenny Hill during the media portions since the pads came on.

-Referencing Joeckel, he and Travis Labhart picked on Victor Davis on one drive for three good plays which eventually resulted in a touchdown. However, there's times when Joeckel doesn't transfer his weight from his back foot to his front foot and the ball sails high on him.

-Freshman Kenny Hill played almost as much as Joeckel and led the first team to a couple of scores. Hill has come on since the pads are on because he has great vision, great pocket presence, great footwork, and a compact delivery. He just doesn't panic when things start to break down and while he may not make a play, he doesn't turn it over. When he was under pressure he either took a sack or threw the ball away. He had one play where he rolled left away from pressure on the goal line, set his feet, and delivered a TD pass to a receiver in the back of the end zone. He's got a better arm than Joeckel and although he may not be there yet, he's eventually going to pass him up on the depth chart.

-Trey Williams dropped a pitch on a speed option to the short side of the field that the defense was waiting on. However, Williams had one of those runs where he went up the middle, got into traffic, and made a cut without losing any speed and went in for the touchdown.

-Tra Carson is finally looking like the short yardage back that everyone thought he would be. He ran with power and has finally learned to lower his shoulder and initiate contact. He ran over Nate Askew in the red zone on one block and also blocked in pass pro.

-Mike Evans has a real knack for being able to read a defense on the go and settle down into the soft spots within a zone on in front of a defender. He didn't really outmuscle anyone tonight as A&M's defense was deep conscious and didn't press him much.

-We saw why Malcolme Kennedy is on track to replace Ryan Swope on the inside. He can catch the ball with someone all over him and gets pretty good separation with his footwork. He's learned to look the ball in his hands and had no drops tonight.

-Tight ends Cameron Clear and Nehemiah Hicks didn't see much action. They were used some in short yardage situations and as upbacks in the diamond formation. Clear seems to have lost some weight and is moving better than he did in the spring.

-Among the freshmen, Quiv Gonzalez lined up on the outside, caught a hitch along the far sideline early on, put a move on Tavares Garner, and motored down the sidelines for a big gain that enabled A&M's offense to score its first touchdown of the scrimmage. Ricky Seals Jones caught a couple of passes and used his height to snag an overthrow. Interestingly enough, the guy looks like a natural receiver despite his lack of experience at the position. He's learning to work on getting separation but he has good hand/eye coordination and looks the ball into his hands like should. Kyrion Parker worked on the outside and got great separation due to his footwork on a curl route in the red zone. It enabled him to catch the ball inside the five from Hill and dive across the goal line for a touchdown.

-The first team offensive did very well in pass pro. Jake Matthews got beat a couple of time by Tyrone Taylor but otherwise quarterbacks operated with the knowledge that Matthews and Ced Ogbuehi weren't going to let anyone around them. They are just really good with their feet and hands. Germain Ifedi and Jarvis Harrison are just beasts. It's just so hard for someone to get much push with them. Mike Matthews keeps the offensive tempo up and does his job…no bad snaps, one or two penalties, no negative plays.

-The second team offensive line…here's something for you.
There's a guy who's been much maligned since he arrived on campus in January and that's backup left tackle Jeremiah Stuckey. He did a more than adequate job working against freshman Daeshon Hall and sophomore Brandon Alexander. He's improved getting his hands up as well as his footwork from the spring and was more than adequate tonight. He may never be a guy who starts at A&M but he may be working his way into being an adequate backup. Joseph Cheek did well too as did Ben Compton. Guard play was less than stellar sometimes. Garrett Gramling and Shep Klinke could be physically dominant working against freshman but also gave ground a few times.

-The first team defensive line included the Taylor brothers at end along with Alonzo Williams and Kirby Ennis at tackle. Williams got good push occasionally and Ennis is hard to move. In addition, he's more mobile than you would assume and made plays up and down the line of scrimmage. He also stays low and gets leverage on people so he is hard to move.

-The second team defensive line included the three freshman tackles….Isaiah Golden, Justin Manning, Hardreck Walker…as well as freshman defensive end Daeshon Hall. However, sophomore Brandon Alexander really needs to step up his intensity. He got pushed around a lot because he didn't use his hands very well.

-All of the freshmen tackles had their moments…Manning got penetration and forced a tackle for loss, Golden adjusted after something of a rough first possession and started using his hands to get better push, and Walker had the best first step. Physically, they can get pushed around when they don't get their hands up but when they do they can hold their own.

-Hall still needs to add weight but had his moments. He doesn't overrun plays and stays in his gap when the play goes away from him so he's not susceptible to counters. He can use his long arms to get separation and disengage from blockers and also drag runners down. He runs plays away from him down the line of scrimmage. He's going to play some this year and if he continues to improve his hands he's going to play more and more.

-Donnie Baggs was all over the place as was Steven Jenkins. Both understand how to stay parallel to the line of scrimmage and not to get caught up in traffic but also recognize where plays are going and how to attack those gaps. They also are physical and step up into holes to meet people. Tommie Sanders may be a little more physical at this point than Nate Askew when it comes to the run defense. Askew is really good in coverage but has to learn to step up attack ball carriers. Sanders had a fumble return for a touchdown and can run. Darian Claiborne also had a really nice night.

-Freshman Alex Sezar started in place of the injured Deshazor Everett and held his own. He didn't give up any big plays and even was adept at switching on and off on receivers that came in and out of his zone. Clay Hunnicutt had a nice pass breakup on a crossing route. Freshman safety Jonathan Wiggins was very good with the second team. He's got good range due to his size and broke up a couple of passes. His reaction times were very good and he didn't let anyone get behind him. Other than Gonzalez' big play, freshman corners Noel Ellis and Tavares Garner kept people in front of them and proved that they could turn and run with people. Victor Davis struggled but got picked on because he was the corner on the short side of the field when Matt Joeckel was out there and it was easier for Matt Joeckel to make those throws to the boundary than to the field.

-Drew Kaser blasted multiple punts 50 plus yards. At one point, he was rugby/directional punting from inside his own red zone and drove Sebastian Larue back to the 25 on one punt and inside the 20 on another. The Aggies missed three consecutive field goals at one point. However, the coverage units reflected how much more athletic and well conditioned A&M is than in the past. The units stayed in their lanes but most importantly got downfield quickly and kept returns to a minimum for the most part.

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