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July 10, 2014

AggieYell Mailbag

Here's this week's edition of the AggieYell Mailbag:

Q: What should we look forward to for the runup to the start of football camp? More commits? Position shuffling? (CHUCK70)

A: We may see another commit or two -- James Lockhart, for instance, has set his commit date for Aug. 1 -- but I really doubt you'll see much, if any, position shuffling. That stuff takes place in the spring. The only move I can see possibly happening is Garrett Gramling getting in on the right guard competition now that Jarvis Harrison has returned, but that's about it.

Q: 1. Whom is likely to be holder on PATs and field goals?
2. Do you think Garrett starts first series against So. Carolina?
3. How soon do you think Watts sees the field and, if so, where?
4. Is clear really going to get more balls this year? If not, why would a good TE look at us? (gangtackle)

1. Connor McQueen
2. Yes
3. It will be at corner, but it depends on the maturation of guys like Victor Davis and Tavares Garner.
4. He should; that's the idea. Other tight ends that A&M's looking at are more in the Jordan Davis mold in that they're not as big as clear and can be used as slot receivers.

Q: What's the back story on Kyler having Christian and Kirk Merritt on his team? Do you think that will accelerate their decision making process? (Richard23)

A: From the looks of things, it was just dumb luck and the way Nike arranged things at The Opening. As for speeding things up, I don't know, but it certainly helps A&M's cause as both guys will get the chance to catch passes from the guy who would be throwing to them for several years. It would certainly help Merritt and Kirk get a better sense of who they'd be working with if they chose the Aggies, and that's a huge positive.

Q: Last year in January @ February we did not get the commits we were hoping for. Do you think we are on the same trail now as we were then? (aechapajr)

A: I don't agree with your statement, for starters. With around a month of signing day, A&M picked up Zaycoven Henderson, Frank Iheanacho, Speedy Noil and Otaro Alaka, then got Donovan Wilson very late in the game. They missed out on some safety prospects, yes, but largely they got who they wanted. To boot, if A&M doesn't have a total disaster of a season, this class is led by some strong personalities in Daylon Mack and Kyler Murray. Those two, along with the idea that the Aggies are getting close to becoming a team that can compete for a national championship, should be enough to keep this class intact and continue to add big names.

Q: Nate Askew was serviceable as a linebacker last year. Who on the roster would be most likely to make a position shift to linebacker this year to add depth? (JCWAgMan)

A: Nobody. Those experiments take place in the spring, not when you're trying to establish your two-deep in the fall.

Q: Does A&M feel confident in getting Boyd, Sheffield and either Elam or Hill?

A: For lack of a long, drawn out answer, yes.

Q: Was Sheffield at the opening or was he still banged. ? If he was, what did he do? (WOSAG)

A: He's there. His injury at the 5-Star Challenge was pretty minor.

Q: I'm encouraged by the improved depth in our interior DL and what should be a better pass-rush given Dae Dae's growth and the addition of Superman Myles Garrett. I also have a strong hunch why the secondary performed so poorly last season was that Marcel Yates was "checked-out", knowing full-well he was heading back to Boise State-- rumblings suggest that our secondary players are responding well to Terry Joseph, and perhaps all they needed was the new "spark" provided by Joseph.
What concerns me most is MIKE LB, most importantly in terms of leadership and football IQ. What are your thoughts on how well Mastro is progressing in that regard? And heaven forbid, should Mastro go down, how well-equipped is Chevis to step into that role? ([email protected])

A: I don't think Yates was checked out last year, for one thing; Boise had their coach at the time and nobody knew Bryan Harsin would end up back there and take Yates with him. That being said, his techniques and coaching did not work well with A&M's corners and safeties, and there's hope that Terry Joseph will improve matters.

At Mike, Mastrogiovanni had a full spring as a starter and is up to about 245 pounds. He's more confident and seems to have a much better handle on things, but we'll never really know until they start playing. Chevis is a beast against the run and a big hitter, but there remains serious concern about him in the passing game. If he gets that ironed out, he's a player.

Q: Do you see Kirk Merritt's ranking rising due to his performance at The Opening? (Phastman)

A: It won't affect his Rivals ranking because nobody from Rivals is there. He was at the 5-Star Challenge and performed well, though, so he's already got that base covered. We'll see what happens the next time the rankings come out.

Q: Does it really matter who starts at QB against SCAR? Aren't we / shouldn't we just run it the whole game anyways? (Ag4SEC)

A: Unless you want nine men up in the box and stuffing the run, yeah, it matters a whole lot.

Q: Aggies Offense vs South Carolina's Defense? Does the Carolina defense have enough skill and power on D to keep the Aggies from getting 30+ points? Whats your thought on SC D against our offense? (Fullback)

A: Let me get back to you on this one after I see what A&M's really got on offense (as in, who starts at QB, RB and receiver) and do some research on the Gamecocks. I know they've lost a lot in their front seven, but I want to know how good the new starters are.

Q: 1. How much credence do you and the other MODS give to the the Elite 11 type competitions in your evaluations of kids?

2. Could you give odds on A&M landing the kids who are out in Oregon that are considering us? Seems like we have good shots at 3-4 with Kyler, Daylon et al recruiting them as well.

3. Do the A&M coaches have a "board" or spreadsheet on recruits and how far do they go age wise? Specifically, do you think they have say 8th or 9th graders already identified to watch?

4. Do the private schools like Plano Prestonwood Baptist have an advantage over their public rivals like Plano West, Plano, Allen, Southlake? I ask because it seems like Prestonwood Baptist can almost recruit kids with a free private education to play for them. i.e; Mike Mitchell and his brother, Julius Randel, Michael Irvin, Jr. (tsip despiser)

A: 1. For one thing, I'm not a recruiting analyst and don't try to be. When I watch stuff like Elite 11, I'm looking at basic mechanical stuff like footwork, stride and release point. I don't care about the rest. I care about what they do when they're actually playing, whether it's 7-on-7 or the real thing. Kyler Murray wasn't in the top 11 at the Elite 11, but guess whose team is unbeaten as of Thursday afternoon at The Opening? You guessed it.

2. I still like their chances with Sheffield, Malik Jefferson, Christian Kirk and Kirk Merritt.

3. They do, and that's all I'm going to say on that.

4. I suppose in theory they could, but I haven't really seen it translate on the field. 5A public schools, especially, clean house on private schools as a matter of course.

Q: Where do we need to make the most improvement on defense? Where do you think we will see the biggest improvement on defense? (Hurting_10toes)

A: I think the front four is the area that has to improve the most, and I think that it will probably be the area that does improve the most. For one thing, you've got more players at most positions this year that can play. It's not optimal to have a true freshman as a likely starter at nose tackle in Zaycoven Henderson, but he looks like he's not your average true freshman there. Myles Garrett should be an instant impact guy, and there's more depth at defensive end and defensive tackle. Garrett and Daeshon Hall will, hopefully, provide some semblance of a pass rush. They've got to get after the passer and not wear down against the run, and they're starting to be able to do those things -- at least, it appears that way.

Q: We're +14 at SC next month. How much do you agree with that line? Why or why not?

Obviously, most of the guys we're still after can take their time and still have a spot at any school they choose. Are there any commits (and I think RB for sure) where someone we're after could lose their spot if they take too long? (92RAB)

A: I think a +14 line on that game is ridiculous, because there's no way anyone knows what A&M is bringing to the table offensively. It's just a guess.

I don't think any guys are in jeopardy of losing their spot right now among A&M's primary targets now that Lockhart has set his commitment date. The other guys that would be in jeopardy are fallback options.

Q: What percentage do you think the Aggies have in winning the West?

What percentage do you think the Aggies have in making the 4 team play-off? (MR. MAGOO)

A: 10% and 5%, respectively. This team is still a year away. I don't expect them to be .500 or worse, but they're not at their best yet.

Q: Let's talk about long snappers. Who's next? (mmmvegas)

A: Alex Freeman is your man.

Q: What would be your starting goal line defense?
2nd/3rd and long?
I'm curious as to what you think our best alignment/personnel groupings would be in each situation, not so much what you think Snyder and Co. will do. (_TheDON_)

A: My starting goal line defense would be a 6-2. My base would be a 4-3, with Stansbury, Henderson, Ivan Robinson (if he plays; otherwise Alonzo Williams) and Myles Garrett up front, then AJ Hilliard, Jordan Mastrogiovanni and one of Donnie Baggs, Shaan Washington or Tommy Sanders. On 2nd and third and long, I'd have Hall and Garrett as my ends and, if they go to a 3-3-5, Henderson on the nose.

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