Notes From Spring Practice

The Texas Aggie football team put on pads for the first time this spring as the Kevin Sumlin era continues in its first week at the grass practice fields. While full practices are closed to the public, Aggie Websider's David Sandhop does have access to the first 20 minutes of practice and provides these insights and notes.

First of all, color me "sold" on Brandon Williams. In the first 11-on-11 live action that we were allowed to observe, Williams had a couple of nice runs, and on one attempt made a couple of defenders miss and got into the secondary. He is an unconventional RB mainly because he has the body type of a receiver (long and slender) versus short and stocky. In fact, he's looked good in the passing drills and I can see him splitting outside at times.

But what I like so much about Williams is his energy. He wears his emotion on his sleeve and gets excited after a big play. After his big run in the 11-on-11's and the drill ended, he was bouncing around and found Matt Davis for a chest bump (or whatever it's called these days). When Williams is out there, his energy is infectious. There's no question that if he gets a waiver, he'll be a major component at RB.

If there was any question what Sumlin and Kingsbury is going to do with this offense after three practices, we can quickly put that to rest. This is Mike Leach stuff at Texas Tech. This is Case Keenum and the Coogs. There is no indication that the staff plans to make changes to the offense and run some kind of a hybrid offense that was speculated when Sumlin took the job.

From the first moment of the first practice, the theme is tempo. Go fast and faster. The practices are a flurry of activity, especially with the QB's and WR's. That was hit home in the first live 11-on-11 drill on Tuesday when Johnny Manziel ran the first unit offense and Matt Davis ran the 2nd team offense. It was like a Chinese fire drill. After a completion, everybody races up to the line of scrimmage and keeps going and going. It was like a two minute drill on steroids. Surprisingly, Davis did a pretty good job taking command and leading his unit through the live drill. Manziel had an impressive completion to Mike Evans in the seam about 20 yards downfield.

The other clue to what the offense is doing comes from watching the OL, and they are working on those wide splits that Leach's OL's at Tech utilized all the time. The OL's are focused completely on passing sets and you don't see much drive blocking at all. Also, Coach Anderson isn't the in-your-face OL coach like Coach Turner was, and it was interesting that Luke Joeckel mentioned that after practice and said he liked the less aggressive approach of Coach Anderson.

On the DL, Kirby Ennis is huge in terms of thickness. He looks like a pure nose guard and I think he has sacrificed some quickness and mobility but that may be the plan. They need wide bodies along the interior. In terms of overall physical package, I think Shayvion Hatten is physically the most impressive. He has the biggest frame of any DL, and I like his explosion and mobility for his size. I have to watch him in live action, but he has the potential to be as good as anybody in this unit.

I also focused more time at linebacker, and I'll admit that I under-estimated the changes with Jonathan Stewart and Sean Porter. Those guys are definitely bigger and more muscular. I don;t know if J-Stew will be the playmaker A&M needs in the middle, but there's no question he has SEC size and mass. With guys like J-Stew, Porter, Jenkins, and Baggs looking the part physically, I'm cautiously optimistic that A&M can find some adequate LB's for SEC competition.

Actually, and I'm surprised to say this, it's the offensive line that I have a few concerns about in terms of depth. Running with the second team were tackles Joseph Cheek and Nate Gutekunst and I'm just not sure if they will be ready for SEC prime time if A&M sustains a couple of injuries at the tackle position. Yeah, they can shift Ogbuehi over to tackle if needed, but that will cause the guard position t be stretched. It's by no means a huge concern. There is talent and there is some depth, but the position isn't loaded like we thought it would be with Brian Thomas. Losing him will hurt flexibility to move some bodies around if the injury bug hits.

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