Friday Night Lights Scrimmage Report

The Texas Aggie football team scrimmaged on Kyle Field in the inaugural Friday Night Lights event that caters to some of the top high school prospects in the 2013 and 2014 classes. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop files this detailed report on the scrimmage and the top performers of the evening.

Offense

Overall, Jameill Showers took a majority of snaps with the first team offense and had some early success completing 10-of-14 in his first six possessions. He had three completions for over 20 yards including a beautiful 40-yard strike to Mike Evans down the sideline draped by Floyd Raven. Showers looked comfortable in the up-tempo in those first few series, but then Coach Snyder started bringing multiple blitz packages and all of the QB's struggled from that point forward. In his last five series, Showers completed only 4-of-11 and did not complete a pass over 10 yards.

Johnny Manziel had his moments, like the 75-yard screen and run by Ryan Swope (although that was more Swope than Manziel), but he still struggles when he gets in trouble and throws off his back foot. He simply doesn't have the arm strength to throw the ball away or go over the top so the defenders are always cheating up and breaking on the routes. If the play runs as planned and he has the time to step into his throws, he's fine. But with any pressure, his limitations are exposed.

Matt Joeckel also has troubles with pass pressure. His issue is foot speed and a longer release which results in a few sacks on blitzes...and the defense constantly blitzed the second half of the scrimmage. Matt Davis isn't ready mentally. He's still trying to find his reads and he's a bit slow on his progressions, but when he does find his target, he throws a very nice ball and it's accurate. He completed 4-of-5 passes including a 15 and 20 yard strike to Gaston Lamascus. He likely won't be ready this season, but he has the tools to be special down the road. He showed off some incredible moves in a couple of scrambles.

At running back, Brandon Williams keeps showing why he's a special player. Aside from taking the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, he also shot out of a cannon and darted 60+ yards for a touchdown early in the scrimmage against the first team. He also scored a touchdown in the red zone with some tough running between the tackles. Ben Malena had a couple of nice 8-10 yard runs and caught a few passes for decent yardage. He will be a nice role player in this offense.

At receiver, I'm becoming more and more impressed with Mike Evans. In fact, he may be the starting outside receiver before it's all said and done. For the second scrimmage in a row, Evans flashed nice speed for his size and burning Floyd Raven over the top on a 40-yard fade route. He's also catching balls on different routes and he's solid. My favorite play and what won him the top spot in my top performers was on a drag route across the middle. The throw was a beat late and you could see the blind shot coming when Evans caught the ball and as he turned upfield at full speed, and Toney Hurd laid the big hit. I was expecting Evans to cough it up, but instead, he made the catch, Hurd bounced off him, and Evans continued up the field unfazed gaining a few more yards. Hurd had to be helped off the field with his head spinning. Evans hopped up and was ready for the next play. Evans has shown speed, toughness, reliable hands, and the ability t get open in a variety of routes. I think he's clearly he success story of the offense so far.

Ryan Swope looked sharp on Friday and he flashed incredible acceleration and speed on the 75-yard screen pass. If he stays healthy, Swope will again lead the team in catches and receiving yardage. Kenric McNeal and Malcolme Kennedy had decent performances. Uzoma Nwachukwu struggled Friday night as did LaKendrick Williams who drops too many balls. Nate Askew is inconsistent. He'd be a lot better if he knew how to use his big body to shield off and push off defenders. He doesn't hide it. He uses his hands to blatantly push off and he'll have that called on him every time in live action. The key for these big guys is to learn to separate and "push off" without making it look so blatant. If he can manage that art, he can be effective in the red zone.


Defense

Overall, I liked what I saw from the defense. They played with energy and explosion, and they played with an attitude. The defensive sideline was bouncing with energy all night, and it helped when Coach Snyder turned on the linebacker blitzes which were again successful. The offense simply has no answer for pressure coming off the edge from Steven Jenkins and Donnie Baggs.

Also, the defense utilized a three-man front a lot more tonight going with a nickel package. They also employed the 4-2-5 with the mike LB on the sideline. It was effective against this offense. I'm just curious how they plan to practice against traditional offenses that they will face in the fall. They didn't use the base 4-3 as much as I was expecting, and not as much as the first scrimmage. The changing schemes slowed down Showers in the second half of the scrimmage.

Spencer Nealy looks like a goof sometimes. He runs around like a chicken with its head cut off...but it works for him. The guy simply makes plays. It was funny on one play where he bumped into Showers on a sack and lightly knocked him to the ground. Sumlin jumped all over him and told him to get off the field. About halfway off, he turns around and tries to sneak back into the defensive lineup but Snyder yanks him out. The kid is a ball of energy and he's relentless.

Speaking of attitude, Steven "Duece" Jenkins is a completely different player from last season, which happens with JUCO's in year two. He is a terror off the edge on blitzes, and when he makes a hit he tries to rip their heads off and body slam the ball carrier. Donnie Baggs continues to bring pressure off the edge on linebacker blitzes and he makes plays near the line of scrimmage sideline-to-sideline.

Deshazor Everett doesn't give up much in the secondary. Floyd Raven is very aggressive and flipped a receiver on a vicious hit, but the aggressiveness means he gets burned a couple of times a game like the 40-yarder to Evans. I liked some of things I saw from Tremaine Jacobs. Askew really took advantage of Jacobs with his size pushing off and making the catch in the first scrimmage. Jacobs played much tougher and was physical with Askew this time around. Again, I like the overall performance and depth at the corner position. I thought Howard Matthews and even Johntel Franklin had a solid scrimmage. Matthews got his second interception in a scrimmage this spring. Franklin made some nice plays in run support.

The defense definitely made the most noise on Friday.


Special Teams

Drew Kaser hit a couple of 60-yard lasers in the punt game while Ryan Epperson had several poor efforts around one boomer. I would be surprised if Kaser didn't come out of spring with the starting job.

While Taylor Bertolet missed his first field goal attempt of both scrimmages, he's still the hands down future starter. He gets good lift and has excellent range to 50-55 yards without any problems.

Here are my top 10 performers of Friday's scrimmage:

1. Mike Evans
2. Brandon Williams
3. Steven Jenkins
4. Spencer Nealy
5. Ryan Swope
6. Donnie Baggs
7. Jameill Showers
8. Drew Kaser
9. Tremaine Jacobs
10. Matt Davis
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