Six Storylines to Watch for Friday

Tonight is the highly anticipated Friday Night Lights scrimmage that will showcase the current team's progress this spring and will highlight newcomers at WR, DL, and LB. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop discusses the six major storylines to follow at tonight's event.

Here are the six big storylines to watch from tonight'S Friday Night Lights scrimmage that I will be watching:

1. Not that I have any concerns or issues, but when chasing storylines the first thing you do is make sure your Heisman Trophy winner looks as good or better than last year. Again, while I expect to see plenty of fireworks from Johnny Manziel in the passing game, a scrimmage is not the ideal platform to show off his scrambling skills and that's what makes him special. Still, I'll be paying attention to his downhill throws and especially his medium out-patterns to the sideline. I want to see that his arm is maturing and getting stronger. Otherwise, I think what we'll see from him is pretty predictable…as in plenty of playmaking and TD's. I think you'll see him clean up the INT's tonight.


2. I know most observers will say the performance of the DL is a huge storyline tonight, and I disagree to some extent. Sure, it would be a big deal if Alonzo Williams, Nate Askew, the Taylor brothers, or Brandon Alexander had a big night. But frankly, I'm not expecting a lot from the group because the OL is so far ahead of the DL group right now. Plus, while several of these guys will be needed to step up and contribute, the bottom line here is that the success of the 2013 DL will depend greatly on the true freshmen who are not on campus and senior Kirby Ennis is not participating. Thus, what you'll see tonight won't be close to what you see in September. Sure, I'll keep my eyes open to a breakout performance that will help, but I'm not going to lose sleep if the DL doesn't shine. In addition, the staff can use what happens tonight to sell prized DE recruit Myles Garrett who will be there.


3. One of the biggest storylines of tonight is the play of the receiver corps after you get past Mike Evans who will be excellent tonight…trust me on this one folks. Going into the spring I didn't have much of a concern for this position and I still don't. Well, if a Derel Walker, Jaquay Williams, or Ed Pope doesn't step up and have a good night, then I might start slightly worrying about the position. This offense runs on wide receivers, and with Malcolme Kennedy out this spring and the loss of four senior pass catchers, the numbers are down. I've been waiting for the light bulb to go off with Jaquay, and when it does, watch out. He's the most naturally-gifted receiver on the roster. Derel Walker has draftable measurable, but we need to see more consistency out of him. And finally, is Ed Pope physical enough to play in the SEC? If any one of those three questions are answered tonight, I'll be relieved knowing that the receiver group should be fine. If all three struggle or inconsistent, then the staff has a lot of work done between now and early September because Mike Evans can't do it alone.


4. Another big storyline will be the play of the linebackers, especially with the unit losing senior playmakers Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart. Unlike the DL, the LB position did get three newcomers in for the spring session so most of next year's help (although I think Darian Claiborne can make immediate noise in August) is already on the roster. Early returns on Tommy Sanders, Brett Wade, and Reggie Chevis are very positive. I've been most pleasantly surprised with the unheralded Wade who has a nice motor and seems to be a fast learner. But I want to see these guys in live action tonight, and some red flags will emerge if the newcomers don't show well tonight. I think they will, but the proof is in the pudding and it starts tonight.


5. Floyd Raven….he's been a big hit early in spring drills, and the limited amount of time we've seen the team at work, he certainly looks the part at safety and seems to bring a positive energy to the secondary. Most importantly, he's been making plays. Then again, the physical aspects of the game has never been Floyd's issue. It's been his decision-making on the field. So I know he'll make some nice plays tonight, but I'll be looking to see if he has any missed assignments. In the first scrimmage, Howard Matthews had several big plays in run support and even in coverage that got plenty of positive coverage from the websites, but he also had a big assignment blunder that left Evans wide open for a 50 yard TD. To me, that one blunder erases all of the good plays because the mistake was so costly. So that's what I'm going to be watching out of raven…and Matthews as well. If Raven plays clean, he'll be the talk of the scrimmage because he WILL make some very nice plays.


6. The last big storyline for me will be the performance of the second unit offensive line. First, A&M has been VERY fortunate at OL with regard to injuries over the past couple of years, so depth has not been an issue. But going into the season, a good offense needs a solid rotation of nine that the staff can rely on throughout the season. Right now, I think the Aggies can say they have seven. The five first teamers plus Ben Compton and Shep Klinke. I'll be especially paying attention to the second team tackles, Jeremiah Stuckey and Joseph Cheek. If either Matthews or Ogbuehi go down at some point, these guys will be thrown into the fire and they must be ready to go if A&M hopes to make a big run in 2013.

Aggie Digest Top Stories