Day 1 InThe Books: Coaches&Players Audio

The first day of fall practice 2009 is in the books for the Aggies. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop and Taylor Hamm were on hand and bring you the first of 24 practice reports along with audio interviews with Coach Sherman and Cyrus Gray...View the practice reports and audio in the Tailgate!

Coach Sherman

Cyrus Gray

First of all, it was the first practice and it was in shorts and helmets. So there is only so much you can take from it. In fact, on day one I usually focus on looking at most of the newcomers and taking stock in their physical stature and overall athletic ability. Basically, do they pass the eyeball test in the limited drills and scrimmaging on fay one. I also like to eyeball the veterans to see who came ready to play and who didn't.

Now, the eyeball report is a little dull this year because there's not much to report. There weren't any fat guys out there. Some of the fish were skinny, but really I've never seen a team of 105 at A&M be in as good (or consistent) shape as this team is. Not saying that there were players that just stuck out like Superman, but everybody just seemed to be generally in good football shape.

Usually on day one you can pick out 5-6 veterans and 7-8 freshmen and say "they need to get in better shape." Maybe, maybe I could say that about 1-2 players today. For example, Rod Davis came in last year and was 30 pounds overweight and wasn't very sharp. Today, Davis was in much better playing shape and it was reflected in his play which was much quicker and better.

With that said, let's get into more specifics. I focused the most on the OL and DL in drills today, and then watching several 11-on-11 sessions.

The OL:

1st unit: Patterson, Allen, Matthews, Shumard, Grimes

2nd unit: Scales, Thomas, Baker, Eike, Barrera

3rd unit: walk-on, Ayers, Lewis, Villaviscensio, Hyde

The first unit looked solid. No surprises and Coach Turner seemed satisfied for the most part. For me personally, the biggest news of the day was the impressive frame and athletic ability from left tackle Rhontae Scales and right tackle Stephen Barrera. Of all the freshmen I observed, I was most impressed with Scales. He has a great frame and he's in pretty good shape. But more importantly, in drills he has niice footwork and is an impressive athlet overall. Barrera also passed the eyeball test on day one with flying colors.

Now, before we proclaim Scales the left tackle savior, let's see him in pads and in some live action...but he did look good in his practice debut.

But for argument's sake, if Scales and Barrera indeed back up their look today with strong play and they develop quickly, then A&M will suddenly have a decent (still not great) line with decent depth.

The DL:

1st unit: Moss, Brown, Jerod-Eddie, Miller

2nd unit: C. Williams, Dorsey, Davis, Featherston

3rd unit: KJ Williams, Lathrop/Wolridge, Ennis/Nealy, Arterburn/Weaver

I was extremely impressed with the quickness and athleticism of the DL as a whole. We knew Brown and Jerod-Eddie had a high motor and were pretty quick, but you can add Adren Dorsey and Rod Davis to the list. The biggest improvement comes from Davis who was significantly overweight and sluggish this time last year, but this year he's in good shape and the athletic ability that made him a 4-star as a recruit was on display. Both Davis and Brown may not be prototypical DL's in terms of length, but they make up for it with quickness. Add in Kirby Ennis who really surprised me with his size and athletic ability and a well-developed and cut Wolridge and I think the Ags may just be fine on the interior. I also think they will be fine at the Jack with Von Miller who is probably the most impressive DL off the bunch. He's, also a leader out there working a lot with Andrew Weaver on his technique between drills. Weaver passed the eyeball test, but it's simply too early to know how he and Arterburn will develop at the position. BUt with Featherston as well, I think the Jack is in good hands.

The one area of concern is the left end spot. Matt Moss is an average athlete, but he was proabbly the best technician during the drills receiving praise from Coach Wyatt on every rep. He'll be a solid presence at the end spot, but after that is anyone's guess with Cody Williams and KJ Williams working at the position. KJ Williams needs to fill out a little more as he still has a big receiver's body type while Cody Williams just needs to get better. If Moss goes down, the DL will have a big hole to fill.

Other general observations:

I observed the freshmen WR's on a limited basis, and from what little I saw, I was most impressed with Uzoma Nwachukwu and his acceleeration off the line and on his breaks. I also felt Kenric McNeal was a long, smooth athlete who caught a lot of balls tonight. Swope and Jackson did some nice things, but from what I saw Uzoma and McNeal seemed to shine a little more...but again, I focused most of my time on the OL and DL so don't take too much from that observation.

I watched some 11-on-11's and some quick notes by position:

1) QB

The offense worked a lot on swing passes to RB's and Johnson missed that throw several times. JOhnson was better on the intermediate and deep balls. I didn't see Tannehill or Dorman much because they were working on the other side of the field with the 2's and 3's. I'll focus on the QB's tomorrow.

2) RB

Wow...again, no tackling and no pads so take with a grain of salt, but the RB's ran much harder than last year and it could be that |Christine MIchael came in and started running like a wild boar today. Man, he runs hard and he's fast. He turned the corner on the defense a couple of times and he popped through holes with amazing speed and quickness. I also felt Cyrus Gray ran with a lot more aggressiveness and confidence. This will be a great battle in August.

3) WR

Receivers were sluggish early, dropping numerous passes but they came on strong late in the session led by Howard Morrow who made several great catches. With that said, I think Terrence McCoy was ther most consistent of the group. Mc|Coy, Morrow, and Fuller were the starters in three WR sets.

4) DB's

I thought the starters started where they left off in the spring. They aren't spectacular but they know their assignments and force the offense to make good plays. I thought Frederick especially had a good night. Nobody talks about him much, but everytime you watch him he has perfect inside position on his man and knocks the ball away. On one of the few plays where he got beat by a step, it appeared that Morrow was going to catch a long TD pass, but as the ball was coming in, Frederick times his slap perrfectly and hit the ball out of Morrows hands for a great save. McQueen also had a nice day, and I still say that if/when Judie comes to camp that he won't be handed the starting CB job.

Howard Morrow- Had the best day out there...He had two spectacular diving catches...One was cutting across the middle of the field and he laid out for it...It was great to see him sacrifice his body in practice to earn a spot...I hope to keep reporting plays like I saw today

Tommy Dorman- Quickest 3 step drop out of the QB's...His release is also the quickest and he was putting some serious zip on the ball...Throwing it so hard guys like Fuller were dropping passes...Tommy still needs to get better at his decision making during full speed drills...I will be curious to see if the "new Tommy Dorman" will emerge

Christine Michael- at 5-11 206 the kid runs like he is on a misson every drill and practice run...He will blow throw the line pumping his arms and high kneeing...The "angry runner" type is a perfect label

Tannehill- Doesn't throw the deep ball like Jerrod and to tell you the truth he would of gotten lost in the midst of backup QB's out there today...He mainly worked with the young guys (Jackson, McNeal, and Uzoma)...Got a lot of throws in but he wasn't as sharp as I would of liked to see

Matt Moss- Blew threw the line on regularity and actually got an ear full from Kines for putting his hands on Jerrod...He is going to compliment Von extremely well

Nick Trice- Dropped quite a few balls out there today...I think he has potential to be a player with his 6-2, 204lbs frame but he has to hold on to the ball

Uzoma- Reminds me of a little Morrow out there...You wouldn't be able to figure which one was which without the names on the back of their jerseys...He came out of his breaks very well and caught everything I saw thrown to him

Fuller- Had an off day but nothing to worry about

One of the coaches mentioned that we might only take 22 but that is not 100%...But it is something to look out for

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