The Texas Aggie football team took to the practice fields Monday night for a spirited two hour workout in shorts and helmets. The offense got the fall season going in style. On the first play from scrimmage in 11-on-11 drills, senior Jerrod Johnson hit veteran receiver Terrence McCoy in stride down the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown strike that set the tone in the first hour. However, defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter and the Aggie defense finished the inaugural practice with several forced turnovers and an interception return for a touchdown by second team cornerback Lionel Smith on the last play of practice to gain the upper-hand.
The message from DeRuyter was clear in his first fall workout – pursue the ball and create turnovers. The defensive staff emphasized standing up receivers and running backs and stripping the ball loose before the end of the play. Freshman cornerback Toney Hurd caused two fumbles on strips which prompted DeRuyter to sprint across the field and celebrate with Hurd and the defense. Texas A&M has finished near the bottom of the NCAA in defensive turnovers in recent years, something that the new coach is determined to stop in 2010.
- Jerrod Johnson's new upright throwing motion and quicker release did not affect his overall accuracy. Johnson looked solid throughout practice and rarely missing an open receiver.
- Von Miller started 2010 where he left off in 2009. Miller was in the backfield all day making big plays. He punctuated his dominant performance by sacking Johnson on fourth down of a simulated two minute drill. Afterward, Coach Sherman praised Miller's effort and called it his best and most consistent practice session of his career.
- Freshman cornerback Toney Hurd had the best performance of the day by a newcomer harassing receivers with his physical play and creating several turnovers, much to the delight of DeRuyter. In fact, Hurd worked himself into a few reps with the first team replacing sophomore incumbent Dustin Harris. The cornerback competition will be fierce. Junior Terrence Frederick has one spot nailed down and showed off his prowess against Jeff Fuller on Monday, but the second starting spot will be a dogfight between Harris, Hurd, Lionel Smith, and junior Coryel Judie.
- The heralded freshman offensive line class did not disappoint. Luke Joeckel has already nailed down the left tackle duties, but freshman Jake Matthews is trying to unseat junior Brian Thomas at right tackle. Both looked good in one-on-one drills with the DL, but Matthews' foot speed and balance at this early stage is a clear sign that he will be a contributor as a true freshman. Sherman commented after practice that he was thrilled with the talent and athleticism of the freshman group, but wants to see them in pads before heaping too much praise on the newcomers.
- The Aggies appear to have a deep collection of defensive end talent with veterans like Eddie Brown, Tony Jerod-Eddie, and Spencer Nealy among others looking solid on day one. However, several newcomers like freshmen Ivan Robinson and Gavin Stansbury showed plenty of potential and will add to the depth of the unit. The nose tackle position is a different story. Senior starter Lucas Patterson drew praise often from Coach Sherman in 11-on-11 action, but redshirt freshman Rhontae Scales is still getting acclimated to his switch from offensive tackle to the middle of the defensive line. A&M has very little depth at the position.
- Coach Sherman mentioned after practice that the team expects JUCO defensive end Jonathan Mathis to participate in Tuesday's workout.
Most impressive veterans
1) Von Miller - wow, just when you thought he couldn't get better. Sherman said afterward that this was the best practice of his career form start to finish.
2) Ryan Swope - this kid catches EVERYTHING and he's also fast. He'll be the leading receiver on the team in terms of catches.
3) Jerrod Johnson - I liked his new motion and his release is quicker...more importantly he's still pretty accurate. On the first play from scrimmage in 11-on-11's, he hit Terrence McCoy in stride on a fly for a 60+ yard TD pass.
4) Sean Porter - I wasn't sold on this kid last year. I am now.
5) Terrence Frederick - for my money, he's been the most underrated player on the team for two years now. He had great position against Fuller on several long balls.
6) Evan Eike - He had a very solid first day at guard.
Most impressive newcomers
1) Toney Hurd - kid has attitude and makes plays. caused two straight fumbles on strips and I thought DeRuyter was gonna carry the guy off on his shoulders. He was everywhere and plays with a ton of confidence for a fish. Harris better step it up.
2) Jake Matthews - just like his father. Man, this kid is quick and has great balance.
3) Nate Askew - people say he's a Fuller clone, but he's thicker than Fuller was as a freshman...and most importantly, he's quicker off the line of scrimmage.
4) Ivan Robinson - I had a hard time here, because I felt all of the Louisiana DL newcomers showed plenty of promise, but Ivan broke up a few plays and had an attitude about him that stuck out on day one.
5) Demontrae Moore - his length is deceptive. He's quicker than you think and beat his man (2nd team OL - Ogbuehi) several times to the QB, but received cat calls and a bunch of praise from Von MIller when he dropped into coverage and had a nice pick.
6) Jarvis Harrison - he could be the steal of this class. He's big and athletic. I've never seen a human with such big ankles and calves. His lower half looks like an elephant, but he's got some quicks to him.
Hop's Camp Report and Analysis - Day One
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