The Texas A&M football team will participate in the Maroon & White Game on Saturday to conclude spring practice. Although nothing really counts until the fall, there are numerous players and positions that Aggie fans should keep their eyes on.
The Aggies lost 11 starters from the 2012 squad. They began the process of replacing those players during spring practice. The spring game will offer fans an opportunity to gauge how far the team has progressed in this area.
The Aggies featured the best offense in college football in 2012 along with a defense that made big plays when they were needed. In 2013, they should have more depth on both sides of the ball than they did in 2012, but it remains to be seen who will step up to make the big plays.
The spring game will help give the coaches and fans an idea of who they can count on to step up and be leaders in 2013. This is a look at what fans should focus on at the spring game on Saturday.
Texas A&M's quarterback really developed as a passer during the second half of the 2012 season. His ability to read the defense and find the open man was an important component of the Aggies' winning streak to end the season.
Manziel has thrown five interceptions during the first two scrimmages of the spring, according to the statistics provided by Gabe Bock. Obviously, that it is unacceptable to turn the ball over that often.
The coaches may be requiring Manziel to stay in the pocket and not scramble as much. That could be contributing to some of the turnovers.
Fans should keep an eye on Manziel to see what kind of decisions he is making. It may simply be a case of the defense getting their hands on a bunch of passes and tipping them in the air. If Manziel is making poor decisions with the ball, that does not bode well for 2013.
A big part of the Aggies' success in 2013 will rely on how well the offensive line plays. The Aggies had the best offensive line in the country in 2012.
They lost Luke Joeckel and Patrick Lewis from that unit during the offseason. Joeckel has been replaced by Jake Matthews, who is moving from right tackle to left tackle. Former right guard Cedric Ogbuehi has moved over to right tackle.
Jake's younger brother, Mike Matthews, has taken over at center for the departed Lewis. Redshirt freshman Germain Ifedi appears to have taken over right guard, which was vacated by Ogbuehi.
If the 2013 version of the offensive line can jell together, then the Aggies will once again have an explosive offense. If they struggle, then it will not matter who the Aggies line up in the skill positions. The offense will only be as good as the offensive line in front of them.
Mike Evans was one of the best receivers in the Southeastern Conference in 2012 with 82 receptions for 1,105 yards. The question for the 2013 season is whether or not Evans can take the next step from a very good receiver to a player who can take over a game?
The coaches have moved Evans around from outside receiver into the slot during this spring. This is because the slot receivers have been injured, and it's also a chance to get him a look at new positions. Evans excelled in the first scrimmage with over 200 yards receiving.
Aggie fans know that Evans is capable of making big plays in big games. Now they want to know if he is the type of player who can put a team on his back and lead them to victory every Saturday. His performance in the spring game may be some kind of indication of where he is at in his progression as a football player.
Floyd Raven made the switch from cornerback to free safety this spring. The switch has proven to be a success so far as Raven has hauled in two interceptions in the Aggies' two scrimmages.
At 6'2"and 190 pounds, Raven has the ideal size for an NFL safety. If he can grow into a quality safety in the SEC, then he should be able to play on Sundays. Raven has the speed to be an effective cover-corner and the size to play safety.
He has been one of the Aggies' most physical defenders in the secondary for the past two years. Raven is an excellent tackler against the run. If he can keep play within the scheme at safety and continue his physical play against the run, then he should be an All-SEC caliber player.
He has the kind of athletic ability to be a game-changer for the defense in the secondary.
Expect the battle for the backup spot to extend into the fall, much like the battle for the starting spot did in 2012. Davis is more mobile than Joeckel but is not as polished in the passing game.
If Davis can develop as a passer, he will likely leapfrog Joeckel because he offers the coaches more versatility at the position. Aggie fans should keep an eye on Davis to see how he has developed as a passer.
If he struggles to be consistent through the air, then the coaches may look to move him to another position in an attempt to get him on the field.