The Texas A&M Football team completed its spring season with the Maroon & White Game on April 13. The team put on a good show, but there were enough issues with the Aggies' performance to keep head coach Kevin Sumlin concerned about the immediate future.
The Texas A&M offense was prolific behind sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel, as should be expected. The defense struggled to contain the offense, but for the most part it did a solid job against the run.
The Aggies had a lot of players sit out the spring game due to injury. Five projected starters from the front seven on defense did not play because they were recovering from injuries.
The offense outplayed the defense during the spring game, leaving a lot of question marks about the depth of the defense as the season approaches. Most Aggie fans are expecting Texas A&M to compete for a conference and national title in 2013.
They will not be a championship football team without a championship level defense. This is a look at the biggest concerns facing Sumlin after the Ags' performance during the spring game.
Rising sophomore wide receiver Sabian Holmes was thought of highly enough by the Texas A&M coaches that he did not redshirt in 2012. He played in every single game of his freshman year.
Despite the extensive playing time, Holmes struggled to catch the ball consistently and ended the season with only six receptions for 48 yards.
As a senior at Southlake (TX) Carroll High School, Holmes caught 85 passes for 1,336 yards and 14 touchdowns. As a freshman at A&M he caught about one out of every three balls thrown his way.
Holmes struggles continued during the spring game. He had two drops in the first half, including a play where he failed to continue running on a route where he was wide open.
The Aggies have six freshmen wide receivers arriving on campus in the Fall. Holmes needs to work on consistently catching the ball or he will be passed up in the wide receiver rotation.
The Aggies lost two starters from the 2012 defensive line with the graduation of defensive tackle Spencer Nealy, and Damontre Moore's early entry into the NFL draft. The Texas A&M coaches signed a tremendous group of defensive tackles in the 2013 recruiting class.
The coaches are going to need some of those recruits to play immediately because the Aggies' depth on the defensive line is very poor right now. Jordan Points is an early enrollee who participated in the spring game, and he may see action in the fall.
With expected starters Gavin Standbury, Kirby Ennis, Alonzo Williams and Julien Obioha missing the spring game with injury, the first-team defensive line was basically the Ags' second team line.
The interior linemen struggled to get penetration all day. Redshirt freshmen Polo Mankainiu saw action at both defensive tackle and defensive end but struggled to be effective at either position.
The spring game indicated that if the Ags are going to have any depth on the interior of the defensive line in 2013, it is going to come from members of the 2013 recruiting class.
Matt Joeckel attempts a pass during the Maroon & White Game
Johnny Manziel is the unquestioned starter at quarterback for the Aggies. Matt Joeckel and Matt Davis have been fighting it out all spring for the backup quarterback spot.
Joeckel managed the team better during the scrimmage but it is not like he lit the world on fire. Joeckel completed eight of 21 passes for 88 yards.
Davis had the better statistics, completing seven of 12 passes for 112 yards, but he struggled to efficiently run the offense. Joeckel made better decisions with the ball in his hands than Davis did.
Joeckel will enter the offseason as the No.2 quarterback on the depth chart behind Manziel. With neither quarterback seizing the backup job, the possibility remains that true freshman quarterback Kenny Hill could take over the backup spot when he goes through two-a-days in the fall.
The Aggie kicking game still appears to be a work in progress. Place-kicker Taylor Bertolet was three for three on field goals but one of them was a poor kick. He missed an extra point that was pushed 15 yards back because of a celebration penalty.
Drew Kaser still seems to tense up in games. When it is practice time he will kick 60-70 yard punts. When the lights go on he is just as likely to shank a 35-yard punt as he is to kick one 60 yards.
The Ags need to be great on special teams if they want to win a championship. Right now the kicking game remains a concern.
Cameron Clear can he a huge weapon for the Aggies offense at tight end once he learns how to run better pass routes. The 6'6" 270-lb tight end is a tremendous blocker and should help the Ags move the ball on the ground.
He is rough around the edges when it comes to running passing routes. Clear will need to spend the summer with Manziel and the rest of the quarterbacks working on his routes during pickup 7-on-7 games.
Clear has an NFL body and should have a long career playing on Sundays. He needs to learn to run routes and consistently catch the ball now, so he can be a higher draft pick later.