The Texas A&M football team has completed spring practice and will now go through the offseason strength program designed by Larry Jackson. The Aggies had a successful spring, but head coach Kevin Sumlin and his assistants have a few positions to be concerned about as the team enters the offseason.
The Ags had a good spring because no one suffered any major injuries. Aggie fans were able to get a good look at the players who are going to replace the 11 departed starters from the 2012 team.
Five of the starters from the Ags' front seven on defense sat out the spring game. Because of those players sitting out due to injuries, the coaches were able to get the backups a lot of reps against the first-team offense.
As the team heads into the offseason, the coaches need to find players to shore up a few positions before the Aggies will be ready to compete for championships in 2013. This is a look at the four positions the coaches should be worried about as the 2013 season approaches.
Depth on the interior defensive line is the biggest concern facing the Aggies right now. The Ags defensive coordinator Mark Snyder's philosophy on defense is to stop the run first.
That means being strong up the middle, and that starts at defensive tackle and nose guard. The Aggies have a solid starter returning at nose guard in Kirby Ennis. The senior from Huntsville, TX, started 11 games in 2012 and tallied 21 tackles and a sack.
Sophomore Alonzo WIlliams appears poised to take over the starting spot at defensive tackle next to Ennis. Williams got the start in the 2013 Cotton Bowl. He tallied five total tackles in 2012 while seeing limited action at defensive end and defensive tackle.
Williams and Ennis will be solid as starters, but the real issue is the current lack of depth behind them. The Aggies are going to have to rely on incoming freshmen to provide depth on the defensive line.
Jordan Points was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice. The 6'3", 260-pound freshman from Heath High School in Rockwall, TX, was solid in the spring game. He should be in the defensive tackle rotation behind Williams.
Hardreck Walker, Isaiah Golden and Justin Manning are all expected to help alleviate the depth issues on the defensive line in 2013. All three are members of the Ags' 2013 recruiting class. All three have the size and strength to compete in the trenches in the Southeastern Conference immediately.
The Aggies are going to need the four freshmen defensive linemen to step in and help out if they want to have a chance at winning conference and national titles in 2013.
The Aggies have some viable options at defensive end; it is simply a question of putting the right pieces in the right place. Damontre Moore declared early for the NFL draft, and his departure left a hole at the weak-side defensive end spot.
Sophomore end Julien Obioha spent the 2012 season starting on the strong side. The coaches may move him over to the weak side in 2013 to replace Moore. If Obioha gets the start at weak-side defensive end, then junior Gavin Stansbury will likely start on the strong side.
If the coaches are not satisfied with Stansbury's play, then they will keep Obioha on the strong side and likely start Tyrell Taylor on the weak side.
Taylor is a junior from Galena Park (TX) High School who has tremendous pass-rushing ability. The issue for Taylor is that he only weighs around 230 lbs and may struggle to hold up against the run in the SEC.
The Ags will need incoming freshman Daeshon Hall to come in ready to play at the weak-side defensive end position. Hall will need to see some snaps as a pass-rusher in 2013 to improve the Ags' depth.
The bodies are there to form an effective defensive end rotation; it is just a matter of the coaches putting the right pieces of the puzzle in the right places.
The big question on a lot of fan's minds is: Who is going to go in at quarterback if starter Johnny Manziel is injured? Senior Matt Joeckel and redshirt freshman Matt Davis spent the spring competing for the backup quarterback spot.
Joeckel was more effective running the offense in the spring game, but he had disappointing statistics while completing only eight passes on 21 pass attempts for 88 yards. Davis had better statistics with seven completions in 12 attempts for 121 yards, but he struggled to efficiently move the offense down the field.
Neither quarterback jumps out at you right now as someone who can win games in the SEC. Both need to get better over the summer if they want to seize the second-team spot behind Manziel.
Kenny Hill will arrive on campus in June and will be given every opportunity to win the backup quarterback position.
Tayor Bertolet kicks off vs. SMU
The Aggie coaches and fans are truly in a "wait and see" mode at kicker. Sophomore kicker Taylor Bertolet has all of the talent in the world; he just struggles with consistency.
The coaches are just going to have to wait to see if Bertolet can get the job done. He needs to be able to successfully make extra points and short field goals on a consistent basis.
Bertolet could not do that in 2012. If he cannot do it in 2013, then the Ags will need to give one of the walk-on kickers a chance. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into building an elite football program, and it would be terrible if a potential championship season was lost because the Ags do not have a kicker who can make extra points on a consistent basis.