Biggest Storylines Heading into Texas A&M's Fall Camp
The Texas A&M football team will report for fall camp on July 31. The Aggies will begin their first practice on August 1 with a number of questions facing the team.
The Aggies will be a young team in 2014, but they will be more experienced than the 2013 squad that finished 9-4 in 2013. They will only start seven seniors, with only one in their front seven on defense.
The Aggies have to find answers at multiple positions during fall camp. There are some depth issues that need to be addressed and some starters who need to be named.
This is a look at the biggest storylines for the Aggies heading into fall camp.
Quarterback Position Is Still Up in the Air
The No. 1 question on most college football fans' minds as the Aggies enter fall practice is: Who is going to replace Johnny Manziel? There will be a competition for the starting quarterback job between sophomore Kenny Hill and true freshman Kyle Allen.
Hill completed 16 of 22 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown in 2013. Allen was the No. 1-ranked quarterback recruit in the nation, according to 247Sports, and was able to participate in spring practice.
During the six years that Kevin Sumlin has been a head football coach in college, his quarterbacks have averaged 360 yards passing per game. It does not matter who the Aggies line up under center because he is going to pass for 3,000 yards in 2014 and compete for postseason awards.
Aggies fans need to be patient and let the competition play out. Whoever lines up under center on August 28 against South Carolina will be a quality quarterback.
Shuffling Along the Defensive Line
The Aggies expected to return their entire allotment of starters from the 2013 defensive line. Instead, they will only return two of their four starters. Nose guard Isaiah Golden was dismissed from the team and defensive end Gavin Stansbury decided to leave the team in order to deal with some personal issues.
This means that there will have to be some shuffling along the defensive line. Junior Julien Obioha will most assuredly start at strong-side defensive end where he started in 2012. Sophomore Jay Arnold will likely back up Obioha on the strong side.
Incoming freshmen Jarrett Johnson and Darrell Jackson will also get a look on the strong side. Stansbury's absence could mean that both freshmen play this year instead of allowing them to redshirt in 2014.
Golden was not available during spring practice, so the coaches got a good look at what the nose guard position would look like without him. True freshman Zaycoven Henderson will start at the nose and will be backed up by sophomore Hardrick Walker.
True freshman DeShawn Washington could see some playing time at the nose if he proves that he is capable. The Aggies are going to need to move some players around to get their rotation on the defensive line set. The good news is that they should still have more depth on the line than they have had during their first two years in the SEC.
Can the Defense Improve?
The Texas A&M defense has to be better in 2014 than it was in 2013. It was one of the worst defenses in the country in 2013, allowing 475.8 yards and 32.2 points per game.
If the Aggies can lower that number by about 100 yards and one touchdown per game, then they will have a legitimate chance at competing for an SEC title.
The onus for defensive improvement lies at the feet of the defensive line. The Aggies need an improved pass rush to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and diminish the window for pass completions.
If incoming freshman Myles Garrett and sophomore Daeshon Hall are able to generate a consistent pass rush from the front four, it will make the defense better as a whole and give more options to defensive coordinator Mark Snyder.
Snyder will be able to vary his coverages and blitzes with a consistent pass rush. This should help increase the number of forced turnovers and give the offense more opportunities to score. The defense has to improve in 2014, and it all starts up front on the defensive line.
Who Will Step Up and Be the Next Big Playmaker on Offense?
Manziel and Mike Evans have moved on to the NFL. The 2014 season will begin with the Aggies looking for their next big star on offense.
Going into the 2013 season, college football fans knew that the offense would revolve around Manziel and Evans. When the chips were down, Manziel was going to look to Evans to make a big play.
Now it is up to some of the younger players on offense to step up and make a name for themselves. The 2014 offense could revolve around the running of Tra Carson or Trey Williams. Ricky Seals-Jones could step up and be the next big thing at wide receiver for the Aggies.
True freshman Speedy Noil may electrify the crowds with special teams returns and runs after the catch on receptions. No one can say for sure right now what the offensive identity for the team will be.
During the past two years, this team was defined by its quarterback. Aggies fans are going to have to wait until the season starts to see what the 2014 team is defined by.