4 Things We've Learned About Texas A&M Through Fall Camp so Far
The Texas A&M football team has completed its second week of fall camp, and some themes have started to emerge. The Aggies will be improved on defense, but how much they are improved remains to be seen.
The central theme that most prognosticators have been hitting on during the offseason has been that the Aggies will take a step back on the field because their offense will drop off without quarterback Johnny Manziel at the helm. They also expect the defense will still struggle to be effective.
Most pundits are ignoring the fact that the Aggies played a lot of freshmen on defense in 2013, and they will improve simply through maturing. There will not be as many busts because those sophomores will have a better understanding of the defense, and they will be more physically prepared to face off against SEC offenses.
The defense—particularly the front four—should be improved in 2014. This is a look at that defensive improvement and a few other things that have become apparent during the second week of fall camp.
RSJ Is Ready to Go
Wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones injured his knee during an end-zone celebration after scoring his first career touchdown in the 2013 season opener against Rice. He had surgery and missed the rest of the year.
Seals-Jones has appeared healthy and ready to go during fall practices. He has used his size (6'5", 225 lbs) to block off defenders and snatch the ball out of the air.
Seals-Jones has been lining up mainly in the slot. He will also be used as a flex tight end or in an H-back role. Aggie offensive coordinator Jake Spavital will move him around the field to create mismatches with the opponent.
Seals-Jones is practicing without a brace on his knee, per Aubrey Bloom of AggieSports.com. He should be a difference-maker on offense for the Aggies in 2014.
Defensive Line Is Looking Solid
The Texas A&M defensive line was a weakness in 2013. It struggled to generate any kind of pass rush and could be pushed around against the run.
That appears to be changing in 2014. The true freshmen who were forced into action in 2013 have put on some weight and have a year of SEC experience under their belts.
The defensive line has been solid during fall practices. Ends Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett have been able to get in the backfield and put pressure on the quarterback.
Alonzo Williams, Hardreck Walker and Zaycoven Henderson have been solid on the inside. The 2014 defensive line should be solid against the run and capable of getting opponents off the field.
Kenny Hill May Be Making a Push
The starting quarterback for the Aggies will probably not be named for at least another week. However, it appears that Kenny Hill may be making a serious push for the job.
Hill started two practices in a row with the first team during the portion of practice that the media are allowed to attend, according to Gabe Bock of TexAgs Radio (h/t Sean Lester of The Dallas Morning News). That may mean nothing in the long run, or it may mean that the coaches want to get an expanded look at Hill with the starters.
Hill can offer the Aggies something that freshman Kyle Allen cannot: the ability to make plays with his feet. When a play breaks down, Hill can become an extra running back on the field.
Allen is not a statue, but he is not as effective as Hill is as a runner. The competition for the starting spot will continue for another week, but right now it appears that Hill is in the lead.
Do Not Forget About Darrell Jackson
The Aggies received a surprise commitment in July when Darrell Jackson of Blinn Junior College decided to come to A&M. Jackson was an all-district safety in high school who gained a lot of weight during his first year at Blinn and moved to defensive end.
The 6'5", 230-pound athlete definitely looks the part of an SEC defensive end. How much he will contribute in 2014 remains to be seen, but he will play. Jackson redshirted during his first year at Blinn, so he has four years of eligibility left.
He will play immediately. Jackson will offer the Aggies some depth at defensive end and will play on special teams. He has shown flashes of being a difference-maker in practice. You can never have too much depth on the defensive line in the SEC, and Jackson could be a pleasant surprise for the Aggies in 2014.