COLLEGE STATION -- Texas A&M worked out for about an hour and a half on Kyle Field Saturday in their first scrimmage of fall camp. The Aggies got in over 120 plays in the scrimmage.
The quarterback battle continued to heat up, as Jameill Showers, Johnny Manziel, and Matt Joeckel each looked impressive. Head coach Kevin Sumlin said after the scrimmage that he may wait as late as next weekend to declare which player will be the starting quarterback. "I gotta go back and look at where they are in their reads and progressions. What they're doing. How they're getting the ball out. We mixed them up with lines with the first and second lines trying to get them a shot. The evaluation's ongoing."
Freshman running back Trey Williams also had a good day, breaking off a pair of long touchdown runs. Sumlin said, "He's been doing that all camp. Making people miss and he's got wire-to-wire speed too to go with that. He's a good player."
Some quick scrimmage notes:
First Play: Johnny Manziel pass complete to Malcome Kennedy for five yards.
QB breakdown: Manziel and Jameill Showers split time through the first half of the scrimmage, with Matt Joeckel getting in a few snaps. Joeckel played most all of the second half of the scrimmage and looked strong, throwing multiple TDs.
Run of the Day: true freshman Trey Williams took a handoff up the middle, ran into some traffic, bounced to the outside a bit, juked a few defenders and then broke free for a 78-yard touchdown that elicited a loud cheer from the assembled crowd. The score capped a 96-yard drive for the offense. Williams finished the first half of the scrimmage (before the team started working on special situations) with 125 yards and two TDs on six carries. He would add another TD in the second half of the scrimmage.
Hit (and Catch) of the Day: Steven Campbell lowered the boom on Kennedy as he made a catch across the middle inside the 10-yard line. Kennedy held on to the ball for 18 yards and a first down, stayed down for just a second and got up and ran the next play, with both players earning applause from the crowd and their teammates.
Aggie “D”: the defense picked up four “sacks” in the first half of the scrimmage—two by Damontre Moore, one by Spencer Nealy and another by Tyrell Taylor.
Gator Bait: Credit Gaston “Gator” Lamascus with a slick 33-yard touchdown reception from Manziel … Lamascus caught a pass around the 15 as he was coming across the field from right to left, and with a DB about to tackle him he stopped, turned and cut back in the opposite direction – evading another defender and making it into the end zone for the score.
T Him Up: in the back half of the scrimmage, LB Sean Porter made a nice leaping interception over the middle, near midfield, and was racing towards the end zone (with escorts) when he realized the play had been whistled dead … to protect the QB, the referee had blown his whistle just as the ball was released … Porter made it to about the 30 before he punted the ball into the end zone, getting a nice laugh out of the crowd and his defensive teammates on the sideline.
Stripes: A full officiating crew was in attendance calling the scrimmage, made up of five SEC referees, several from the Big 12 and even one from the WAC. Officials, like players, look to get practice in prior to the season starting.
Here are some thoughts from Coach Sumlin’s visit with the media following the scrimmage...
“I have to watch the film, to be honest with you. We got over 120-something plays in. I thought that was good. I thought the quarterbacks had at least 30 snaps apiece, which is good. That's about half a game. We matched them up with everybody. So I think you guys see where the quarterback race is going. (Matt) Joeckel came in and did some good things. He's had a really, really good camp. He's improved a lot. Probably the most disappointing thing was (Mike) Matthews. I wanted to get him some snaps, but he got hurt early. I thought today gave our quarterbacks a chance to operate all over the field. We threw some balls, particularly in the red zone, to see who will make some plays and challenge some people. I was not pleased with the tempo that we ran the offense with today. Our defense has got to match that tempo. We need to turn that up this week and are guys will learn from it.”
On Trey Williams’ day… “I think he's been doing that all fall, making people miss. He's got wire-to-wire speed to go with that. He's a good player. He's got to learn the offense. You'll see him back there moving around a lot, and he got a penalty because of that. All those little things, we can work with. He wants to be great, and he'll work at it, but there are just the little things. He's coming along well. I like all of our backs. Brandon (Williams) didn't go today. I think everyone sees the value Tra Carson will bring to the table a year from now. At 230-something pounds, he's a different guy. I thought Christine (Michael) did some good things, he ran well. We were able to run it out of some different sets. We've got a good group of running backs. For those of you who didn't think we run the ball, you understand how we run it and how we utilize our running backs. And that's why we keep getting good ones.”
Are you still on target to name a quarterback on Thursday, two weeks before the first game? “Maybe. Usually. The latest will be next weekend. But we'll see. I have to watch the video.”
Can you evaluate the play of (Jameill) Showers and (Johnny) Manziel? “How about the play of Showers, Manziel and Joeckel? I think he scored more touchdowns with his group today than anybody else.”
How much is Joeckel an example of why you would leave a quarterback battle open? “That's why it's open. I've got to go back and look at where they are through their reads and progressions. What they're doing, how they're getting the ball out. We mixed them up with different lines, the first and second line, to try and give them a shot. So we will see. But the evaluation is ongoing. The good news is we didn't throw the ball to the defense a bunch. For penalties, what did we have? Four or five illegal procedures? Out of 120 snaps. That's better than what we had in the spring. That's not what we want, but that's better. We only had one on defense, which is better than where we were in the spring. So there are some positives from that standpoint. What I'm concerned with is effort and toughness. (I told the guys) You need to show courage today and you need to show effort, and we will work with you from there. That's where we are.”
It seems like the defense had a really tough time stopping the offense today… “Well, somebody's got to win. If we couldn’t move the ball, you would've said that the offense had a tough time. As a head coach, in every scrimmage, one group is always madder than the other group. I would say that based on the fact that we have one of the better offensive lines in the country and three or four 5-star running backs…we don't have that on defense right now. So I would say that our offensive line is pretty good. And we can be better. From a tempo standpoint, from pushing the ball. We're not pushing the ball as quickly as we need to.”
Thoughts on the punting and kicking game… “Pretty good. What did we miss, one field goal? Punting, we’ve got us a war. We have some guys that need to be consistent, and they know who they are.”
On how this sets you up for next week… “There will be some decisions made after today about some positions, and guys getting reps. The good news about this week is it gets more difficult. We've got two practices on Monday, two on Wednesday, and two on Friday. So we have eight practices in five days, and another scrimmage. The good news is we've got a lot of work to get done, but we've got plenty of time to get it done this week. And this week is big.”
Spotted at Practice: NFL Hall of Famer and native Texan Joe Greene, a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was in attendance at the scrimmage, as were scouts from several pro teams.
Up Next: The team will have Sunday off before going twice on Monday (both closed to the public).