Report card: Texas A&M football still a work in progress during spring game
The performances from Texas A&M on both sides of the ball certainly felt like a spring game on Saturday afternoon. Rather than risk injury, it was largely young players who got an opportunity to shine during the 45-minute scrimmage.
With several starters being held out with injuries, little-used players got touches. Running back Kendall Bussey led the game with 54 rushing yards, while wide receiver Aaron Hansford posted 46 receiving yards and a score. In all, 11 players caught passes.
Defensively, the experienced secondary got to show out, while players vied to leave the holes left by Myles Garrett, Daeshon Hall and Shaan Washington. There’s still several months before we will even get a depth chart, but certain players proved they deserve mention.
Here’s how each unit graded out at Texas A&M’s spring game on Saturday afternoon:
Quarterbacks were expected to be the big story coming into the day, but that never quite materialized. After redshirt freshman Nick Starkel led an impressive first touchdown drive, the trio of Starkel, Kellen Mond and Jake Hubenak combined to go just 22-for-53 on passes.
Hubenak was the most efficient, completing 8-of-13, but he was decidedly unspectacular. Many of his completions were routine throws to the flat. Starkel showed the most consistent excellence. There were several plays, especially in the first half, where teammates dropped easily catchable balls. Otherwise, his reads and throws were crisp. Mond showed the wild playmaking ability many hoped to see, but the reads are still a work in progress.
Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford looked about as good as expected, and Bussey showed he might deserve a spot in the rotation. However, the receivers were decidedly unspectacular. Out of 335 receiving yards, 169 went to tight ends and running backs. None of the highly-touted true freshmen caught a pass. After years of holding up receivers as a massive advantage, the Aggies are searching for contributors.
Considering it was a spring game, the Aggies showed only the most vanilla of defensive alignments. Additionally, Texas A&M’s top two freshman linebackers – Anthony Hines and Santino Marchiol – did not participate. That just opened the door for other players to step up.
Junior Mac Labhart dominated with 12 tacklesn which doubled any other player on the maroon team. He really should have come down with a couple interceptions too. Other than cornerback Nick Harvey, who was injured last week, the rest of the experienced secondary did play and looked good. Donovan Wilson proved he is the favorite for the starting job.
The defensive line was relatively ineffective, but that’s to be expected when running the most basic of schemes. Senior Jarrett Johnson forced a safety, but it was one of only three total sacks on the day between both sides.
While poor offense had plenty to do with the results, holding the quarterbacks under 50 percent passing is impressive. If not for a 71-yard breakaway reception from Kwame Etwi, the Aggies would have held them to 4.5 yards per play.
Spring games aren’t exactly a place to showcase special teams play. There were few kickoffs and punts generally aren’t returned in these settings. However, the unit was not especially impressive regardless.
Kicker Daniel LaCamera badly shanked his lone field goal attempt, a 47-yarder. Punters Shane Tripucka and Braden Mann combined to kick 10 punts for 439 yards, a 43.9-yard average. Again, that’s fine, not exceptional.
Other than Christian Kirk’s return ability, special teams have never been a major strength for the program. A spring game isn’t going to change that.
More than anything, spring games are an opportunity for fans to get out and see guys who have never played in an Aggie uniform before. While the performances were sloppy, that’s to be expected during spring practice.
Now, Kevin Sumlin and his staff will go back to the drawing board and use this live game film to formulate the best lineups. It was a nice day of football in College Station, Texas, which should help hold us over until August. There are no complaints here.