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On his overall thoughts of the practice today…“We were out there a little bit longer, I guess you could tell that. There’s a method to that. We rested Sunday. It was probably the most humid day so far, but we’ve only had three. It was hot, so they got a pretty good taste of what the rest of the camp is going to be like. We had some guys struggle a bit with the heat, but they made it through. We were able to work on some other things … some redzone and moving around on the field a little bit more instead of just being stagnant.
“It was just another day. Guys were getting used to their shoulder pads, and we’ve got another day tomorrow with that. It’s a little bit more mentally stressful right now because we’ve got finals the last couple of days. We’ve got to adjust the meeting times. Today was the last day of class and then we’ll have finals tomorrow and Wednesday. In between practices, they aren’t really resting because they have stuff they have to do.”
On quarterbacks who stood out today and play in the redzone…“No, we rotated them. I’m starting to see some guys come to the forefront. We’ve got to find some playmakers on the outside and we need to be more consistent in challenging our corners. We’ve got great competition out there with some of our bigger guys, you know, Askew and Mike Evans who are challenging Deshazor and Floyd. It’s getting a little bit heated out there which y’all probably saw early on today. That’s good. Like I said, competition is a good thing and we’ve got to keep competing to get to where we want to be.”
On how physical the defense is allowed to be in shoulder pads…“We do everything but tackle. We don’t take guys to the ground. Once you put shoulder pads on, we stay on our feet and it’s full speed, except we don’t take anyone to the ground. From that standpoint it’s not very difficult. The better teams I’ve been on, you don’t have to worry about saying stay off the ground. If you go to pro camps, there is not a whole lot of yelling at people to stay off the ground, they just practice that way. The more athletic your team is, the more they understand the speed to practice and be physical and stay off the ground, the better your football team is.”
On if any returning player has stood out thus far…“If I did, I wouldn’t tell you right now. It’s too early. We’ve got three days of practice, and if there has been a problem that I’ve seen in the spring, it’s been consistency. You’ll talk about a guy and then the next day, he takes the day off. Or, I’ll call people pretenders and the next day they will come out and play really well. I’m really hesitant about what I’m going to say right now about anybody. Our goal is to get enough offense and defense and special teams in by this weekend to let them play for a little bit on Saturday, just to get the coaches off the field and start to see who is ready to play the game and who’s not.
“We’re back there hollering and screaming that it’s a different environment than Kyle Field where things happen fast and you have to think for yourself and communicate. We’re trying to give everybody enough fundamentals, plays and alignments so that they can go out on Saturday and let us really evaluate where we are as a team and where we are at each position.”
On finding the right pieces to the defensive puzzle…“It’s different. We play a little bit of man-to-man, we play a little bit of everything. The key is being able to work together. If you want to go one-on-one, they’ve been doing that all summer, whether they have pads on or not. The key for us is being able to work together and getting the right guys on the field whether we are playing with four, five or six defensive backs. Where they are, their technique and how they are using it … we’re making some progress. We’ve got a bunch of new guys out there and we’re not there yet. They’ve got to be able to communicate, and we’ve got to find a solid seven or eight guys.
“I think athletically, we’ve got five or six right now that could athletically play, but they’ve got to come on mentally. We’ve got to get the right pieces to the puzzle, like who is going to play what, if we’re going to go to field and boundary corner, if we’re going to flip the formation, what we’re going to do at safety, who is the nickel and all of those pieces like that. We’ve got eight practices until Saturday, and you have a total of 29 opportunities. After Saturday, you’ve really got 20 more opportunities to start to move towards what you want.”
On the play of the offensive line…“They established themselves in the spring, and they continue to improve. I think Jarvis coming back adds some real mass and girth in there at 330 pounds or whatever he is. But, he’s behind. You can tell that he missed 15 practices in the spring. The other guys have moved on, but a knee injury with a guy that big, conditioning is always a factor. He’s got to get where he needs to be from a conditioning standpoint and from a mental standpoint, so that he can play. I’m glad to get him back.
“Shep Klinke had a solid spring and will challenge him there. Our two tackles are good players, so we feel really good. I think the thing we have to do is establish the guard spot where Jarvis is, and he has to come on and then develop who is going to be the two’s in that unit. Moving Compton over is obviously making a statement about what we think little Matthews (Mike) can do. I shouldn’t say little, what is he? 280 or whatever he is. He’s still little Matthews out there and we need to see if he can handle traveling this year.
“My thing is, a year from now, with Patrick Lewis being gone, if he can handle it, I would rather have Matthews travel and be the backup center and play in games and have three years to start rather than have a brand new center next year who has never been in a game. There are some people that will say that’s crazy, but I think if you start in the SEC for three years at any position, it’s pretty good. Matthews has ability and has to learn the offense. With those types of things, he’s not ready yet, but I think that over the course of the year, he will give us some flexibility to really develop that second line in case of injury or substitution.”
B.J. Anderson* The guys did a nice job in their first day in shells. You can tell that they have worked all summer by the way they retained what was installed during the spring. They are really glad to have the three new guys in there who have added some depth and have taken some reps off of some other guys.
* The older guys are further along than they were in the spring and are really starting to push each other instead of him having to do it for them. You check that kind of stuff at the end of practice, and he was very pleased with what he saw out of them today.
* Adjusting to the tempo was tough on the offensive line during the spring, but everyone is very pleased with what Coach Jackson was able to accomplish with these guys over the summer. They have to keep getting better, but for three days into fall camp, they are doing pretty well.
* The skill set of the older guys is high, but after getting to know them personally, it’s easy to tell that their character is high as well. It’s not just one or two guys who have high character and instead, it’s the whole group. They are going to put the work in everyday and A&M is lucky to have them.
* Mike Matthews is doing a really nice job. His football IQ is higher than most freshmen that come in. He’s picked this offense up and targets the protections and targets the run game very well. He’s got a lot of getting better to do, and there is plenty of technique stuff to work on, but he’s been pleased through three days.
* Cedric Ogbuehi is long and athletic, and if he was to lay his hands on you, you would know he is an offensive lineman. He’s a heavy handed guy who likes to play. He and Patrick Lewis and Jake Matthews really work nice together.
* Ogbuehi will be cross-trained at the tackle position, but that won’t come for about another eight days. That’s on the calendar, but he wants to make sure that when he jogs out there for the first game that he will be ready to play right guard.
* The center is not only responsible for the offensive line targeting at the line of scrimmage, but they also point the backs, which takes that pressure off of the quarterback. For Patrick Lewis to come in and pick that up, mentally, was something that took a little jerking into.
* Jarvis Harrison is doing a nice job. You can train off to the side like he did in the spring as much as you want, but until you get into the tempo and put a long drive together, it’s just different. He’s working his tail off to get adjusted and is picking the offense up better and better each day.
Jake Matthews* The first day in shells was good. It was nice to finally get the pads on and be able to get a little contact in. Everyone was out there sweating and running hard. The tempo of the offense was moving well, but there is still a lot of stuff that needs to be improved on.
* Having Jarvis Harrison back next to him was huge. He’s been working really hard this summer with Coach Jackson. He’s really starting to understand the offense after missing the spring. He still has to get better at some things, just like everyone else, but he’s going to be a great player for A&M.
* Working with Coach Anderson has been really good. You learn a lot of things from different coaches and having him has been a good change-up. All of the stuff he tells you makes sense and overall, the group has really enjoyed having him.
* Germain Ifedi is bigger than ever. He’s going to be a great player, but right now he needs to understand the game a little more and get to know the offense a little better. Kimo Tipoti is another big guy with good feet who just needs to get a little more comfortable with what is going on around him. He couldn’t be more proud of his little brother Mike Matthews. Living with him and going to class with him has been great. He’s picking up things pretty well, especially at center. He’s going to be the leader of that group one day, so he needs to learn to step up and make the right calls when they need to be made.
* It’s different having your younger brother being that close to you in college than it is being the younger brother who tags along with the older. He feels the need to protect his little brother and make sure that he learns what he needs to learn to be successful.
* He takes advantage of having a football-savvy family all the time. He calls his dad every day after he practices because his dad loves to know what is going on. He wants to know how they are doing and having his dad be who he is has been very beneficial to his game. Having a dad who is a very experienced offensive lineman is almost like having a second coach.
* He loves competing against Luke Joeckel. The two of them are always pushing each other, and going against him is one of the things that have helped him the most over the past few years. He’s a great buddy and a great guy to workout with.
Cedric Ogbuehi* The summer workouts and conditioning program has helped a lot. Coach Jackson has had them outside in the heat everyday to prepare them for fall camp.
* In the summer, the offensive linemen focus on doing different types of drills and focus on doing thing that will prepare them to be better on the field.
* He doesn’t think about trying to keep people from getting hurt during practice and just plays his game. He goes from whistle to whistle and doesn’t think about anything besides the play at hand.
* The entire defensive line has gotten better since the spring. He can’t pinpoint one person who really stands out, but the whole unit has definitely shown improvement.
* He’s improved a lot with his pass sets, hand placement and run blocking. There is always room for improvement on those things even though he has gotten better at them.
* The spring really helped the offensive line adjust to the tempo of offense that Sumlin runs. The guys are basically adjusted to it now and enjoy running at such a high pace.
* People have told him that he doesn’t look like an offensive lineman anymore. He’s been called a tight end and even receiver from some people. He thinks he’s big which is all that matters.
* He’s gained some good weight since the beginning of camp and has put on a total of six pounds since reporting last Thursday.
* All of the young guys are really improving. Germain Ifedi is going to be a good player in the future. All of them have room for improvement, but you can see the small things from them that tell you they are going to be good.