Story Poster
Mike Elko
Taurean York
Trey Zuhn III
Texas A&M Football

Elko encouraged by strides exhibited during A&M's second scrimmage

April 17, 2024

A week ago, first-year Texas A&M coach football Mike Elko acknowledged the Aggies showed signs of growing pains in their first spring scrimmage.

Elko said the Aggies showed signs of progress in a second scrimmage on Tuesday.

“I think we made tremendous strides from scrimmage one to scrimmage two, which, I think, we’d be pretty poor coaches if we didn’t,” Elko said at Wednesday afternoon press conference. “It was nice to see us get out and execute our offense, in particular, a lot better. I thought just the overall timing of what we’re trying to get done looked significantly better, much less pre-snap penalties, pre-snap alignment problems.

“I just thought we looked like a much cleaner operation.”

That would be welcome news to the A&M fan population, which had grown frustrated with pre-snap penalties and poor execution that was prevalent in the previous two seasons.

Elko did not mention any individual standouts.

Rather, he seemed encouraged by the overall progress.

“I think we made tremendous strides from scrimmage one to scrimmage two, which, I think, we’d be pretty poor coaches if we didn’t. It was nice to see us get out and execute our offense, in particular, a lot better.”
- A&M head coach Mike Elko

“We were able to get about 120 snaps, which was great,” he said. “Got a lot of kids a lot of different work. Still mixing and matching offense linemen to figure out the best group there. Secondary…. Best way to utilize wide receiver group.

“I think we took some big steps forward yesterday. That was good to see.”

Elko indicated the Aggies were still a work in progress. That’s no surprise considering the season-opener against Notre Dame on Aug. 31 is still four-and-a-half months away.

But Elko made it clear the need for progress is no need for panic.

“It’s very much a work in progress to get this where we want to go,” he said. “Everyone takes that as negative. You want me to stand up here and say, ‘Oh my god, it’s amazing.’ That’s not my personality. You’re not going to hear that from me… ever.”

Spring Game

Spring football concludes on Saturday with the annual Maroon & White Game at Kyle Field.

The game begins at 1 p.m.

While other programs around the country often devise complex scoring systems or abandon spring games for carnival-like celebrations (Ole Miss last Saturday had players in slam dunk and hot dog eating contests), Elko reiterated that A&M will have as close to a game-day experience as possible in the spring.

Newly announced team captains Taurean York and Trey Zuhn III drafted teams and even coaching staffs. A&M will use the traditional scoring system.

“For us, I think our kids deserve an opportunity to finish spring and go out and play a game,” Elko said. “It is really hard to say we’re going to go 14 practices and end with another intra-squad scrimmage or end with another thing that resembles a practice.

“We want to do the best we can to make it game-like. We held a draft the other night. We let the two captains draft everything. All the way down to player callers, coaching staffs, what sideline they’re on, what uniforms they wear.

“We want it to truly be something they enjoy.”

Schlossnagle on the Assist

Kelii Horvath, TexAgs
Elko himself attended at least one of Texas A&M baseball’s lopsided victories over Vanderbilt over the weekend at Blue Bell.

Last weekend, the Aggies picked up commitments from quarterback Husan Longstreet‍ of Corona (CA) Centennial and offensive lineman Marcus Garcia‍ of Denton Ryan.

Elko seemed to suggest A&M baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle might have indirectly helped the Aggies get those commitments.

Recruits attended A&M’s baseball games against Vanderbilt last weekend.

The Aggies outscored the Commodores 36-6 over three games to sweep the series and take over the No. 1 ranking in the nation.

Elko said recruits seemed impressed by the fan support and excitement at Blue Bell Park.

“It’s just that environment when it’s going on an SEC weekend, especially like it was last weekend,” he said. “I think we set an attendance record.

“It’s a showcase of what Aggieland spirit looks like. You say, ‘OK, take this, feel this environment and multiply it by 12-fold, and that’s Kyle Field on Saturdays.”

Elko also expressed admiration for other programs, such as softball, women’s tennis and golf, which are having strong seasons.

“It can only help when all of your programs are having success,” he said. “There’s nothing negative about every athletic program at Texas A&M being very successful.”

Aye, Aye, Captain

The election of York and Zuhn as team captains is somewhat surprising only because both are still so young.

York is a sophomore. Zuhn is a junior.

Frequently, team captains are seniors. Elko acknowledged the A&M captains are a bit unusual, but he left the voting completely up to the team.

“There’s an old-school mentality, a little bit of like ‘OK, we’re going to name the two best senior leaders’ or coaches are going to guess. When you truly let the players do it, they speak loudly,” Elko said.

York, in a video released by the football program, was obviously touched at receiving the honor.

“It means a lot because I know what it took to get here,” he said. “Me being still 18 years old and being chosen by my teammates to lead a group of men who are older than me. … It meant the world to me, to be honest.”

Zuhn, who has started two seasons despite often fighting through injuries, figured his teammates just respect his approach to the game.

“I’m not the most vocal leader on the field, but I’d say I lead by example,” Zuhn said. “Every single day, I set a standard. I hold myself to it and everyone else around me.”

Zuhn said he cast his captain votes for York, defensive lineman Shemar Turner and quarterback Conner Weigman.

Special Attention

The return game, with Ainias Smith returning punts and Devon Achane receiving kickoffs, has been a strength the last two seasons.

Achane, of course, is now with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Smith is expected to be taken in the 2024 NFL Draft next week.

Elko still thinks the Aggies will have a strong return game, even though they suffered a setback with the recent injury sustained by transfer receiver Jabre Barber.

“I think it’s a shame because I think Jabre Barber was the guy that was really stepping into that punt return role,” Elko said. “He did that at Troy and was really good at it. I thought he was going to be a weapon for us back there. We’ll have to see the return time on him and what that looks like.”

Elko said he receiver Cyrus Allen, a transfer from Louisiana Tech, and Moose Muhammad III have the ability to be effective on punt returns.

He also mentioned running back Rueben Owens could handle kickoff returns. Last season, Owens averaged 20.75 yards on 12 returns.

“I think Rueben Owens has some skill sets in the kickoff return game,” Elko said. “I know he did that a little bit last year. We’ll see if we have some young guys, too, that maybe can step into some of those roles.”

Discussion from...

Elko encouraged by strides exhibited during A&M's second scrimmage

5,175 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by Sterling82
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Dammit, Coach left out the Equestrian team!
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York is a guy you can build a team around.
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