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Texas A&M Football

Effort, enthusiasm to define A&M's success in Maroon & White Game

April 19, 2024
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There are 102,733 seats at Kyle Field.

Texas A&M head football coach Mike Elko says he’ll have the worst seat in the house for the annual Maroon & White spring game on Saturday at noon.

Elko won’t be stationed high in the end zone on a third-deck bench. He’ll be on the field and the sidelines.

He just might not like what he sees. In fact, he’s pretty sure he won’t.

“When you’re the head coach, I don’t know if there’s ever been a successful play,” Elko said. “Because every tackle for loss is a lost yardage play for your offense, and every touchdown is a bad play for your defense.

“When you sit in my chair, you watch 122 bad plays every time we have a scrimmage.”

Of course, that means he’s also watching 122 good plays. It all depends on perspective.

The spring game is the ultimate shadow box. Is a long touchdown pass the result of a great quarterback-to-receiver connection or a disconnect in the secondary?

The spring clash will be as close to a regular game-type atmosphere as possible. Captains Taurean York and Trey Zuhn III drafted teams. The scoring system is the same as a traditional game.

“Practice is practice. We’re working on fundamentals and the playbook, but the spring game is really when you get to see who the players are. Who’s going to make plays in crucial moments, and who’s going to step up to the challenge of what game days are actually like.”
- Texas A&M OL Trey Zuhn III

“I’m really looking forward to the spring game,” Zuhn said. “Practice is practice. We’re working on fundamentals and the playbook.

“But the spring game is really when you get to see who the players are. Who’s going to make plays in crucial moments, and who’s going to step up to the challenge of what game days are actually like.”

Elko is more concerned with effort and enthusiasm than scores and results.

“We’re trying to figure out how to play consistent, championship-level football,” Elko said. “That’s not about results. That’s about how we operate. How we play from a physicality standpoint. From an effort and demeanor standpoint. How are we executing what we’re asked to do? 

“You can judge and evaluate that stuff. Being a coach for 24 years, you start to get a feel for those types of things and care more about those types of things than the actual result of the play.”

Elko acknowledged a “sack” (quarterbacks will not be hit) may be a matter of the line not being familiar with a certain blitz scheme, or a long pass play may be due to defensive backs still getting acquainted with new coverage assignments.

He admitted successes and failures in the spring game most likely won’t indicate what to expect when A&M opens the season against Notre Dame on Aug. 31.

However, the players’ demeanor, temperament, effort and physicality will provide some clues about that game and beyond.

“You want to feel that continue to develop and grow every time you go out there,” Elko said. “Because that is sustainable and that will withstand the test of time.”

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Effort, enthusiasm to define A&M's success in Maroon & White Game

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