First off, I did a story on Branden Warner. It will appear in Friday's edition of the Sun-News and on our Web site as well.
Speaking of which, the defensive tackle position has a ton of potential. You can see it on the practice field and while Warner is getting a lot of attention, I think the player to really keep an eye on is E.J. Cannon. While Warner, Vincent Frederico and John Finau are competing for playing time, it seems like E.J. is going to be a starter regardless. He's a big kid who moves well. It seems like he would be a lot to handle for an offensive guard.
“I'm excited for this team and for myself personally,” Cannon said. “I'm ready to get out there and play some games. I think it could be a big year all the way around.”
Defensive tackle is a blue collar position that doesn't get a ton of attention but it is vital. And the Aggies seem comfortable there, at least through the first two days of practice.
More quarterback news: It was an uneven day for the quarterbacks, at least during the seven-on-seven drills I witnessed.
Jeff Fleming and Trevor Walls each made some good throws and some poor ones as well. Lets start with the bad:
Walls made one pass into heavy traffic. There were three receivers bunched up along the left side, struggling to find separation. Walls still tried to force the ball in, though, and it was broken up. The play drew the ire of offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach. Really, when there are three receivers clustered like that, and they were literally huddled together, it's just as much on them. You need to get separation in your routes. But still, Walls shouldn't have let the ball go.
Fleming overthrew a handful of passes into the flat. One time, he was visibly upset with himself.
Both QBs also almost tossed a few interceptions that the defensive backs batted down.
There were good plays also, however. Walls dropped back on one play and zinged a ball over the middle, splitting the safeties and hitting wide receiver Barry Huntley in stride beyond the secondary. Rosenbach immediately greeted him after the play with a high five.
Fleming made a handful of good throws. One that stood out was a play action pass where he faked left and rolled right, flushed out by the pass rush. Fleming whirled and fired off his back foot to an open Julius Fleming for 20 yards. It was a nice throw and showed off his arm strength.
Tanner Rust didn't do much, although he did make one play with his legs, rolling left with a linebacker in his face. Rust pump faked, getting the defender in the air and scrambled back to the line of scrimmage. The play showed off his athleticism.
Walker spoke with Las Cruces Bulletin sports editor John Keith about Walls after Thursday's practice. Walker said that the offense is designed more for a mobile quarterback, something that Fleming and Rust are and Walls isn't as much. With that being said, Walker said that in fairness to Walls, the coaching staff will seek plays that fit his skill set more — that of a big, drop-back passer with a strong arm.
‘He's slightly different and we want to show off his strengths,” Walker said. “He's sharp, accurate, a little more of a pocket thrower. He's a bigger guy and he has to be comfortable back there.”
Walker also said that just because one man wins the starting job doesn't mean the coaching staff won't go back to the drawing board during the season if things aren't moving in the right direction.
“It's a constant competition,” Walker said. “Lets just say that Fleming wins. Well, he's still go to do it in the game too.”
A few more notes: Marcus Anderson hauled in a deep touchdown grab. I wrote it yesterday and I'll write it again. Anderson will still be a big part of the offense. He also said after practice that he will still return punts and kickoffs....Another receiver, Darrius Preston, continues to see a good deal of action this fall....Chris Buckner had a nice pass breakup in seven-on-seven drills. Physically, Buckner can handle the cornerback position.