Wednesday, March 28, 2012
New personnel, coaches make Aggie spring practices worth watching
(Photo of Aggie quarterback Travaughn Colwell by Athens Banner-Herald)
Why are spring practices important for a college football team?
For coaches, it's a chance to hold basic, fundamental practices outside the grind of the regular season, while also getting a handle on their incoming personnel and further formulating a depth chart.
For players, it gives them the opportunity to get acclimated to a new system, and the demands of their coaching staff.
The New Mexico State Aggies open their spring practices Thursday at 7 a.m. at Aggie Memorial Stadium, and will go for the next month leading up to their April 28 spring game.
Here, we give a brief “by the numbers” glance at what to look for, if one happens to head out to spring drills during the upcoming month.
11: Players the Aggies signed to National Letters of Intent this past offseason who will make their debuts this spring (NMSU signed 25 players overall). On paper, the team had a good recruiting class and addressed their needs, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines, where they added a combined 10 players to the respective units. While none of the new offensive linemen will be taking the field at NMSU during spring drills, the team will welcome four defensive linemen into the fold Thursday. The Aggies also bulked up at tight end, and will be breaking in an entirely new starting secondary in 2012. Alas, for the most part, all coaches are optimistic about their incoming signing classes. How these players look on the field and are integrated into the lineup can be another story, and will be one key to look for this spring.
5: Quarterbacks on the Aggie spring roster, which is certainly a position to watch leading up to the season. Head coach DeWayne Walker said Andrew Manley will participate in all passing drills this spring, but will not partake in full-team drills — the sophomore QB suffered a torn ACL and partial tear of the MCL in his right knee last September against UTEP. NMSU brought in Andrew McDonald this past offseason, the son of former USC quarterback Paul McDonald, and perhaps he can make an impact. McDonald put up good numbers last year at Santa Ana College — completing 167 of 242 pass attempts for over 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. And, what will the team do with Travaughn Colwell? He looked good at times last year as a true freshman — displaying maturity in the team's home win over Idaho — while also looking like a rookie at times — road struggles at Hawaii and Louisiana Tech come to mind. Either way, Colwell showed promise — a big athlete with a good enough arm — who could very well be an impact player in the WAC.
4: New field coaches for the Aggies this season — the team had to hire new offensive and defensive coordinators in Jerry McManus and David Elson, respectively, along with a new offensive line coach (Brad Bedell) and new defensive line coach (Romeo Bandison). Some questions that will naturally follow heading into spring practices: What kind of scheme changes will there be on either side of the ball? How will the new coaches relate to their players, and how will Walker communicate with his new assistants? The head coach pointed out during a Wednesday conversation that the Aggies' players and coaching staff worked closely together this offseason in an effort to build chemistry and continuity. “It really helped,” Walker said. “It really did.”
NMSU spring practice schedule
* All practices at Aggie Memorial Stadium
Thursday: 7-9:30 a.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 3: 7-9:30 a.m.
Thursday, April 5: 7-9:30 a.m.
Saturday, April 7: 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 10: 7-9:30 a.m.
Thursday, April 12: 7-9:30 a.m.
Saturday, April 14: 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 17: 7-9:30 a.m.
Thursday, April 19: 7-9:30 a.m.
Saturday, April 21: 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 24: 7-9:30 a.m.
Thursday, April 26: 7:00-9:30 a.m.
Friday, April 27: 7-9:30 a.m.
Saturday, April 28: 1 p.m. (Spring Game)