Assuming Andrew Manley is going to be the quarterback in 2012, can the Aggie offensive front block in a down-hill rushing attack? Last year, they couldn't.
Two weeks into spring practices, three spots appear to be OK on the offensive front.
• Left tackle Davonte Wallace can be a beast.
• Center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke remains a tad undersized, but also showed promise last year.
• Right guard Andrew Kersten is a returning starter with experience.
The two other spots — left guard and right tackle — appear up for grabs.
Andy Cunningham — a possible surprise player on the offensive line this year — left practice on Saturday with an injury, although is expected to be all right.
The Aggies will have five new offensive linemen coming in before the start of fall camp, so we'll see how things shakes out.
The Aggie defense is going to have a different look in 2012.
For one, new coordinator David Elson looks like a good addition at this point — enthusiastic, intense, engaged.
One interesting change is that the strength of the Aggies' defense could very well shift this year — from the defensive backfield to the front seven.
The Aggies will replace their entire starting secondary this year, while having more bodies up front.
The linebacking unit returns Alexander LaVoy, B.J. Adolpho and Bryan Bonilla, while also adding Trashaun Nixon as a junior college transfer.
On the defensive line, Donte Savage has All-WAC potential, while Walton Taumoepeau — who was pretty solid last year — returns at tackle.
That, and there's some newcomers on the front line that could help as well — Nick Oliva and Kalvin Kruz to name a couple.
Getting back to the secondary, though….it's one unit that had some star quality in past years when you consider players such as Davon House, Donyae Coleman and Jonte Green. This year, it could play more as a unit, and by committee.
One key note concerning the defense: Sophomore defensive end Stephen Meredith will miss the season with a knee injury.
On our last blog post on Aggie football, we touched on filling the offensive void left by departed running back Kenny Turner and wide receiver Taveon Rogers.
Well, the Aggies have also lost a good deal of leadership from last year in general.
When you consider the two players listed above, quarterback Matt Christian, wide receiver Todd Lee and three-fifths of the team's offensive line.
And defensively, players such as Donyae Coleman and Ben Bradley in the secondary, Boyblue Aoelua at linebacker, and defensive linemen such as Pierre Fils and David Mahoney.
The point is, last year's team was actually a veteran group, and replacing such leadership would figure to be a major key going into this season.
Here's a quote from head coach DeWayne Walker about developing such leadership going forward.
“Pete Carroll told me a long time ago, when coaches talk about who's your leaders? You've to to develop leaders. He always felt like it was always the coaches responsibility and I kind of agree with him. Obviously, we want to see what guys emerge as leaders and all that. At the end of the day, I think it's the responsibility of the coaches to lead these guys and get these guys to a level we want to get them too. I'm not really into creating leaders, but I'm more into building and seeing what guys emerge as leaders.”
“Last year, I thought Kenny was really the guy where, when he snapped his fingers, everybody adjusted. I think that Manley will take the responsibility once he comes back. He's not here practicing all the time (right now), so it's hard for him. I think Bryan Bonilla, LaVoy, those are the guys I see being really vocal in terms of just getting these guys going when they need a nice kick in the butt.”
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