Thursday, April 17, 2014

Aggie football notes: Thoughts and observations from recent scrimmage

The Aggie football team had a solid two hour practice last Saturday that featured a lot of scrimmage work. Here’s some observations from Saturday’s session:

• Thought all units of the offense looked adequate to solid.

The team’s offensive line, as we’ve written before, looked good enough for the Aggies.

At running back, Xavier Hall continued to run well, as did redshirt freshman Marquette Washington.

The team’s wide receiver has looked solid this spring. Aggie coaches have spoken highly of players such as Adam Shapiro and Josh Bowen this spring, while Teldrick Morgan made some plays on the outside.

And quarterback Tyler Rogers made some good throws. The Aggie coaching staff is high on Rogers and he showed good arm strength. During this past week of practice, offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon said he was happy with Rogers’ progress in the Aggie run game.

“I think he’s made decent progress,” Brandon said. “He has a good grasp of most of the offense. I think he does a nice job in the run game, play-actions. He’s just got to keep improving and getting better.”

The transfer from Arizona Western College also tossed some interceptions, mainly when he was on the run or under pressure.

Brandon said following Wedesday’s practice that Rogers simply needs to get better taking care of the football, a natural progression for a player making the transition to Division I football. Rogers will be entering his sophomore year of eligibility in 2014.

“He can’t throw that ball back, inside across his body, to nobody,” Brandon said. “What he got away with in high school, what he got away with in junior college, you can’t get away with in Division I. The players are that much faster, that much more athletic, that much better coached. He’s got to understand that. He’s got a little cowboy in him that way.”

One would think Rogers will be the frontrunner for the starting job heading into the season, considering his experience and the fact he’s received the majority of snaps during spring drills. Of course, the team is bringing in five freshmen to compete for the job as well, so we'll see how things shake out.

• We knew entering spring ball that the Aggie defense would be a major work in progress and it certainly looked that way during Saturday’s scrimmage work.

The Aggies will need to find a pass rush from a defensive front-seven that lost some major pieces this past offseason. Clint Barnard is a returning player, moved from middle linebacker to left defensive end, and he can be solid for the team. On the defensive line, one would think the Aggies will also rely on redshirt junior Stephen Meredith, who suffered a torn ACL at the end of last season and remains out of spring practices. Kalei Aulua is another returning player from last season on the defensive line.

NMSU is hopeful Rodney Butler will continue his progression at middle linebacker after having a nice freshman year in 2013 (39 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a pass breakout). Ditto for Dior Moore, a junior college transfer from Butte College who got some experience from last season.

Saturday’s scrimmage saw the Aggie secondary have two converted quarterbacks getting plenty of work - Travaughn Colwell at free safety, King Davis III at cornerback. For his part, Colwell looks like he could have potential at the position - standing at 6-foot-3, he has the athleticism and range to possibly play a role entering his senior season.

A couple other returning players from last season in the secondary will be Kawe Johnson (he actually showed some playmaking ability last season at safety, with two interceptions and four passes defensed), Thomas Warren and cornerbacks Kadeem Thomas-Davis and Lewis Hill (who’s been out this spring with a shoulder injury).

The team also is bringing in a handful of freshmen for fall camp that will compete for playing time.

“No question,” defensive backs coach Will Martin said. “And that’s what we’re doing here, we’re allowing these guys to compete to see what they can do, so when the freshmen come in we know exactly where they’re at. And then we’ll give those freshmen a chance.”

When asked if the Aggie defense is still working primarily on fundamental football this spring, coordinator Larry Coyer said, “Absolutely. We are for the next two years. We’re not fundamentally very good right now.”


The Aggies will hold their annual spring football game on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Aggie Memorial Stadium. Admission to the game is free.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

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