Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Aggie football: Spring practice notes

Yes, I realize we’ve been harping on the offensive line here in recent days, although it's for good reason.

This is a unit of utmost importance, perhaps most important when constructing a football team. And while the Aggies do have questions at a handful of positions on this year's spring depth chart, the offensive front is one that continues to look good during workouts.

It was evident during last Saturday’s spring session, when the Aggies broke into the Oklahoma Drill and players along the offensive line stood out. Senior center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke looked good in run-blocking, and the coaching staff is high on a handful of young players on the unit. Head coach Doug Martin and offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon have both mentioned Thomas McGwire as a player they believe has a bright future. Brandon also said Peter Foreman has played well during spring practices.

And, as mentioned last week, the team returns Ume-Ezeoke, flanked by last year’s starting guards Abram Holland and Isaiah Folasa-Lutui. Andy Cunningham will be back in the fall and is a player the Aggies have started at guard and tackle over recent seasons.

The one area the program must get solidified is left tackle. While Matt Ramondo started spring practices atop the depth chart at that spot, he’s also been playing at guard during spring drills.

“If we’re going to turn this thing around, it starts up front,” Brandon said following last Friday’s practice session.

Certainly that’s a good place to start building a foundation.


The other good spot to start building a football foundation? That would be quarterback, of course.

The Aggies have in fact moved King Davis III from QB to running back on their spring roster, and he has been playing there during recent spring workouts. That leaves junior college transfer Tyler Rogers taking plenty of snaps this spring.

Rogers, who’s listed at 6-foot-3 on the Aggie roster, has looked fine making many throws during practices - showing a quick release and nice touch.

Of course, there’s certain intangibles that are difficult to quantify at the present time. One of which is, how will a quarterback hold up against a pass rush - a quality that separates many QBs from the rest of the pack. Also, the Aggies are practicing a large amount of zone-read in their running game, indicating the quarterback will have to do some things with his legs to help the team’s effort in the rushing attack.

Rogers started one season at Arizona Western before transferring to NMSU. He will be entering his sophomore season of eligibility, while the team is also bringing in five freshmen this fall to compete for the quarterback job.


Speaking of former Aggie quarterbacks, as written previously, Davis has been taking snaps at running back during recent spring workouts.

He certainly is a terrific athlete, and could be used in the role of H-back or slotback - perhaps not necessarily a 30-carry per game runner, but one the team looks to get in space and to the second level of a defense.


And, again, speaking of former quarterbacks, Travaughn Colwell is lining up at safety for NMSU during spring workouts.

It’s astounding that Colwell is already a senior, as he’s truly played all over the field during recent years. From quarterback his first two seasons with the team, to running back/wide receiver last year, and now to defensive back this spring.

Colwell is also a tremendous athlete and has some physicality to his game. He’s listed at 6-foot-3 - he can run and has range - meaning he has the attributes to play in the defensive backfield. With that being said, he’s also never played the position before, at least not on the college level.

During a recent practice, Colwell put a big hit on a ball carrier, as teammates and coaches gathered around him in celebration. Certainly one would figure Colwell would be eager to get on the field this season, after experiencing such a sporadic and ever-changing role during recent years.


Wide receivers coach R. Todd Littlejohn said the team is hopeful that Greg Hogan can supply some big-play pop at the wide receiver position. He also said Teldrick Morgan, who will be a redshirt sophomore in 2014, also has the potential to fill such a role.

“I think if those two come around, now you’ve solidified the group in general,” Littlejohn said last weekend.

He would continue on Hogan, “He’s got kind of a combination of different things. He can make people miss in the open field. He has the ability to take a simple play on the long run. He can also stretch the field. He kind of gives you a little bit of everything that way.”

Here’s a story that appeared in Sunday’s Las Cruces Sun-News on Aggie wide receiver Adam Shapiro, and the entire unit in general.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Watched yesterday's practice. Hogan looks really raw. Drops too many passes and runs sloppy routes. He has potential, but teh seniors all look WAY BETTER!. Saw Shapiro take a 5 yard hitch to the house!!! F-A-S-T!!!