The start of fall football camp in early August -- it's the best of times, it's the worst of times. Football is in the air, but it is meaningless football for yet another long month before the season finally starts. Too often, we get so excited by football's return that we fall into the deadly trap of preseason over-hype.
Here is a protip -- everyone is going to look good the first few days of fall camp. They should, as they're practicing in shorts and a t-shirt. Hearing that player X looks incredibly built after spending some time in the weight room and could be in line for a monster season or that player Y looks to be really progressing in the system after a disappointing season is really nice and encouraging, but it means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. It's just noise.
Here is the hard truth (ready for the Debbie Downer?) -- the practice reports you'll read for about the next two weeks will hold little to no meaningful information, unless it is dealing with some sort of injury. Most of the depth chart, the juicy information we are all waiting for, won't take shape until the team gets a week or so in pads and after participating in a couple of inter-squad scrimmages. That will allow for the "cream", or our best players, to rise to the top, and give the coaches enough film to actually evaluate the roster and see where the team stands at certain areas. That will be in about two weeks. See you then!
We are here to help you not get caught up in the nonsense, so here are the main three storylines you should be paying attention to that will have the greatest impact on Texas A&M's 2015 season.
Who Plays Corner Opposite De'Vante Harris?
The weakest unit overall on the Texas A&M roster in 2015 will end up being the corners. That's a little hard to imagine when the Aggies have seen an influx of talent at the position including Nick Harvey, Tavares Garner and Victor Davis, but none of these players have stepped up as of yet to fill the void opposite senior De'Vante Harris. Brandon Williams decided to try his hand at playing corner this fall, perhaps signaling how desperate the coaches are to find anyone who can play the position. One 'wild card' and bright spot is Noel Ellis returns after missing all of last season, and could give the Aggies a solid nickel corner. It's going to be interesting watching this storyline develop, as Aggie defensive coordinator John Chavis has always had solid corner play in his defense. Can the move to a more press-cover man style help the group? Only time will tell.
Will the Offensive Line Execute the Power Run Scheme?
The hiring of Dave Christensen as offensive line coach signaled a change in philosophy for the Texas A&M offense, as they committed to a power-gap running attack and moved away from the more finesse zone run scheme seen under B.J. Anderson. Aggie fans will no longer after to worry about the offensive line working in unison to move defenders off the ball, as the change in scheme will mean a shift to a 'hat-on-a-hat' style, asking the offensive lineman to beat his assignment man on man. Due to injuries during the spring, we really didn't get a good feel for what this offensive line might look like under Christensen. The starting group most likely will have some type of combination between Ifedi-Eluemunor-Matthews-Cheek-Gennesy, unless Koda Martin or Jeremiah Stuckey sneak their way into the starting five after solid springs. The biggest question will be who starts at left tackle -- Avery Gennesy who seems like the natural fit, or Germain Ifedi who might have been promised a good shot at the job for returning to school. If Ifedi does win the job, will he struggle on the left side after spending all of his career on the right side, much like Cedric Ogbuehi in 2014? Here is one thing we know for sure: offensive line play in 2015 will determine whether or not this Aggie football team is ready to take the next step and become one of the SEC elites.
Can the Linebackers Stay Healthy?
There is no doubt in my mind that Texas A&M finally has a talented linebacker core, with names like Otaro Alaka, Josh Walker, A.J. Hilliard, Shaan Washington, and newcomer Claude George. We finally have depth! Here is the one concern with the group -- can they stay healthy to play? Each linebacker missed at least some time in 2014 due to an injury. Will we experience the same problem in 2015, quickly changing the depth situation? After those five, A&M only has three true freshman who could play the position, and the coaches would ideally like to redshirt all three. If multiple injuries occur here, A&M could find themselves right where they have been for the past two seasons -- trying to find any warm body to play linebacker. The group has a ton of potential, but their biggest hurdle is staying on the field.
Happy fall camping!