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Aggies adjust to Sumlin style

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07

football

Roger Zhang — THE BATTALION

Freshman place kicker Taylor Bertolet practices field goals during spring training Monday afternoon.

In the first public intra-squad scrimmage of the season Friday night, senior wide receiver Ryan Swope took a routine bubble screen 75 yards downfield to the painted grass. The completed pass was due in large part to a well-placed block from sophomore receiver Mike Evans, a 6-foot 5-inch physical specimen who didn’t see the field last season but has left the new coaching staff impressed. Swope said Evans’ play embodied the message that new head coach Kevin Sumlin has preached since day one in Aggieland.

“That’s the attitude we have to have out there on the field,” Swope said. “Everyone’s got to block, everyone’s got to do the little things to be a great football team.”

Things look different around the A&M practice fields, and it’s not just the SEC logos emblazoned on the siding of the facility’s walls. Sumlin’s spread offense has forced the entire team to ramp up its conditioning.

“It’s still tough, but we’ve gotten a lot more used to it,” said senior defensive back Steven Terrell. “We’ve gotten in shape and progressed, and now we can actually get lined up to it and do a little more. It’s good but we’ve still got some ways to go lining up, but I think we’ve made big strides.”

Sumlin’s style is serious on the field and goofy off it, Terrell said, and Swope described him as a fun coach to play for.

“He’s got a lot of energy,” Swope said. “He’s got that mentality of getting better every day and really pushing us to be the best we can be. He really emphasizes that with us and we’re going to go out there and put in that effort that he wants.”

Terrell mentioned the team’s tandem of young corners, sophomores Deshazor Everett and Floyd Raven, has given the receiving corps fits at times.

“Deshazor’s done really well,” Terrell said. “He’s a big hitter, a real physical corner. Him and Floyd I think are doing a really good job outside.”

Another bright spot on the defensive side has been the play of junior Toney Hurd Jr., who could conceivably see playing time this season at the safety, nickel and cornerback positions.

“Hurd’s like the jack of all trades — he can do everything for us. Hurd’s probably had the best [spring] so far if you ask me. He’s making a lot of plays out there. He’s just gotten a lot better as a whole. There’s a lot of good things coming for us,” Terrell said.

The question on everyone’s mind, of course, is which quarterbacks will be taking snaps at the beginning of the season. Sumlin said that all four candidates have improved but have much to learn about mastering the nuances of his and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.

“The first thing a guy’s got to understand is his limitations,” Sumlin said. “And a bunch of quarterbacks don’t do that. Most of them don’t think they have any limitations, and that’s a good thing. But you’ve got to understand, too, that there are 10 other guys out there who can play.”

Saturday’s annual Maroon and White game, which begins at 1 p.m. and is open to the public, gives another stage for the quarterbacks, as well as players at every position, to step up and prove their mettle.

“It’ll be the offense vs. the defense basically and we’ll go ones vs. twos to try to keep some continuity on both sides,” Sumlin said. “It also allows us to rotate some guys who are twos to ones just to get another good look at them, and some of the guys that are ones to twos if they’re not holding up what they’re doing in the game.”

Swope said he’s looking forward to seeing how his teammates’ diligent work throughout spring football translates into a game situation.

“All the guys are kind of blossoming right now,” Swope said. “They’re all showing good things out there on the field.”

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