Spring football games always are mostly spectacle.
The players will wear uniforms and run out of the tunnel, just like on a fall Saturday. There will be fan events inside and outside the stadium. But no self-respecting coach will ever tip his hand in the spring by having his team show off new plays and formations that they’ve worked on for the past six weeks.
Instead, they’ll offer fans a taste to keep them tantalized until August.
Then there’s Texas A&M. Just the presence of Jimbo Fisher, the Aggies’ new $75 million coach, represents substance. The guy who replaced Kevin Sumlin in December will be the main attraction for A&M fans in Saturday’s annual Maroon-White game.
Fisher is fanning sky-high expectations by openly asking for 100,000 fans to fill Kyle Field.
But he’ll also tamp down on what the faithful will see on the field. He says 15 spring practices weren’t enough.
“I wish we had about 15 more days,” Fisher told reporters this week. “Then we’d have a chance. One more spring and we’d be good. We’re really starting to pick those things up. There will be a lot more for them to work on in the summer. But I’m proud of them. The effort has been good. Our execution, where we’re at, we’ve got a lot of work to do. But the attitude and work ethic is good.”
Fisher had his seniors draft two teams to face each other in the scrimmage. There really won’t be a solidified depth chart, at least not one Fisher publicly will reveal. The Aggies do have experience returning from last year’s 7-6 team. A&M lost only three starters on offense and three on defense.
But Fisher said all starting jobs were open. And he has used the spring to introduce his pro-style offense.
Meanwhile, Mike Eiko, the new defensive coordinator, relies on the same 4-2-5 attack the Aggies used under John Chavis, so there has been some familiarity.
Eiko hasn’t been available to the media, but he said in an interview posted on the Aggies’ official website: “I’m going to be demanding. We’re going to coach ball the right way. We’re going to get this defense rolling, the way people around here are used to seeing it back in the day when A&M was playing some good ball.”
The greatest question marks, as always, remain about who will be the starting quarterback. The Aggies had two of them last year — Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond. Both will be sophomores this fall.
Starkel and Connor Blumrick will play for the Maroon team Saturday. Mond is on the White.
Earlier in the spring, they made their first-ever media appearance. Starkel, who probably has the edge, said Fisher has been active in the film room with the quarterbacks.
“We would have two-word plays, and everyone knew what to do in our whole offense,” Starkel said of last year’s offense under Sumlin. “Now it’s a paragraph when you’re saying a play, and then it’s a check and then another paragraph. … It makes you really want to play for him. It makes you really want to compete for him. That’s what I really like about him.”
Fisher said he wants the players to show passion and effort in the scrimmage.
“I hope two teams will come out there really ready to compete and play their tails off and represent themselves and these fans and people here and Texas A&M with great effort, great toughness. Just play football the way it’s supposed to be played,” he said.
“There’s going to be mistakes. Just move on and play the next play. If something good happens, process it and move on. If something bad happens, learn not to let one bad thing become two bad things. Manage the crisis. Go out there, enjoy, finalize the spring and have fun out there.”
Maroon-White game, 4 p.m. Saturday, Kyle Field, SEC Network