September 1, 2009

A&M feels more comfortable on the O-Line

Texas A&M had a ton of problems along the offensive line in 2008 with very little depth and a number of injuries that forced A&M head coach Mike Sherman to find new pieces to the line like a jigsaw puzzle. Each week linemen were in different spots with guards rotating to tackle every week.

It created havoc for the Aggies, which forced quarterback Jerrod Johnson out of the pocket more times than one can count, killed any resemblance of a running game despite an extremely talented group of running backs and allowed a Big 12 conference high of 39 sacks.

This season the Aggies are counting on an influx of talent in the freshmen class, added experience and a transfer to shore up the offensive line. There are still question marks, notably still at both tackle spots, but the Aggies seem to be past the days of putting together a M.A.S.H unit to block up front.

"That left tackle position is obviously one I have concerns about because we had struggled there last year and Danny (Baker) is really the first time he's out there on a full time basis," Sherman said. "I think he'll do a good job, but obviously people put their best pass rusher there to that side so I have concerns there. I'm still concerned about Lee Grimes health and being able to stay healthy, so that concerns me."

Baker won the starting left tackle spot after an extensive search in the offseason that including moving junior Lucas Patterson to left tackle from the defensive line. Patterson had been penciled in as the starter since the 2008 season ended, but lack of depth at defensive tackle and Baker's development led to Patterson moving back to the defensive line with a week left in August training camp.

The Aggies still have depth issues at tackle behind Baker and the oft-injured Grimes with little-used Vincent Williams and junior walk-on Craig Raschke in the two-deep. But the Aggies have two true freshmen in Stephen Barrera and Rhontae Scales who could play the position should they be needed, and starting left guard Michael Shumard, who played left tackle in 2008, has worked some at tackle as well.

But according to A&M's biggest nemesis in August camp, junior Von Miller, Baker will work out just fine.

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