Aggie football practice

Texas A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher instructs his team during practice on Wednesday.

Four days after cutting practice short in frustration over the Texas A&M football team’s lack of effort and focus, head coach Jimbo Fisher was cracking jokes Monday, the same day the preseason AP Top 25 was released. The Aggies were slotted at No. 12, a spot lower than the first coaches’ poll.

“We already dropped,” Fisher said with a laugh.

On the other hand, Fisher said A&M’s focus and effort on the practice field have been on the rise since he sent the players home early Thursday.

That included fall camp’s second scrimmage Sunday. Fisher said the focus was primarily on situational football, forcing younger players to think through potential situations they may find themselves in this season.

“I thought it was a lot better,” Fisher said. “I think they understood the urgency and I understood the physicality in which we got to play with.”

Offensively at quarterback, redshirt freshman James Foster and true freshman Zach Calzada spent time running the first and second team during the scrimmage.

“I didn’t scrimmage Kellen and Connor as much in that scenario because I wanted to see [the freshmen],” Fisher said. “I wanted to see them in some really tough situations with some really good people on the other side and how they reacted.”

As for A&M being ranked in the Top 25 preseason polls for the first time since 2014, Fisher said he’s seen glimmers of a team poised for a big season, but more consistency is what he’s looking for as A&M exits fall practice and enters game preparation.

“I can see that team,” Fisher said. “We’re not that team yet. Maybe we’re better. I think we have good enough players it’s just a matter of how we execute and get all the details.”

Battle at center

 Former Texas A&M center Erik McCoy has already begun to make his mark for the New Orleans Saints after leaving school early for the 2019 NFL Draft.

His void seemed a natural fit for junior Ryan McCollum, who finished spring ball as the team’s offensive most valuable player. However, a race is on through fall camp for the starting job between McCollum and senior Colton Prater, Fisher said.

“Prater and McCollum, both – it’s like having two starters,” Fisher said.

Prater took advantage of some first-team reps given to him because of some bumps and bruises suffered by McCollum, Fisher said.

Prater has seen action in 34 games, including 15 starts and is one of the few veterans on this Aggie squad.

“Prater is like a pitbull dog,” Fisher said. “He just fights, scratches and claws. He’s quick and athletic and just competes.”

Both are also taking reps at tackle to give veteran depth to the offensive line, Fisher said.

NOTES — Fisher said the team escaped the second fall scrimmage in good health, unlike the first that saw tight end Baylor Cupp suffer a broken ankle. … Linebacker Anthony Hines did not participate as a precaution to recover from a “tweak,” but will be back in practice Tuesday, Fisher said. A&M will open the season Aug. 29 against Texas State at Kyle Field.

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