Jimbo Fisher's motor revved up for next week's season opener

Texas A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher gestures during the Aggies' press conference Thursday at the Bright Complex.

Let's just say Jimbo Fisher is pumped about the season opener against Northwestern State being less than a week away.

"Finally, we got to game week," Fisher said as he opened his Thursday press conference at the Bright Complex.

Seemingly, he didn't breath again for 20 minutes.

It took Texas A&M's first-year head football coach almost four minutes to answer the first question concerning which players have jumped out on video this fall who maybe didn't in the spring. Now four minutes isn't long by normal coach-speak standards, but Fisher has a gear few coaches can match. Thursday, he was in midseason form.

Fisher started answering by highlighting the improved play by the safeties then went through the entire team by groups, ending with special teams. Fisher named 31 players, and that didn't include sophomores Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond, though he praised the play of the pair who are battling for the starting quarterback spot.

"I know I'm going through everybody, but I could go across the board and I mean that," Fisher said at one point.

He wasn't just spitting out names. He intertwined 20- to 25-second spurts of information around those names. Fisher kept firing, not even falling into filibuster mode when asked about the allegations by former linebacker Santino Marchiol.

Fisher tackled the question and the follow-up head-on in 24 succinct seconds, saying what he and his program does is an open book.

If Marchiol's lawyer or the NCAA request any audio records between Fisher and his staff, they better have a good stenographer.

Depth chart

A&M has a depth chart in its game notes for next Thursday's opener, and only one starting position other than quarterback has yet to be determined. Sophomores Quartney Davis and Camron Buckley are vying for one of the wide receiver spots.

The lone returning offensive starters not listed with the first unit are senior right guard Connor Lanfear and sophomore center Ryan McCollum. Lanfear is listed behind Jared Hocker, one of three sophomores starting in the offensive line along with left tackle Dan Moore Jr. and right tackle Carson Green. Lanfear has 19 career starts. Hocker, Moore and Green have combined for only seven starts. McCollum, who started six games last season, is behind junior center Erik McCoy, who has started a team-high 26 games.

The lone returning defensive starter not listed on the first team is linebacker Buddy Johnson, who is behind fellow sophomore Anthony Hines III. Hines, though, is out with an injury. Johnson and junior Larry Pryor are listed as either/or behind Hines. Johnson made five starts last season. Pryor has made eight career starts in the secondary but can play closer to the line of scrimmage in the 4-2-5 alignment used by new coordinator Mike Elko.

Fish will swim

Fisher said he'll play the majority of A&M's true freshmen this season, saying he probably played 75 percent of the true freshman during his time at Florida State, the exceptions typically being linemen.

This is the first season a freshman can play up to four games and still be able to count the season as a redshirt year. Fisher said playing freshmen early helps later when injuries happen.

Et cetera

Starkel joked the other day that when coaches showed the special teams depth chart he was listed fourth and Mond fifth at holder.

"I said to Kellen, 'Have you even practiced holding?' Starkel said. "He said, 'No.' I said, 'Neither have I.'"

A&M junior running back Trayveon Williams and senior place-kicker Daniel LaCamera were second-team picks on the All-Southeastern Conference coaches preseason team. Senior defensive lineman Landis Durham, junior center Erik McCoy and junior punter Braden Mann were third-team picks.

Georgia had a league-best 12 players selected, but Alabama had the most on the first team with five and another five on the second team.

Robert Cessna's email address is robert.cessna@theeagle.com.

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