McCoy the mind of the O-line

Mark Passwaters, Publisher
Aggie Yell

The Rolling Stones once said, "you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need." In this case, Texas A&M needs Erik McCoy at center.

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The Aggies spent much of the offseason and at least part of the first three games trying to move McCoy from center -- where he was a freshman All-American in 2016 -- to guard, where he can his brawn to better use.

As it turns out, his brain ended up being more important to the line's success.

"I think (McCoy) moving back to center was a big deal, because targeting becomes a big deal. They were playing an odd front with a lot of players moving around," head coach Kevin Sumlin said after the Aggies ran for more than 200 yards and put up 31 points in the second half of A&M's 45-21 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. "Who’s blocking who changes a bunch in those front and the ability to communicate who’s blocking who before the snap is important."

The original plan was for sophomore Colton Prater to take over the center job, moving McCoy to left guard. Prater and redshirt freshman Ryan McCollum both got playing time at center during a disastrous first half and were ineffective. Once McCoy returned to center, things calmed down and the Aggie offense became more effective.

The redshirt sophomore said ULL was bringing "a lot of funky stuff" at the A&M linemen, which may have contributed to the struggles the less experienced centers endured.

"They were bringing a backer and a safety off the edge and slanting their entire D-line. They were doing that every three plays. They had five down linemen and were twisting a lot," he said. "We had to focus on the twist a lot, because they were doing that a lot in the first half. Coach (Jim) Turner gave us some targets to get at."

McCoy said deciding to keep him at center and adjusting the blocking scheme to counter the Ragin' Cajuns wasn't the only change made at halftime.

"We were very angry. Especially the offensive line," he said. "We didn’t play anywhere near par in the first half and were very angry in the second half."

Whether it was anger or a steady hand at center that helped stabilize the Aggie offensive line, it appears the effort to move McCoy from center is over. But moving around was something McCoy said he didn't mind doing.

:It’s always good to be versatile so if someone goes down, I can substitute or someone else can substitute for them," he said.

A&M now knows there's no substitute for having McCoy at center.

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