Sherman using old-school approach

By Austin Meek
The Capital-Journal
Published Thursday, August 28, 2008

It almost seems out of place in this era of spread offenses, shotgun sets and five-wide receiver formations.

Mike Sherman wants to run the football. Out of the I-formation, no less.


Storyline: New coach Mike Sherman will look to revamp an Aggie program that slipped behind its Big 12 South rivals.

Numbers crunch: 7 — Criteria used to select Reveille VIII, the Topeka-born collie who now serves as A&M's mascot. (Criteria included "healthy," "not afraid of people" and "positively motivated.")

Opener: Saturday vs. Arkansas State

Sherman, the first-year coach at Texas A&M, brought an extensive NFL resume to College Station. He also brought a pro-style playbook compiled during coaching stops with the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans.

While teams from Lubbock to Lawrence will be spreading the field this fall, the Aggies will opt for a more traditional approach. Offensive tackle Travis Schneider called it smash-mouth football, a kind of power running game that seemed virtually extinct in the Big 12.

"It might be old-school," Schneider said, "but it works."

But will it work in College Station? Much will depend on the development of the offensive line, a unit that returns only one starter. The Aggies had just eight scholarship offensive linemen in spring camp, all of them recruited to play in Dennis Franchione's option attack.

"Whether you're running an option-style offense or pro-style offense, you still have to be good in the offensive line," Sherman said. "We lost some good players off of last year's squad. We're going to be very inexperienced and young."

That won't be the case in the backfield, as the Aggies return their top three rushers from a year ago. The trio of Stephen McGee, Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane combined to rush for 2,390 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2007, though all three will be playing different roles in Sherman's pro-style offense.

Goodson will be the feature back. McGee, the quarterback, will rely more on his arm and less on his legs. And Lane, the Aggies' 285-pound bruiser, will play fullback instead of tailback.

"He presents a lot of qualities that you look for," Sherman said. "In this offense, you want your fullback to be able to catch the football. He gives us a double threat as a runner and also as a receiver.

"His blocking, he's not had to do that very often. But because of his size he should be able to engulf people as well, just mass-on-mass."

Trimming some of that mass has been a goal for Sherman, who said he wants Lane's playing weight in the 260s.

Lane also has been dealing with lingering headaches after suffering a stinger in practice Aug. 13. He is questionable for the Aggies' season opener against Arkansas State.

While much of the emphasis will be on the running game, Sherman also knows a thing or two about quarterbacks, having coached a decent one in Green Bay.

McGee is no Brett Favre, but Sherman said the senior has tools to flourish in the pro-style scheme, despite his reputation as a runner.

"He's a guy that I think has a future playing football after Texas A&M," Sherman said. "He prepares himself that way. I always look at guys like, 'Are they pros or not pros?' He's a professional in what he does for us, on and off the field."

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