The Texas A&M football program made significant strides in 2006, winning nine games, beating Texas in Austin for the first time since 1994, and earning a spot in the Holiday Bowl. While all facets of A&M's game improved last season, the bread and butter of that team was the relentless ground attack spearheaded by the shifty Michael Goodson and the bruising power runner Jorvorskie Lane.
The two running backs split time in the backfield, but their different styles compliment each other and the results are evident on the stat sheet. In 2006, Lane and Goodson combined for 1572 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, courtesy of Lane's 19 romps to paydirt which set a Texas A&M single season record. However, heading into his junior campaign, Lane isn't satisfied with those numbers.
"My goal is to rush for 1000 yards and 24 touchdowns," Lane said. "As a team we're going to dominate like we do. We're going to run the ball. We're going to pass the ball. I might get 30 carries, Mike might get 20. Mike might get 30 carries, I might get 20 and then Steve (Stephen McGee). We're going to put it all together."
While a platoon situation might cause problems in the backfield for some runners, Lane sees it as an asset to have two diversified ground weapons on the same team.
"I loved splitting carries with Mike. Opposing defenses really couldn't make up their mind what they wanted to do. I could go outside if I wanted to, but most of the time they're worried about me going inside and that's what opened up Mike," Lane said. "Mike and I help each other and keep the defense on their toes. They have to concentrate on the middle and the outside. If they try to put nine in the box, that's where Michael comes in. If they try to spread us out that's where I come in."
The numbers from the 2006 season seem to back up Lane's comments as A&M's ground game gained 2689 yards, good for eighth in the nation overall and second in the Big 12 behind only Oklahoma. In 2007, almost the entire package returns with Stephen McGee, Goodson, and Lane back along with four starting offensive linemen that will enter their third year on the first team. That has Lane and company very confident about the 2007 season.
"We've got the best offense in the country. We have the best (running backs) in the country too. That's how you're supposed to think," Lane explained. "But we're nothing without the offensive line. That's the heart of our offense. Without the OL, I wouldn't have had 19 touchdowns last year."
While nobody doubts the Lufkin native's ability to run the ball and score touchdowns, the most often asked question this summer in College Station is about his weight as opposed to how many touchdowns he'll score in 2007 after Lane appeared heavier in the Holiday Bowl against California. He gained 36 yards on only seven carries and did not reach the end zone against the Golden Bears.
Lane weighed in at 282 after the Holiday Bowl and has lost around 15 pounds in the offseason, now weighing in at 268.
"That's the lowest I've been for a long, long time," Lane said. "It has a lot to do with my strength and conditioning coach Rod Cole and (dietician) Amy Bragg. She changed my diet a lot. It wasn't the fact that I was eating a lot. It was just the wrong choices that I was eating. I had to make some sacrifices and one day this may pay off."
Lane already sees a difference for the better.
"I picked up a little more speed, but I don't think I lost any power," Lane said. "We'll see tomorrow I guess (when the team practices with the pads for the first time)."
Lane is going through his third preseason practice, but this is the first year of the McFerrin Athletic Center. The junior running back sees the advantages of working out indoors, but also realizes the reality that the team will be playing in the teeth of the Texas September heat.
"We chose this sport in the 7th or 8th grade and we're in Texas, so you've gotta go through it (heat). The indoor facility helps us a lot. Coach Fran is using it to our advantage," Lane said. "We go half periods indoors but we can't beat the heat so we have to get used to the heat. We play Fresno at 2:30. We play Texas at 2:30. Coach knows what to do with it. He's not going to wear us out. He's going to use the indoor facility to our advantage."
Regardless of the heat or his weight, one thing for sure is Lane will hit somebody and deliver his share of punishment, just ask Texas defensive back Michael Griffin. In the process, the fleet-footed big man will gain a lot of important yards between the tackles and will open up the rest of the offense for his backfield mates Goodson and McGee.
And if there's a short yardage situation, expect to see the big man carrying the load and moving the chains. When asked if he can be stopped in short yardage opportunities, Lane made it very clear, "Nope."
Fall Practice-Day 2: Lane ready to carry load
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