Third down? Not a problem for Aggies

Miami head coach Randy Shannon said that Miami needs to put A&M in third down and long situations. But is that really going to stop the A&M offense? Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp takes a look at the Aggies on third down this year, and gets player reaction to Shannon's comments.

Whether he knows it or not, Miami head coach Randy Shannon may have inspired the Texas A&M offense with his comments at Monday's press conference.

"They try to run the ball, keep the running game going," Shannon said. "If you get them in third down situations, you get them in situations they don't like. Their passing concepts are not exotic and something you have to worry about."

When that statement was relayed to a couple of players at A&M's Monday afternoon press conference, they didn't quite know how to respond.

"That's just a challenge for us," said Aggie quarterback Stephen McGee. "We just want to go play football and hopefully, we'll let the way we play speak for itself."

For the most part, the Aggies have done just that through the first three weeks of the season—at least as far as third-down conversions are concerned.

A&M may not be lighting up their opponents through the air like Hawaii or Texas Tech, but converting on third down has not been a problem for the Aggies—despite being labeled as a one-dimensional team who doesn't throw the ball down field.

The Aggies are No. 6 in the nation in third-down conversion percentage, averaging a success rate of 55.3 percent (26-of-47). In short-yardage situations (third and four or less), the Aggies are almost automatic, converting 14-of-18 opportunities (77.8 percent).

A&M's 275-pound running back Jorvorskie Lane is a big reason for that success, going a perfect five-for-five on third down conversions of two yards or less so far this year. Three of those runs also resulted in an A&M touchdown.

"(Lane) is a big guy who likes to run inside, a downhill type runner," Shannon said. "If we can make him go sideways, and keep him going sideways (we'll be okay)."

But even in long yardage situations, the Aggies have still been fairly effective on third down, converting 12-of-29 third down attempts on third-and-five or longer (41.4 percent).

But senior offensive lineman Kirk Elder said he understood why Shannon would have the perception that he does, but refused to say much about his statement.

"I'm not going to get into a fight with the (Miami) head coach," Elder kidded with reporters. "That's out of my league."

If the Aggies continue their success on third down at the Orange Bowl on Thursday night, Shannon may find out that he was out of his league.

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