Sherman staying the course

The Aggies are 1/3 of the way through the 2008 season, and by most fans' accounts, it's been a total bust so far. But Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman discusses his thoughts on his team four games into his debut season.

Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman was brought to Aggieland with one goal in mind—turn the program around and get the Aggies back into national relevance. But through the first four games of the season, it's clear that Sherman and Co. have a long way to go.

But Sherman is proud of the way his players are fighting, despite the fact that they're going to be overmatched in terms of talent as Big 12 play begins this weekend at Oklahoma State.

"I think they're competing," Sherman said. "Coming out of the Arkansas State game, I didn't think we competed at a level we should have. I felt like that second half we were all waiting for someone else to win the game instead of doing their job to win the game. But I felt like the last couple of weeks that the team is competing. Is it perfect? Is it good enough? Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not."

And while the Aggies are competing, they're still not where Sherman wants them to be.

"Is it where I want it to be? No, I'd rather be 4-0 right now. But I see us making progress and getting better," Sherman said. "When you come in (as a new head coach) it's a whole new culture no matter who the coach is, everyone does things differently. There's been some change in transition. I hope we'll continue to improve week in and week out."

And while it's obvious to most diehard fans, Sherman would not throw any of his players under the bus, saying that he wouldn't trade any of his players for anyone else.

"I think every coach is always looking to be more talented but this is our football team. I wouldn't trade them for anybody," he said. "We're going out there to win football games with the team that we have. We're not measured individually, we're measured as a football team."

One of the biggest surprises through the Aggies' non-conference portion of the schedule though is the play of the offense. A&M is ranked dead last in the Big 12 in all major offensive statistic categories, which is surprising considering the athletes they have at running back.

But Sherman said it's hard to get production out of your star running backs like Mike Goodson and receivers like Jeff Fuller if your offensive line is not able to block effectively on a consistent basis.

"I think there were times during the season where blocking and running I thought we did very well and Mike did very well," Sherman said. "We weren't as good in the second half of Arkansas State as he should have been, but that might have been as much because of us blocking for him as it was him. I thought he competed extremely well against Miami. I thought he was a big difference in that game."

Goodson carried the ball just 16 times against Miami, which is much less than Sherman would like to see.

One bright spot that showed up at the end of the Army game was the return of Jorvorskie Lane as a ball carrier. Lane has been used less this year in his new position at fullback, but he showed that he's still capable of carrying the ball on Saturday—albeit against a worn-down Army defense late in the ball game.

Sherman said he was aware of Lane's ability from watching film from last season.

"I thought he showed a very good presence out there. He ran hard and with authority," Sherman said. "He wasn't worn out and played like a fresh back would play. He had nice pad level, and moved the pile.

"He has phenomenal hands and very good feet," Sherman said. "In my conversation with him yesterday I told him he did a great job of running but we need to work on the blocking aspect. If you're not displacing people, you might as well put another defensive lineman in there."

Sherman did not promise more playing time for Lane though, adding that he is in the short-yardage packages, but the Aggies have not seen many of those opportunities while Lane has been healthy.

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