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Sherman looks ahead

Aggie head coach has high hopes for season

The Battalion

Published: Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07

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April Baltensperger — THE BATTALION

A&M Head Coach Mike Sherman watches his offensive linemen during blocking drills Tuesday at the Coolidge practice fields. The Aggies begin the 2010 campaign against Stephen F. Austin at 6 p.m. Sept. 4 at Kyle Field.

It was an up and down, topsy-turvy 2009 season for A&M Head Coach Mike Sherman. The team strung together some wins to begin the season, suffered a couple blowout losses to Kansas State, Oklahoma and Arkansas, surprised Texas Tech in Lubbock and nearly defeated arch-rival Texas in the annual Thanksgiving showdown.

Now, Sherman returns, equipped with the conference's preseason offensive and defensive players of the year and a whole lot of expectations. There's a lot different from this time last year, and Sherman thinks his team's newfound swagger has something to do with it.

"The energy and passion right now and the swagger they're developing is something I haven't seen since I've been here," Sherman said. "I want us to mature as a football team. We lacked maturity in tough situations last year. We couldn't finish things off. And when things went bad, we weren't as good as I'd like us to be."

Sherman said there are a lot of areas on the mental side where this particular team needs to improve.

"Our guys need to handle the adversity a little bit better," he said. "We have to think we're good enough to beat anybody, and I'm not sure the last two years our guys or fans felt like that. We need to feel like we can go into Austin, Lubbock, Norman and Stillwater and win. And believe it. And not to be arrogant about it, but there's a certain swagger you have to have when you play this game. A quiet confidence. A calm-among-crisis type of attitude that we can handle anything."

The offensive player of the year, Jerrod Johnson, returns for his senior season; and despite the accolades, Sherman sees areas where he can improve.

"One thing about Jerrod is when you tell him to work on something, he really works on it," Sherman said. "He really spends time to improve in areas that he needs to improve. Because he's long-legged, he can be a little wide with his base, so he throws with his arm and shoulder. He's got to play with a more narrow base."

"I will say that he takes to coaching as well as anybody I've ever been around, and he really works on things and he's addressed the issues he's worked on. And when he has a weakness, he tries to turn it into a strength."

A story through fall camp has been the implementation of defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter's attacking, 3-4 scheme. Sherman said he likes the way DeRuyter coaches and feels like the players have bought into the defense.

"He's very intelligent," Sherman said. "He's had a system, and he stayed with it. Every defense has its strength and its weaknesses, but it's up to the coach to know what they are and then when someone is attacking your weaknesses, to be able to counteract that. To see he's been in this same structure impresses me; and every place he's been, he's developed defenses from one stage of development to another stage of development."

The Aggies also have quite the compliment of skill position players. The running back situation — with Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray expected to split time — is something Sherman is excited about.

"Cyrus is a consistent, every day, come to work, lunch bucket type of guy who does whatever you ask him to do," Sherman said. "He's developed into a instinctive player. And Mike is more explosive out of his stance. But they're both very similar. Both can catch the football, and both are competitive. To top it off, the two are best friends. It's really a tremendous opportunity to have this situation, and I take my hat off to both guys."

With football season less than two weeks away, Sherman is working overtime to bring A&M football back to prominence. And as glamorous as a college coaching job may sound on paper, the hours and stress can add up. Sherman is at the office on a typical Monday from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

But with a 10-15 overall record as Aggie coach and a fanbase with growing expectations, he knows it'll all be worth it to win.

"I just think that A&M is a sleeping giant," Sherman said. "We've got tremendous potential. I want to do something special and do something here that needs to be done: to get us to be a national power. And I feel we're headed that way, and I think we're close."

"I believe in this school. I believe what it stands for. I raised my kids on the principles and coached on the principles learned at A&M. And I've got a pretty good idea of what Aggies want from their football team."


 

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