NCAA FB

Gray uses "dark side" to excel for No. 8 Texas A&M

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)

(Eds: Adds details; quotes. With AP Photos.)By KRISTIE RIEKENAP Sports Writer

With his big smile and easygoing demeanor, Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray comes across as one of the nicest guys on the team.

Don't be fooled.

''I'm a competitor just like any other guy,'' he said. ''When I'm not winning or I'm not happy about something, I tend to go to the dark side and try to get the guys going.''

So what does going to the dark side entail?

''Running harder, running smarter, just having that swag about me that I can't be touched,'' he said.

No. 8 Texas A&M could probably use that side of him on Saturday when the Aggies face No. 7 Oklahoma State in what could be an offensive shootout.

Gray, a senior, has gotten off to a solid start this season and has 233 yards rushing with four touchdowns and 62 yards receiving with another score. He ran for 101 yards in A&M's 37-7 win over Idaho last week to extend his streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games to nine, dating back to last season. The school record is 10, set by Darren Lewis in 1988.

Gray is proud of his rushing streak, but says he doesn't worry about the possibility of keeping it going throughout the season.

''Not at all,'' he said. ''The goal is to win all year. That's the main goal.''

Oklahoma State is 82nd in the country in rush defense, allowing more than 171 yards a game. That number could be a bit misleading in that the Cowboys allowed just 42 yards rushing against Arizona, but a whopping 365 yards rushing in a 59-33 win over Tulsa last week.

But Gray isn't focused on the yardage Oklahoma State gave up last week. He's worried about the four fumbles the Cowboys forced in that game.

''It's something that's ingrained in our offense and our mindset every day. That's the main thing, ball security,'' he said. ''We'll have to carry it high and tight.''

Gray is a favorite of Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman and he is never short on compliments for the running back. But of all the qualities Sherman admires in Gray, it's his mastery of the basics that impress him most.

''The thing I like best is he's assignment-correct and holds on to the football consistently,'' Sherman said. ''He did put one on the ground in the first ball game that we were fortunate to get back, but he's pretty ball-secure. That's the number one priority you're looking for out of a running back.''

Gray has stood out in the early part of this season as the star on an offense filled with playmakers. He said it gives him an extra confidence to know that if things aren't going well for him, there are always other players who can pick up the slack.

He's joined in the backfield by Christine Michael, who has 116 yards rushing and two scores in the first two games this season in his return after breaking his leg last October. The Aggies' passing game is averaging more than 311 yards behind quarterback Ryan Tannehill and top receiver Jeff Fuller.

''We've got a lot of guys that can do great things with the ball in their hands and it shows on Saturdays,'' Gray said.

Gray didn't take any time last Saturday to celebrate the win over Idaho. The Cowboys have won three straight over Texas A&M and this is Gray's last chance to get a win in the series.

The last two games have been decided by a total of 10 points, but Gray is still irked by a 56-28 loss in his freshman year in 2008 in which he thought the Cowboys ran up the score. He said the team was offended by Oklahoma State scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including one with less than two minutes remaining, when they were already in control of the game.

''I think we did, especially coach Sherman,'' Gray said when asked if they took offense to the late scoring. ''He's a classy guy and we try to do things the classy way here, so hopefully this year we can get our revenge.''

Tagged: Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas, Cyrus Gray

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