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Texas A&M Football

Tenth-ranked Aggies ready to open 2020 season with Vanderbilt

September 25, 2020
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In some ways, it’s as if Texas A&M’s 2020 football schedule hasn’t changed.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced a three-week delay, the Aggies are still opening Southeastern Conference play this week against a lightly-regarded opponent projected to finish last in its division.

Originally, the Aggies were slated to play West Division doormat Arkansas on Sept. 26. The reshuffled 10-game, All-SEC schedule beckons East Division whipping boy Vanderbilt to Kyle Field for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.

Vanderbilt is probably weaker than Arkansas. The Commodores graduated their top three players from a team that went 3-9 and was blown out by 4-8 UNLV. The departures included 1,000-yard rushing running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, an NFL third-round draft choice. He’s replaced on the depth chart by senior Jamauri Wake, who’s rushed for fewer than 500 yards in his career.

The departures included 1,000-yard rushing running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, an NFL third-round draft choice. He’s replaced on the depth chart by senior Jamauri Wake...

The offensive line is thin and unproven. The defense allowed 30 points or more in seven games in 2019. Their best safety, Tae Daley, entered the transfer portal two weeks ago.

But Vandy also has a history of sneaking up on an opponent and pulling off an upset. The Commodores defeated Missouri last year. They beat Tennessee in 2018. They even beat Georgia in 2016.

Consequently, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said the Commodores must be taken seriously, especially coach Derek Mason’s defense.

“They’re extremely diverse. Extremely technical. Extremely well-coached,” Fisher said. “Disciplined in what they do. Everything is a fight. (Mason) makes you earn every yard. No gifts.”

Perhaps not. But A&M will be more concerned with its own starting lineup rather than Vandy’s.

The Aggies offensive line has to show improvement over last season’s form. The secondary must play better. The receivers… well, just must play.

Leading receiver Jhamon Ausbon opted out three weeks ago, which left the Aggies with a collection of once highly-recruited prospects, including five-star freshman Demond Demas. But the receiving corps have limited playing experience. All the wideouts on the A&M roster combined for just six catches in 2019.

“We’ll get multiple coverages,” Fisher said. “(Vandy defensive backs) will jam you, zone you. (They will) rotate safeties. Trap you. They’re very multiple. The good thing about that is our defense does a lot of the same things, so what you practice against daily will help. (Vanderbilt) will challenge our guys not only physically but mentally as well.”

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Despite his struggles as a head coach, Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason is still regarded as one of the top defensive minds in the conference.

Of course, the Aggies still have sophomore running back Isaiah Spiller, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last season. Tight end Jalen Wydermyer and versatile running back Ainias Smith are big-play threats.

Also, a case could be made that Kellen Mond is the best returning quarterback in the SEC. He’s accumulated more yards of total offense last season than any other returning quarterback in the league.

“With me, every time I step on the field, my mindset is I think I’m the best player,” Mond said. “If I didn’t do that, I don’t think I’d be doing the right thing and not giving my teammates confidence. I feel real confident going into the season. I’m looking forward to executing in  game one and moving forward from there.”

Discussion from...

Tenth-ranked Aggies ready to open 2020 season with Vanderbilt

2,962 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by bulverdeaggie93
ssolari94
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AggieTFA06
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SECTAMU#1
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Were not going to be tenth ranked much longer.
bulverdeaggie93
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nope, they weren't ready... Mond is still a terrible SEC QB.
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