SEC football is back and with it is Jimbo Fisher’s continuing quest to bring Texas A&M to the top of the conference. This weird and strange 2020 season might be his best chance yet, and it begins with a home date vs the Vanderbilt Commodores, a team in desperate search of replacements for several key players from last year.
The Aggies finished 2019 at 8-5, after a tough 7-5 regular season that featured 5 losses to top-10 opposition, and a nice bowl win over Oklahoma State. They return QB Kellen Mond but lose a lot of production, including key wideout Jhamon Ausbon, to graduation as well as opt-outs. We should get the first look at some of A&M’s new stars on offense vs Vandy, as guys like Moose Muhammad III, highly touted true frosh Demond Demas, and Kam Brown will have featured roles in the offense for the first time. Mond will also likely lean on TE Jalen Wydermyer a lot this year, and especially against a Vanderbilt defense whose strength lies in its front seven.
Vanderbilt on the other hand, finished 3-9, and proceeded to lose almost every major contributor on offense. Riley Neal, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Kalija Lipscomb, and Jared Pinkney are all departed from a season ago, and they don’t leave any clear replacements behind them. Over the past few days reports have come out that Derek Fisher and his staff have chosen 3-star true freshman Ken Seals to start the opener.
Seals isn’t super athletic, so he will have to be ready to get the ball out quickly at the college level if Vanderbilt is going to put up points on the Aggie defense, which like a lot of teams in the SEC, features a very good D-Line that knows how to get after the QB. When Seals does throw the ball, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a lot of the times it ends up going to Cam Johnson. The third year wideout started all 12 games last year, totaling 316 receiving yards and leading the team with 3 touchdowns. While those aren’t gaudy numbers someone is going to have to catch the ball, and Johnson seems like the best candidate.
While Vanderbilt is going to struggle to score on offense, the competitiveness of this game is likely to be decided by the Commodore defense and special teams. With standout seniors Dayo Odeyingbo and Dimitri Moore leading the way, as well as sack-leader Andre Mintze, there is reason to believe Vandy can hold it’s own on this side of the ball. The Texas A&M offensive line is experienced, starting 4 seniors, but they aren’t world beaters, and Mintze and Co. should be able to get after Mond a bit on Saturday.
Lucky for Vanderbilt, the weak spot of their defense, the secondary, not only should improve, but gets the aforementioned super young A&M wideout group in week 1. It’s weakness on weakness and strength on strength when A&M has the ball, which will make for some intriguing viewing.
While I don’t see much hope for the Commodore offense lighting up the scoreboard, unless Seals is Johnny Football 2.0, it wouldn’t be the most shocking result if you looked up in the 3rd quarter and Derek Mason’s team had drug A&M into a bit of a defensive battle. All great defenses can still be eventually toppled however, if the offense can’t stay on the field. Expect Texas A&M to pull away late in this one.
How To Watch
Time: 7:30 EST
TV: SEC Network
Watch Online: WatchESPN