Vanderbilt takes on Texas A&M in College Station on Saturday to begin it’s 10-game fully in-conference slate, and the game certainly won’t be easy for the Commodores. This will be the teams first face-off since 2015.
A&M’s offense is a relative unknown even though it is led by a fourth-year senior at QB in Kellen Mond. The Aggies ranked 72nd nationally in total offense last year, and sixth in conference. Additionally, the Aggies lost their leading returning receiver from last year in Jhamon Ausbon to an opt out for the NFL draft, and another receiver in Camron Buckley to a season-ending injury in camp. Couple that with the loss of two junior receivers last year in Kendrick Rogers and Quartney Davis and you have a very depleted receiving corps. The team does have Jalen Wydermyer returning, who had 32 catches for 447 yards and six TDs last year.
As such, it would seem that most of A&M’s strength is going to revolve around Sophomore running back Isaiah Spiller, who rushed for 946 yards on 174 carries with a 5.4 ypc average. Spiller, a four-star recruit across all recruiting services, also had no fumbles last year in demonstrating himself to be a primary back. Mond, in addition, has the ability to run as well and works as a nice dual threat option. That being said, given Vanderbilt’s lack of experience and substantial opt outs in the secondary, it would seem this is a good opportunity for him to get off to a good start in the passing game.
Texas A&M also has an extremely experienced o-line, returning four seniors and a sophomore All-SEC freshman in Kenyon Green. While the o-line last year suffered some challenges, experience can cure an abundance of issues, and it will be interesting to see how A&M chooses to use that experience.
The rise of Jimbo Fisher’s tenure at Florida State really began in year 3 with E.J. Manuel at QB and eventually blasted off in year 4 under a freshman Jameis Winston, while much of the offensive roster gained seasoning. While the current product is an unknown, it has plenty of potential, especially if some of the younger highly-ranked receivers such as Demond Demas or Muhsin Muhammad III turn into reliable options in the passing game. As our defensive capabilities are an equal unknown, it would seem A&M has a chance to take it’s offense for a test drive in it’s first home game. Vegas seems to agree as the Aggies have opened up as 29.5 point favorites. It will be crucial for Vanderbilt to stop the run in this game and put it on Mond and these receivers to beat them. We shall see how they rise to the occasion.