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Opponent Preview: Alabama A&M

Well, we should at least have an easier go of it than the Hawai’i game, right?

An Alabama A&M player mid-play
Enjoy this week while you can, it only gets tougher from here.
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The Opponent: Alabama A&M Bulldogs (Summer Preview | Roster)

When: September 2, 2023, 6:00 PM CT on ESPN+

Where: FirstBank Stadium

Last year: 4-7 (4-4 SWAC)

The last time we saw these guys: 42-0 during the last season without me as a fan (2017)

Series record: 1-0, Vanderbilt

Head Coach: Connell Maynor

Coach Maynor is a really interesting guy. He has acted as a stunt double in Any Given Sunday and Remember the Titans, won an Arena Football League Most Valuable Player Award (he played over a decade in the AFL!), and as recently as Spring 2021 led his team to a SWAC Championship! However, while Coach Maynor does seem like he’s a great coach with a long track record of winning and developing talent at the D-II and FCS levels, he is only 29-20 at Alabama A&M and has more-or-less gotten walloped in the couple of FBS games he has played. That said, I really enjoyed reading up on him, and I recommend you do, too, as the rest of this post will probably fly right by ya.

Offense: Ground Control (or actually, Maybe Not?)

One of Alabama A&M’s three Preseason All-SWAC picks is their running back, Donovan Eaglin, who transferred in from Michigan State last year and averaged 80 yards/game. The other offensive pick is Jonathan Williams, a member of the offensive line. Last year, about 45% of the team’s plays were run plays, which I am just now learning would below average at the FBS level. I actually don’t know what any of this means, but hopefully even with our defense as lacking as it is (despite Lea supposedly being a defensive mastermind at some point pre-Leanaissance) this won’t be a serious challenge.

Defense: MIA -> Missing Internet Access

This team allowed 228 points over 8 games of SWAC play last year, 294 points over 10 games of FCS play, and 59 points against their lone FBS opponent, UAB, who was by no means a world-beater last year. Even with a transfer here and another year of experience there, I don’t see this defense locking Swann and our receiving corps down. I scoured the internet for Alabama A&M’s breakdown of yards allowed last year, but couldn’t find it anywhere. The fact they don’t even seem to have those stats anywhere should tell you all you need to know.

Special Teams: More Like Especially Undisciplined

Their kicking is fine, but they don’t seem to have incredible range. They aren’t especially strong at returns. Also, sort of unrelated, but they averaged 84 penalty yards a game last year, which was more than every single FBS team. So yeah, we have that going for us.


Outlook: Probably a Blowout (Oh gosh I sure hope so)

I am writing this from my hotel while on vacation (now for the second night in a row), so I apologize for not spending too much time on our FCS opponent. They just seem to be a young team in the middle of a rebuild following a successful run a few years ago. They don’t seem to have any noticeable strengths on either side of the ball, but I guess they aren’t extremely deficient anywhere either relative to their classification. They’ll probably be fine in FCS play, maybe finish near the top of the SWAC, I just don’t think they have it in them to give us too much to worry about, though.