The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Behind Enemy Bylines: Texas A&M Aggies

The Vanderbilt Hustler caught up with Hannah Underwood, Sports Editor of The Battalion, to preview Vanderbilt’s upcoming game against Texas A&M.
Vanderbilt+faces+Purdue+on+September+7%2C+2019.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FEmily+Goncalves%29+
Vanderbilt faces Purdue on September 7, 2019. (Hustler Multimedia/Emily Goncalves)

The Vanderbilt Commodores kick off their 2020 football season on Saturday with a tough matchup, as they travel to College Station to face the tenth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies. Vanderbilt hopes to improve upon its 3-9 performance in 2019, but with a conference-only schedule, that task may seem daunting. This season, with player opt outs, rotating lineups and COVID-related uncertainty looming, it might be difficult to preview an opponent—especially one that has not yet played a game. In order to understand how the Aggies are adapting to the circumstances and preparing for the matchup, The Hustler went Behind Enemy Bylines to speak with Hannah Underwood, Sports Editor of Texas A&M’s student newspaper, The Battalion.

Jonah Crist: Who have been the major opt-outs from your team in the recent months and how will that affect the Aggies’ on-field performance?

Hannah Underwood: They’ve had five players opt out so far. The biggest have been [wide receiver] Jhamon Ausbon and linebacker Anthony Hines, who opted out on Sunday. Anthony Hines was one of the biggest playmakers on the team and I think they expected a lot from him this season. Somebody in his family passed away from COVID a couple weeks ago so he has chosen to sit out the season. Then Jhamon, he was their only veteran wide receiver because Camron Buckley got injured during fall camp, so he was the last starter they had at the position. He [Jhamon] chose to opt out to focus on the draft. I think the biggest thing with that is him and [quarterback] Kellen [Mond] had played together since high school so there was a lot of chemistry there. He was a huge weapon on offense for them, and with all of the young receivers they have now, we don’t know how that will play out this season.

How will the pandemic change the 12th Man environment at Kyle Field?

[Head football coach] Jimbo Fisher talked about that yesterday, and he said that they can’t rely on the crowd because Kyle Field is at 25 percent capacity, so it is up to the team to create that atmosphere and the energy they need to compete. It’s definitely not going to be as loud as it normally is or as intimidating as it is known for being.

With an experienced offensive line—that had three players named to the preseason All-SEC team—protecting 2nd team preseason All-SEC QB Kellen Mond, what are your expectations for the Texas A&M offensive attack this year?

Since Jhamon has opted out, the expectations may be lower than they were. The offensive line was kind of a group that struggled last season, so it will be interesting to see if they live up to that list and can protect Kellen a lot more than they did. Kellen seems to be extremely confident in himself and his team, so all we can do is trust him at this point.

As a team not known for your defense, how do you predict that Texas A&M will handle the nebulous four-headed monster that is the Vanderbilt QB rotation?

Throughout the offseason they [the defense] played all of their players as much as they can, putting them in different groups and positions, to get everybody prepared for anything that may happen. With the quarterbacks that A&M has–Kellen Mond, Zach Calzada, and Haynes King–I think the defense has matched up against them, and I think it should be fine.

What is your prediction for the final score this weekend?

42-10, A&M wins.

 

Content was edited for brevity and clarity.

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About the Contributor
Jonah Crist, Staff Writer
Jonah Crist ('24) is a Human and Organizational Development major in Peabody College. He is from Marysville, Ohio and enjoys spending his time walking around Vanderbilt's campus listening to old music and watching NBA games whenever possible. You can reach him at [email protected].
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