NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 2020 Vanderbilt football season begins in earnest Saturday when the Commodores travel to Texas A&M.
Vandy and Texas A&M have only played twice before, just once at Texas A&M and not since 2015.
The Aggies are coming off an 8-5 season and win over Oklahoma State in the Texas Bowl. Head coach Jimbo Fisher’s team is ranked 10th in The Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Here is more on how to tune in to Saturday’s contest as well as five key matchups to watch at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas:
When: 6:30 p.m. CT Saturday
Location: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
Television: SEC Network Alternate
Broadcast Crew: Mark Morgan (play-by-play), Andre Ware (analyst), Taylor Davis (sideline)
Streaming: Available via the WatchESPN app
Radio: Vanderbilt radio network WQZQ 830 AM and 93.3 FM Nashville and on the TuneIn app; SiriusXM 384 and 191, streaming channel 974 and 962
Weather: 84 degrees at kickoff, 10 percent chance of rain
1. A NEW QB FOR ALL TO SEE
Vanderbilt will have a new quarterback at the helm Saturday.
Head coach Derek Mason and first-year offensive coordinator Todd Fitch will look to one of four new signal-callers to take the first snap of the 2020 season – and Mason said this week he has already narrowed that list down to two finalists.
Vandy’s quartet of potential starting quarterbacks include junior college transfers Danny Clark and Jeremy Moussa and true freshmen Ken Seals and Mike Wright. Moussa and Seals enrolled at Vanderbilt in January while Clark and Wright became Commodores over the summer.
2. DEFENSIVE DEBUT
While many of the names and faces on Vanderbilt’s defense will be familiar, the Commodores will have a different style about them for first-year coordinator Ted Roof.
Roof, with more than 30 years of coaching experience, takes over a defense with a strong corps of returning starters and a host of young talent ready to make an impact. Defensive linemen Dayo Odeyingbo, Cameron Tidd and Daevion Davis, linebackers Dimitri Moore and Andre Mintze and defensive backs Allan George, DC Williams, Dashaun Jerkins, Frank Coppet, Max Worship and Randall Haynie are just a few of the playmakers from 2019 still in the 2020 lineup.
The Vandy defense will be facing a Texas A&M offense that scored 29.5 points per game last season.
3. IN THE TRENCHES
First-year offensive line coach Pete Rossomando has had some shuffling to do in order to find a solid rotation up front.
Transfers, opt-outs and injuries have equated to some new options on the left side of the ball where former defensive lineman Drew Birchmeier and Central Connecticut transfer Connor Mignone will line up at left guard and where youngsters Bradley Ashmore and Ben Cox will take snaps at left tackle.
Vanderbilt’s right side of the offensive line and center Grant Miller presents more experience for the Commodores as they’ll look to stall a defense that registered 29 sacksand 90 tackles for a loss and allowed only 130.7 yards per game on the ground in 2019.
4. FITCH ATTACK
In 2019, Louisiana Tech was among the top 37 teams in college football in scoring (32.5 points per game), passing (268.5 yards per game) and total offense (436.8 yards per game). Those numbers were put up by an offense under the direction of Fitch.
The Commodores will start to try to emulate that sort of production Saturday in a scheme designed to get the ball into the hands of playmakers regardless of age, experience or position on the depth chart.
With Vandy’s No. 1 running back, quarterback, wide receiver and tight end having departed from the 2019 roster, there will be plenty of options to chose from on who gets to touch the football. The question for Fitch and staff will be who is ready to step up?
5. NEW DECADE, NEW TREND?
Season openers were not kind to the Commodores in the previous decade.
Vanderbilt went 3-7 from 2010-19 in contests that opened their respective seasons. It should be noted Vandy is 2-1 in openers in its last three chances.
The 2020 season opener, of course, will be a tad different after the SEC postponed the start of the season until this Saturday and created a 10-game, league-only slate due to the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But no matter the circumstances, Vanderbilt still has the same opportunity: To go out and start a season with a victory.
Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com. Follow him @MrChadBishop.