It’s been a while, but Texas A&M’s defense is hoping to come out strong during Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.
During the season opener, the Aggies are looking to build off their defensive performance from last season. In 2019, the A&M defense posted 10 interceptions, 31 sacks, 866 tackles, 51 quarterback hurries and three blocked kicks.
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said the Vanderbilt defense and A&M’s defense share some similarities.
“You’re going to get multiple coverages, you’re going to get blitzes, they’re going to test you, they’re going to jam you, they’re going to zone you, they’re going to rotate safeties,” Fisher said. “The good thing about that is our defense does a lot of the same things as far as the multiplicity of things you do, so what you practice against daily is really good.”
The Commodores struggled offensively last season. They went 1-7 in conference and 3-9 overall. Offensively, they had 1,496 net rushing yards, 2,064 passing yards and scored 11 touchdowns last season.
Senior linebacker Buddy Johnson said this game is crucial for the defense.
“It is very important for us to hit the ground running and running fast,” said Johnson. “I think the guys are very excited to go out and play. The guys are fired up. I know I am.”
According to the depth chart, some returning A&M defenders to watch out for are junior defensive end Tyree Johnson, senior defensive tackle Jayden Peevy and senior middle linebacker Buddy Johnson.
Buddy Johnson also said there is some new talent to look out for this season defensively.
“I always talk to Coach Fisher, he always compliments the younger guys,” Johnson said. “Edgerrin Cooper, Antonio Doyle, [Tarian] Lee, these guys have been stepping up big time for us.”
The Aggies were ranked 29th nationally in total defense and tied for 37th in scoring defense last season. At the end of the 2019 season, Vanderbilt was ranked 123rd in total offense.
Vanderbilt’s new defensive coordinator is Ted Roof, who was formerly the defensive coordinator for Appalachian State last season. During this season, the Yosefs posted 983 total tackles, 36 sacks, 14 interceptions and five blocked kicks.
Senior quarterback Kellen Mond said this game will set the tone for the entire team.
“Vanderbilt is a good team,” Mond said. “I think they [have] a new [defensive] coordinator this year and also a good head coach. I’m looking forward to this week, but it is going to be super important for all three phases for us, offense, special teams and defense to start off this year right and get a head start on this season.”
No. 10 A&M will host Vanderbilt at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 26. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.