College Station, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - After suffering a heartbreaking
defeat a week ago, the 14th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies will attempt to rebound
when they return home to square off against the Vanderbilt Commodores in SEC
action on Saturday afternoon.
Vanderbilt has had an inconsistent start to the season at 4-3, but it was able
to capture an outstanding 31-27 home triumph over Georgia last Saturday,
effectively ousting the Bulldogs from the latest AP poll.
"We played with tremendous passion and emotion, probably similar to what we've
played in the two previous years," Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin said.
"We had a big chip on our shoulder ... (I) don't think we win that game
without playing with that type of passion and emotion."
"We're really excited about going to play Texas A&M in College Station," he
continued. "I do think it has a reputation of being one of the best places in
all of college football. Crowd noise will be significant this week so we will
have the speakers blaring at practice."
While Vanderbilt was on the positive side of an upset-laden weekend, Texas A&M
experienced the opposite fate, falling at home to No. 24 Auburn on a last-
second field goal, 41-38. The setback dropped the Aggies to 5-2 overall and
2-2 in the SEC.
"We got a lot of football left. There's no telling what can happen," Texas A&M
head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We got to keep playing and we can't dwell on
this (loss to Auburn), we got to move on, but we also got to look honestly at
where we are and how we're going to approach things from here on out."
This bout marks the first meeting between these two schools on the football
Vanderbilt is in the midst of its best offensive season in school history,
posting averages of 33.3 ppg and 412.4 ypg, but those numbers could take a hit
this weekend without its starting quarterback.
Austyn Carta-Samuels (.655 completion percentage, 1,672 yards, 15 total TDs,
seven INTs) suffered a leg injury last week and is listed as doubtful for this
contest. Patton Robinette saw his first extended action of the year in place
of Carta-Samuels and completed 9-of-15 passes for 107 yards with an
interception, and his head coach hopes that a week of preparation with the
starters will have him more in tune this time around.
"We put such an emphasis on preparation and I think you should always be
prepared for the job that you have, whether it's off the field or on the
field," Franklin said. "I think the fact that (Robinette) played last week and
the experience, he's probably preparing a little different this week depending
on how this situation plays out."
The Commodores have one of the best receivers in the nation on their side in
Jordan Matthews (798 yards, five TDs), who is fresh off a career-best 11
receptions last week to give him an SEC-high 58 for the season. Matthews is
second in SEC history in catches with 208, and he is only 13 yards behind
Georgia's Terrence Edwards for the conference record in receiving yards
Jerron Seymour leads the Vandy backfield charge with 426 rushing yards and
eight touchdowns, while Wesley Tate (281 yards, four TDs) also sees plenty of
Defensively, Vanderbilt has been a disappointment this season, ranking eighth
in the SEC in points allowed (26.6 ppg), although it sits fifth in yards
allowed (365.9 ypg).
Kenny Ladler has logged a team-high 58 tackles to go with two forced fumbles,
while Caleb Azubike has done a nice job of penetrating the line of scrimmage
with 7.5 TFL.
Texas A&M boasts one of the country's most explosive offensive attacks,
ranking third in the nation in total offense (588.7 ypg) and fourth in scoring
offense (46.9 ppg).
Johnny Manziel is having another Heisman-caliber campaign, as he presently
ranks second in the FBS in completion percentage (.733) while throwing for
2,289 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has also run for 486
yards and six additional scores. Manziel posted more than 500 yards of total
offense for the fifth time in his career in last week's loss, but he injured
his shoulder late in the game and appeared bothered by it down the stretch. He
is listed as questionable for this tilt, and while it would be a surprise if
he didn't suit up, Matt Joeckel or Kenny Hill would step up in his absence.
Manziel has displayed outstanding chemistry with wide receiver Mike Evans, who
ranks second in the FBS in both receiving yards (1,024) and yards per catch
(23.8), while scoring nine touchdowns. His historic 287-yard performance
against Auburn was a school record and the third most in SEC single-game
"As I said after the first game of the year, (Evans) is one of the better
players in the country," Sumlin said of Evans, who also caught four touchdowns
last week. "And I think people are starting to realize that because he's a big
guy that has home run ability but will compete for the ball in any kind of
Ben Malena, Tra Carson and Trey Williams are strong complements to Manziel in
the rushing attack. Malena has 387 yards and nine touchdowns (one receiving),
while Carson (254 yards, four TDs) and Williams (217 yards, three TDs) have
also made the most of their limited touches.
Defensively, the Aggies have not been up to snuff this season, nearly allowing
teams to keep pace with their record-setting offense by allowing 33.9 ppg and
494.4 ypg. Both numbers rank dead last in the SEC.
Deshazor Everett and Tommy Sanders have each picked off a pair of passes,
while Howard Matthews has 47 tackles to lead the team. The unit has virtually
no pass rush to speak of, recording just seven sacks in seven games.
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