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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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5 things to watch for during A&M-Vanderbilt

Senior+Ryan+McCollum+will+replace+Colton+Prater%2C+Class+of+2020%2C+at+center+for+the+upcoming+season.
Photo by Meredith Seaver

Senior Ryan McCollum will replace Colton Prater, Class of 2020, at center for the upcoming season.

It’s been 38 weeks since a Texas A&M football game, the most recent one being the 2019 Texas Bowl win over Oklahoma State.
Following an unusually long offseason, the Aggies will host Vanderbilt at Kyle Field on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. to kick off the 10-game, conference-only football season.
1. Constantinou’s debut
Nik Constantinou will be a new name for A&M fans to learn. Constantinou, a redshirt freshman from Australia, is Braden Mann’s replacement as a punter.Mann broke numerous school and NCAA records and was awarded the 2018 Ray Guy Award. 
Constantinou booted a 57-yard punt in his debut last season against UTSA. After a year of perfecting his craft in Aggieland, Saturday will be his first true attempt at flipping the field. As a punter, he has the opportunity to gain momentum for the Aggies in pinning their opponent deep into their own territory.
2. Ainias Smith position change
Ainias Smith is another key player to watch for on Saturday as he sports a new number and position this season. Smith played in 12 games his freshman season as a receiver and had 22 receptions for 248 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He now joins Isaiah Spiller as a running back.
The duo should be a valuable weapon for the Aggie offense and a reliable means of driving down field against Vanderbilt’s mediocre run defense which allowed 208.8 yards per game on the ground last season.
3. Young wide receiver talent
In addition to losing Smith as a receiver, the Aggies are also without veteran wide receivers Camron Buckley and Jhamon Ausbon. Saturday’s game will be an indicator of the new wide receivers’ ability to make big plays.
Although wide receivers Kam Brown, Chase Lane, Demond Demas, Dylan Wright and Moose Muhammad III have little to no collegiate experience, they do have talent. As sophomores of the team, Caleb Chapman and Jalen Preston are expected to show up and show out on the field.
The Commodores lost one of their best cornerbacks when Joejuan Williams entered the NFL this season, so the unranked team’s pass defense should allow A&M’s inexperienced receivers to see the field and gain confidence in themselves and each other.
4. Experienced offensive line
One area in which A&M does have experience is in its offensive line, another key unit to observe this weekend. Senior offensive linemen Carson Green, Dan Moore and sophomore Kenyon Green were recognized as third team members of the 2020 Preseason coaches all-SEC football team.
Carson Green and Moore started in all 13 games their sophomore and junior seasons while Kenyon Green started in all 13 last season as a true freshman. The trio is joined by fifth-year player Ryan McCollum who is expected to fill the void of center, now that Colton Prater has graduated. Another offensive linemen that has proven to be valuable in the trenches is senior right guard Jared Hocker.
5. Home-field advantage
One final element to consider at Saturday’s game is whether a limited capacity of fans at Kyle Field is able to offer a home-field advantage. In what is usually a roaring atmosphere full of tens of thousands of students on their feet, will now consist of significantly less fans and a lack of presence from the Aggie band, Yell Leaders and cannon celebration.
A&M prides itself on the hostile environment that Kyle Field proves to be. As ESPN’s College GameDay commentator Kirk Herbstreit once said, A&M has “the best student section in college football.” With only a fraction of the 12th Man allowed to attend the game in order to comply with social distancing guidelines, it will be interesting to see what advantage, if any, Kyle Field will give the Aggies over Vanderbilt.

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