Vandy is one win away from passing its season win total from last season, and they have a great chance to do so on the road against Missouri.
The Tigers have struggled, mightily, in their first season under coach Barry Odom, and are currently on a five game losing streak. The Commodores are poised to get their second SEC road win of the season, and one step closer to bowl eligibility.
Six wins are required for teams to become bowl eligible, although, there is a way for five-win teams to sneak into the postseason. Vandy closes its season with back to back home games (Ole Miss, Tennessee) following this week, so this is a ‘must win’ opportunity for coach Derek Mason and his guys.
SPREAD: Missouri -3.5 OVER/UNDER: 54.5
#7 RB Ralph Webb, Jr – 177 car, 901 yds, 6 TDs
#23 RB Khari Blasingame, So – 70 caries, 331 yards, 7 TDs
#20 LB Zach Cunningham, R-Jr – 94 total tackles, 47 solo & leads the SEC in overall tackles. 13.5 tackles for loss
#3 QB Drew Lock, So. – 178/328, 2,517 yards, 19 TDs, 8 INTs
#6 WR J’Mon Moore, RJr. – 39 catches, 605 yards, 6 TDs
#91 DE Charles Harris, RJr. – 5.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, 43 total tackles
Run the ball all day long…
The Missouri defense is porous against the run, which is shocking considering Odom was the previous defensive coordinator. The Tigers allow 232 rushing yards per game to their opponents. This should be a heavy game for running backs Ralph Webb and Khari Blasingame, who should get over 30 combined carries. Webb is 183 yards away from the school’s all-time leading rushing mark. I’m not saying he should break it against Mizzou, but Webb should be able to rush for well over 100-yards on Saturday. South Carolina true freshman Rico Dowdle ran for 149 yards last week against this defense.
If the Commodores can hit the 230+ rushing yard mark against Mizzou, I would expect a VU win. This would also limit the opportunities for the Mizzou offense. Quarterback Drew Lock has been able to have success, at times, during his sophomore season. His 19 touchdown passes are tied for the most in the SEC (Chad Kelly, Austin Allen). But, Lock has only thrown six TDs in his five SEC losses. 10 of his TDs came against blowout wins against Eastern Michigan and Delaware State.
Derek Mason’s defense has been outstanding this season in SEC play. It’s only resulted in one win, thus far, but 23 points to Auburn last week is the most Vandy has given up in conference. Zach Cunningham has been a play-makaing machine, and has been a great leader for this unit.
Stuff the Vandy run game and score on big plays…
Mizzou’s season has been a disaster for first year coach Barry Odom. It could get a little better with a SEC win against Vanderbilt. I’ve mentioned how bad the Tigers are at stopping the run game. They’ll have to flip the script on what they’ve done all season to stop the Commodores. The way to beat Vandy is to stuff the box with as many defenders as possible and force Kyle Shurmur to complete passes on 1-on-1 coverages. Shurmur hasn’t shown the ability to do that consistently all season. Mizzou must play well on early downs to get Vanderbilt caught in 3rd and long situations. Make Shurmur beat you. Don’t let Ralph Webb and Khari Blasingame run wild.
Offensively, QB Drew Lock has been decent as a sophomore. He’s thrown five TDs in the last three games and has only been sacked nine times all year. J’Mon Moore is the Tigers’ leading receiver but hasn’t scored a TD since September. Moore, Dimetrios Mason and Emmanuel Hall are the three main receiving threats for Lock. Missouri has two capable running backs with freshman Damarea Crockett leading the way in rushing yards (683) and TDs (8). Junior Ish Witters is the the smaller scat back with good production (551 yards, 4 TDs).