Published October 3, 2012 - 4:25pm
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James Franklin – one name that encompasses two teams.
Vanderbilt’s leader and head coach James Franklin will try and hoist his team from the depths of the SEC East, sitting 1-3 overall and 0-2 in conference. We have been reminded this season just how hard it is to win at Vanderbilt, from having trouble selling out their opener against South Carolina to getting dominated against one of the premier teams in the conference in Georgia two weeks ago.
Vanderbilt’s offense has been…well, very Vanderbilt-like through the first five weeks of this season. They are 13th in scoring offense (21.8 ppg), 11th in total offense (384 ypg), 10th in rushing offense (169.8 ypg) and eighth in passing offense (214.2 ypg). The Commodores do have a very underrated pass defense, but the run defense has some improvement to make, namely at linebacker.
The other James Franklin will try and keep the Mizzou train rolling this week on offense, after having a better game overall against UCF. The Tigers’ offense is not racking up the numbers like it was a year ago, namely because Franklin has had a sore shoulder and slow start. Missouri hasn’t looked ready to compete in the SEC, with respect to speed and depth. Obviously, the glaring hole has been on the offensive line, as three starters were injured early in the year.
Who has the edge?
Vanderbilt Wins If: Zac Stacy gets going in the running game. He was the leading returning SEC rusher with 1,193 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he was a big reason Vanderbilt had the success they had a year ago. But he hasn’t gotten going yet against better defenses. Sure, he dominated against Presbyterian, but that doesn’t really count. Stacy’s rushed for 341 yards on 46 carries. 174 of those yards came against Presbyterian. Vanderbilt is going to have to play a ball-controlled offense and eat up time of possession, and Stacy is the man the plan is built around. Feed the beast, Franklin.
Missouri Wins If: They beat the Commodores in the running game. Minus Presbyterian, Vanderbilt has been out-rushed 698-269 against South Carolina, Northwestern and Georgia in their three losses. Missouri will spread the Dores’ defense out and run it with Franklin and Kendial Lawrence. If Missouri wins the running game, they beat the Commodores at home in Columbia. It won’t hurt too much if Marcus Murphy gets involved on offense more, as he’s been spectacular returning punts.
Player(s) To Watch: For Vanderbilt, keep an eye on running back Zac Stacy. He’s really the lifeblood of the offense. When Stacy gets going on the ground, the Commodores are very tough to beat.
For Missouri, check out linebacker Will Ebner. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played as a linebacker. He’s physical and smart, and he will be big in stopping Stacy and the running game. Ebner is fourth in the SEC in tackles-for-loss with 7.0.