SEC Kickoff: Everything you need to know about Vanderbilt at Missouri
Here’s everything you need to know about Vanderbilt at Missouri.
Where: Columbia, Mo.
Game Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Current Line: Missouri (-23.5)
Game Buzz: This isn’t a game for those who enjoy touchdowns. Vanderbilt’s offense has languished all season, while Missouri’s has been awful for three games now. The Tigers, though, have won two of three thanks to a furious fourth-quarter comeback at South Carolina and six defensive takeaways and four return touchdowns against Florida. Missouri, the defending SEC East champions, can improve to 6-1, 3-1 in the SEC with a win, and stay on Georgia’s hip for this year’s division race. For the Commodores, a winless SEC season seems more and more likely.
SATURDAY DOWN SOUTH PREVIEWS
- SEC Week 9 predictions
- Saturday Down South SEC power rankings
- Maty Mauk’s meltdown
- Vanderbilt releases depth chart for Mizzou game
- Shane Ray breaks the mold
- Johnny McCrary will start at QB vs. Mizzou
- Sticking to the script: Marcus Murphy excelling in return game
Players To Watch:
- QB Johnny McCrary
- RB Ralph Webb
- WR C.J. Duncan
- TE Steven Scheu
- LB Nigel Bowden
- KR/CB Darrius Sims
Keys For Vanderbilt:
- Feed Ralph Webb. With 560 yards through seven games, Webb is on pace to break the school’s freshman rushing record. However, the tailback has seen a varying amount of carries, lacking touches late as the Commodores find themselves facing large deficits. Webb has rushed for 400 yards on 77 carries in the first half of games, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. But he has just 160 yards on 45 carries (3.6 average) in the second half this season.
- Increase C.J. Duncan’s role in offense. C.J. Duncan saw a season-best 119 yards on seven catches in Vanderbilt’s Week 7 win over Charleston Southern. The redshirt freshman scored his second touchdown of the season on a 65-yard pass from Johnny McCrary in the second quarter. Duncan leads Vanderbilt with 322 yards and 20 receptions for the season, seeing a growing role in the Commodores offense over the past few weeks.
- Have Nigel Bowden contain Maty Mauk. Bowden leads the Commodores with 54 tackles and is averaging 7.7 per game. The redshirt freshman has seen a progression through the season and recorded a career-best 10 tackles against Charleston Southern in Week 7. Facing a dual-threat quarterback, Bowden will need to contain Mauk throughout Saturday’s game in order to prevent big plays from developing.
Glaring weakness to watch: Lack of depth, particularly at quarterback. Vanderbilt will start Johnny McCrary on Saturday, becoming the first team in the SEC to start four different quarterbacks. The Commodores have already seen appearances by all four players, making them the only SEC team to do so this season.
Most interesting part of the game: Will Johnny McCrary provide an improved option at quarterback with two weeks of first team reps in practice?
Team buzz: Vanderbilt squeaked out a victory against FCS Charleston Southern in Week 7. Coming off a bye week, the Commodores have had plenty of time to prepare for Saturday’s game. However, we’ve seen little from Vanderbilt to believe they can capture a win against an SEC game this season, even against a Missouri team that has struggled to find its consistency.
Players To Watch:
- QB Maty Mauk
- WR Bud Sasser
- KR/RB Marcus Murphy
- DE Shane Ray
- DE Markus Golden
- S Braylon Webb
Keys For Missouri:
- Get the passing game on track. It took a near miracle for Maty Mauk to complete 6 of 18 passes for 20 yards and an interception — and still win by 29 points. Missouri may have just one SEC loss, but it’s not going anywhere but a mediocre bowl game unless that turns around fast. Lucky for Mizzou, the schedule softens now. Vanderbilt’s defense is OK, but it’s a good spot for the Tigers to get back some confidence with some easy completions.
- Sell out to stop the run. Vandy’s ground game has produced a modicum of success, whereas the passing game without Patton Robinette has been non-existent. Robinette (concussion) got medical clearance Friday, but Johnny McCrary should become the fourth different Vandy starter at quarterback this season. Stop the run and Missouri’s chances to lose this game go from slim to nearly none.
- Stay healthy. We’ve seen already this year that Missouri lacks depth at several positions. A significant injury or two could hinder the team’s already-tenuous chances in the SEC East and turn the rest of the season into a struggle.
Glaring weakness to watch: The receivers. Since Jimmie Hunt and Darius White missed time due to injuries, this group has been anemic at best. Thin behind the seniors, unable to get open and unable to make plays when the ball comes to them, this group is as much or more responsible for the passing woes as Mauk.
Most interesting part of the game: Can Mauk look like anything other than an atrocious quarterback again? And if not, will Gary Pinkel even think about trying out Eddie Printz?
Team buzz: This hasn’t been the same team since a 3-0 start. The team frankly is lucky to potentially become bowl eligible before Halloween. Last year’s only regular-season loss came in overtime on a missed field goal, while this team easily could lose four or more games before December. But not this Saturday. Playing Vanderbilt is the equivalent of a mid-season non-conference game for a team that didn’t play its first SEC opponent until Sept. 27.