These are all ways you can eat different types of birds, so I assume crow would be good when prepared any of these ways. And I deserve a heaping helping after Mizzou did the impossible and destroyed the Gators down in the Swamp last weekend. Last week, I said “I want to be wrong about this and will gladly eat crow if the Tigers can put together a perfect game and upset Florida.” I also provided several points that I thought were right at the time that Odom, Lock, and company shoved down my throat. I said:
- “Outmatched by a superior coaching staff and better athletes, pressure will once again be too much for Lock to overcome.”
Last Saturday, this was not the case. Head Coach Barry Odom and Offensive Coordinator Derek Dooley put together a master class in defeating the blitz but utilizing Lock’s improved accuracy and decision making to check down with quick five yard passes, neutralizing any pressure the Gators put on the Tigers.
- “Until the Tigers show us something different, we should not expect this game against the Gators to turn out any differently than others have.”
While it was not wrong of us to expect the Tigers couldn't put together a fantastic game on all three phases of the ball, the Tigers absolutely proved us all wrong.
- “We can expect WRs to get behind the Mizzou secondary and create big plays.”
Two weeks in a row the Mizzou defense has come to play against top 15 teams, allowing under 20 points in each. Now, neither of these teams are offensive powerhouses, but when we start to look at the last four games, the defense is allowing 26 points per game. This includes games against juggernaut Alabama, an offensively talented Memphis, and College football Playoff top 15 teams in Kentucky and Florida. Ryan Walters and Odom have found a way to stabilize the defense and allow Mizzou’s offense to win games. This was always the blueprint for success in Columbia and it appears Mizzou may have found it.
This week, Mizzou has the chance to become bowl eligible in back-to-back years for the first time since the 2013-2014 seasons, in a matchup at home against perennial SEC doormat, the Vanderbilt University Commodores. Vandy sits at an overall record of 4-5, with losses against No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 5 Georgia, No. 11 Kentucky, No. 15 Florida, and South Carolina. Their schedule is almost as hard as the Tigers this year, facing multiple teams that are competing for the College Football Playoff. Their wins are less impressive however, knocking off Middle Tennessee State, Nevada, Tennessee State, and Arkansas.
Offensively, the Commodores are a more inept, less explosive version of the Tigers. QB Kyle Shurmur, son of failed NFL coach Pat Shurmur, leads an offense that is ranked 82nd in football, one ahead of the Florida Gators. The ‘Dores average 230 yards in the air per game. TE Jared Pinkney is their version of Albert O with five TDs thus far, while WR Kalija Lipscomb leads the team in TDs (six) and receiving yards (632). The only concern the Tigers have through the air is which version of the secondary shows up. Have all of the problems that showed against Purdue and Georgia been fixed? If so, it will be up to the Vandy running game to carry the load.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn leads the Vandy backfield and is their most dangerous weapon offensively. So far he has 667 yards on the ground and 131 yards receiving, combining for nine total TDs. Jamauri Wakefield and Khari Blasingame contribute as well, with the later posing as a receiving threat.
As mentioned earlier, the Mizzou defense appears to have made a complete turnaround and this game will play into the strength of the Mizzou defense. The Tigers number 4 run defense will force Shurmur and company to beat them through the air, and if Acy and company come ready to play on Saturday, it could make this another good game for the D. When Vandy does run, the DL needs to make sure Vandy does not get to the second level and hold them to third and longs, just like Kentucky and Florida faced. LBs Cale Garret, who leads the team in total tackles by almost 30, and Terez Hall, will need to cover the middle and prevent the slippery RBs from making big plays.
Offensively, these are the games that Lock has shined in the past. Playing inferior competition, he has feasted on opposing defenses and ran up his career total yards and TDs. It helps that his security blanket, Emanuel Hall, is back and ready to play and we can only expect him to get better as he and Lock get back into rhythm on the deep balls. While Albert O may be held out with a shoulder injury and Kendell Blanton and Tyler Badie are both banged up and may not see much, if any, playing time this week, the dynamic Mizzou backfield of Rountree III and Crockett should be plenty to keep the Vandy defense true.
If history is any indicator for the Tigers, we can expect Mizzou to easily handle the Commodores this Saturday. While this would appear to be a reactionary take following the biggest victory for the Tigers since 2014, Odom and Lock’s history has shown us that when the calendar hits November and Mizzou gets into the soft part of SEC play (Vandy, Tennessee and Arkansas), they take care of business. Last year, it was November that sealed a winning season and bowl eligibility and we should expect the same to be true this year.