The Vanderbilt Commodores belong to one of the best educational institutions in the United States. A Vanderbilt education is a high-quality education, a significant credential and a gateway toward opportunities and possibilities in life.
By Matt Zemek
Why say this in relationship to a football game against Missouri? Because Vanderbilt has received the highest-quality education in the Southeastern Conference over the past month. This flows into the keys to VU’s contest against the Tigers.
1 – Use this Vanderbilt education wisely
Vanderbilt has attended a graduate school course in college football over the past month. The Commodores have taken classes from Nick Saban, attended a lecture from Lane Kiffin, and participated in a seminar hosted by Kirby Smart. Alabama, Ole Miss, and Georgia have given Vanderbilt a boatload of learning experiences. Vanderbilt outplayed Ole Miss for two and a half quarters, but that was as close as VU came to pulling off a win in any of these games … and that was entirely as expected. Vanderbilt did not underachieve over the past three weeks. That it managed to make the Ole Miss game a fight was, in itself, a minor achievement.
What matters now is putting that education to work. Alabama and Georgia punished VU physically. Ole Miss made tactical adjustments to the Dores and showed VU about the need to play 60 complete minutes, not just 35 or 40. All three teams had more speed than Vanderbilt could handle.
Missouri is a much more evenly-matched opponent. Vanderbilt needs to find ways to play tougher, faster and smarter. Against Bama, Georgia and Ole Miss, that would never add up to a win. Against Missouri, it could if the Dores put all the pieces together. Put that education to good use from the past month. Learning experiences can translate into a win here, and against the other beatable teams in the lower half of the SEC East.
2 – Make Missouri throw to win
Missouri’s quarterbacks have had trouble throwing the deep ball and making big plays in the passing game. Vanderbilt needs to stuff the run and dare MU to throw over the top. Standing up to Missouri in the trenches will give Vanderbilt a realistic shot to win this game. Trust the corners to hold up in man coverage and demand more from them against Mizzou.
3 – Red zone
Missouri’s failures in the red zone against Georgia prevented the Tigers from pulling the upset in that game. Vanderbilt has to defend Mizzou in the red zone while also maximizing its own red-zone trips. VU could win if the red zone is clearly in the Dores’ favor.