The Missouri Tigers (3-4) look to get their record back to an even split as they travel to Nashville on Saturday to face the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-6). Here are the three keys:
By Steve Wright
1 – Score more than 14 points
That is basically all it takes to beat Vanderbilt this season as the Commodores have zero ability to get out of their own way on offense. They rank last in the nation in scoring as they average just 13.2 points per game and have not scored more than 20 points in an SEC game yet. They have scored no more than six points in three of their SEC outings in 2021. First-year head coach Clark Lea is trying to change the culture at Vanderbilt, but he doesn’t have the pieces and parts yet to keep up if the Mizzou offense gets rolling.
2 – Win on third down defensively
As bad as the Vanderbilt offense is – and it is really, really bad – the Commodores will think they have a chance to move the ball against a Mizzou team that doesn’t do much of anything defensively. The Tigers are second to last in the nation against the run, they are last in the SEC in total defense, and the combination of mental breakdowns and missed assignments are hard to watch. Third down is a massive problem as opposing offenses are converting at a rate of almost 50 percent. The Tigers have to win on third down here.
3 – No more turnovers
One of the problems for Mizzou as of late has been the decision-making of quarterback Connor Bazelak. Bazelak is clearly a talent and he has the ability to sling the ball around the field, but some of his options as of late have been poor. Bazelak has thrown six interceptions in his last three games against Power Five opponents and coaches have been working with him over the bye on his pre-snap preparation and post-snap decision making. Look for Bazelak to make better decisions here and not give Vanderbilt extra possessions.