Three Matchups to Watch: Missouri Tigers

Drew Lock as Vanderbilt picked up its first SEC win under Coach Mason 10-3 at Vanderbilt Stadium October 24, 2015. Photo by Ziyi Liu.

Vanderbilt and Missouri’s seasons have experienced opposite momentum swings during the season.

The Commodores began the season 3-0 and defeated then ranked Kansas State before losing six of their next seven games. They are still yet to win an SEC game. On the flip side, the Tigers lost six of their first seven games and were on their way to becoming the joke of the SEC. However, they are currently riding high on a four-game win streak including blowouts of both Florida and Tennessee. Vanderbilt’s quest to win their last two games and remain bowl eligible will not be easy at all as the Tigers will come into this game with all the momentum.

Here are three match-ups to look out for this Saturday.

Vanderbilt Pass Defense vs. QB Drew Lock

While the Commodores have struggled defensively in all of their losses, much of the damage they have given up is on the ground. Their pass defense has been solid all year. In fact, it ranks 28th nationally in yards per game allowed (191.7). The passing defense will face arguably its toughest test of the season when quarterback sensation Drew Lock comes to town.

Even though Missouri was struggling early, Drew Lock has been outstanding all season. The junior has thrown for 3,012 yards and 35 touchdowns already. He also is completing just under 60 percent of his passes, and there has only been one game where he has not thrown for at least 215 yards. His passing yards are by far the best in the SEC as well as the tenth highest in the nation.

The Commodores will most definitely have their hands full with Lock on Saturday.

RB Ralph Webb vs. Missouri Run Defense

Webb is arguably the best Commodore running back ever; he owns the school record for career rushing yards and total touchdowns. On Saturday, he will play his last game at Vanderbilt Stadium. Webb has 3,955 yards over his four seasons along with 29 total touchdowns.

As good as Webb’s career has been, he has certainly seen a dip in his numbers this season. He only has 613 total rushing yards this season. Some of this is due to him not getting as many carries as he has gotten in earlier seasons. Last week, he only had nine carries even though he averaged 7.8 yards per carry. Look for Webb to go out with a bang on Senior Day.

Missouri’s defense is definitely not the strongest point of their team. Their rushing defense ranks 80th out of the 129 teams, and they give up and average of 177.8 yards per game. However, the unit has been playing much better as of late. In their wins against Florida and Tennessee, they gave up 93 and 146 yards respectively.

LB Oren Burks vs. RB Ish Witter

Burks is another big-name senior playing in his final home game. He has 64 tackles this season and is eighth in the SEC in this category. He had one of his best games of the season against Kentucky when he recorded 12 total tackles and a sack. Burks will need to step up and be a leader for the rest of the season and do what he can to improve the Vanderbilt run defense that is one of the worst in the nation.

Witter is having his best season of his career. He has recored 720 rushing yards this season and is averaging over six yards per carry. He had his best game of the season against Tennessee when he ran for 216 yards on 24 attempts and scored a touchdown.

If Missouri can establish a run game, it might be another long day for Vanderbilt.

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