Behind Enemy Bylines: Missouri Tigers

The Vanderbilt Hustler caught up with Emily Leiker, the deputy sports editor of The Maneater, to preview Vanderbilt’s upcoming game against Missouri.


Claire Barnett

The Commodores fell Missouri 45-17 on Saturday, November 18, 2017. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Max Schneider, Sports Editor

The Vanderbilt Commodores are coming off their worst loss of the Derek Mason era. A 34-10 defeat at the hands of UNLV dropped the Commodores to a 1-5 record, with all five losses coming with a double digit spread. They’ll look to get back into the win column this Saturday with an afternoon matchup at home against the 5-1 Missouri Tigers.

To get an inside look at Missouri, the Vanderbilt Hustler caught up with Emily Leiker, the sports editor of Missouri’s student newspaper, The Maneater, to talk about the Tigers and get some insight into this weekend’s upcoming matchup.

Max Schneider: How is head coach Barry Odom preparing for this game?

Emily Leiker: Barry Odom – like any college coach – is a big “take it one week at a time” guy. The biggest thing for Missouri right now is that it has been at home for five straight games. It hasn’t traveled since its Week 1 loss to Wyoming, its only loss of the season. “We’ll go through our travel tips and reminders,” Odom said to media on Tuesday. He also talked about taking an elementary approach to both the trip and the game.

MS: This offense seems significantly improved this year despite having to replace Drew Lock. What makes Kelly Bryant so hard to stop?

EL: Kelly Bryant is a bit more versatile than Drew Lock was with the Tigers. Lock was very much a passing quarterback; this season, Bryant has been the Tigers’ second leading rusher in multiple games. He has the ability to extend plays and pick up first downs when he could have lost five plus yards. He didn’t rush as much last week because of the knee sprain he suffered against Troy, but he hasn’t been limited in any practices and I think that was more of a precautionary measure. I’m expecting him to rush more again this week.

MS: Who are the guys Vanderbilt is going to need to keep in check most if they want to compete in this game?

EL: Missouri has a number of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Johnathon Johnson had his strongest game of the season against Ole Miss, and could potentially build off that momentum. Albert Okwuegbunam is a consistent target of Bryant’s, as well as Johnathan Nance and then there’s Larry Rountree in the backfield. The Tiger defense is nationally ranked in multiple categories, and even despite losing star senior linebacker Cale Garrett to a pectoral tendon injury, Vanderbilt’s offense and its fans should be wary. Sophomore linebacker Nick Bolton and Jordan Elliot would be two specifically to watch.

MS: Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for 182 yards against Mizzou last year, how does Ryan Walters gameplan for Vaughn?

EL: Walters spoke highly at media on Tuesday of the consistency his D-line has provided this season. The Tigers’ rush defense is No. 25 in the nation right now, and they’ve allowed an average of just 3.15 yards per rushing play this season and just 6 rushing touchdowns.

MS: Score prediction?

EL: 35-10 Missouri.