The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Behind Enemy Bylines: Missouri Tigers

The Vanderbilt Hustler caught up with Kyle Pinnell of the University of Missouri’s The Maneater to preview the Commodores’ upcoming matchup against Missouri.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt football huddles in a game during the 2021 season. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Still in search of their first SEC win since 2019, the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-6, 0-4) will host the last conference foe they beat, the Missouri Tigers (3-4, 0-3), this Saturday at 2 p.m. CDT at Vanderbilt Stadium. Last year, Vanderbilt was shutout by the Tigers, losing 41-0, and they open as 16-point underdogs this year.

The Hustler went Behind Enemy Bylines and interviewed Kyle Pinnell of the University of Missouri’s The Maneater to preview this Saturday’s matchup.

Vanderbilt Hustler: Coming off a 35-14 loss to Texas A&M, how do you think Missouri is feeling heading into this week’s contest against Vanderbilt?

Kyle Pinnell: I think they’re feeling better after the A&M game than they were after the Tennessee game. They played Kentucky pretty close—Kentucky is a pretty good team and they fought back into that one and only lost by seven. They also went to [Boston College] and played a hard-fought game in which they could have won. So, this week coming off a bye and a decently contested game against A&M, who had just beaten Alabama the game before, I think the team is feeling pretty opportunistic heading into the matchup against Vandy. 

Missouri’s defense is last in the SEC in points per game, allowing an average of 37.1 so far. On the other side of things, Vanderbilt’s offense is last in the SEC in points per game with an average of just 13.3 per contest. Taking that into account, how do you think these two sides will fare against each other?

I called it the SEC game of the week, for obvious reasons. Last time these teams played, it was a shutout, but Mizzou gave up over 30 points against North Texas. I think Mizzou can win this game, but I go back to 2019, the last time they played at Vanderbilt Stadium, when they were ranked and lost to Vandy by seven points. The team is coming off a bye week and there hasn’t really been a convincing game where they played well all four quarters. I think this week definitely has the opportunity to be a bounce back game for the defense. It’s all about whether they’re letting Vandy score touchdowns and get those big plays downfield. Tennessee running back Tiyon Evans said, “We’re going to have some fun against Mizzou’s defense” before they played each other, and defensive back Martez Manuel was saying how he was going to shut him up. Look what happened—Tennessee put up 62 points. This week, I’d like the defense to focus more on playing hard and less on talking and outside noise. 

Going off the discussion of the defense, how do they and the coaching staff feel after defensive line coach Jethro Franklin was relieved of his duties after the loss to Tennessee?

Like you said, Jethro was with the D-line. I think there definitely needed to be some change, especially after the Tennessee game. They’ve got Steve Wilks as the defensive coordinator, who they got from the [Cleveland] Browns. The defense has played a little better as of late—the Tennessee game was definitely the low of the season for them, but recently, it has been on the offense a bit turning the ball over and putting pressure on the defense to make a play. Without early turnovers and just by focusing on playing relatively good, clean football on offense, I think the defense will start to improve as well.

Missouri has had some inconsistent quarterback play with sophomore Connor Bazelak having 12 touchdowns but also seven interceptions so far. How do you think he is feeling going into Saturday’s game? 

I always look at Bazelak as a quarterback with a high floor and a low ceiling. The BC game is a good example—he threw a pick-six in overtime that lost them the game, but the only reason they were even in a position to win in the first place is because of him. He’s had some big moments and has targets in [Mookie] Cooper, [Tyler] Badie and [Keke] Chism. He has the ability to throw the ball down the field but his accuracy has come into question at times. When he’s moving, he opens up the running game—it’s just a question of [whether he can] make the throw and hang onto the ball. 

What is your score prediction for Saturday’s game?

The line is 16 and [Missouri] hasn’t covered the line yet this year, so I’m guessing they’ll win but not cover. I’d love to see the defense hold Vandy to below their average of around 13 points a game but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen, so I’ll go with 32-21 in favor of the Tigers. 

Leave a comment
About the Contributor
Andy Carr
Andy Carr, Former Assistant Sports Editor
Andy Carr ('22) was a student in the College of Arts and Science who studied economics with minors in business and computer science. In addition to writing, he enjoys running, playing golf and rooting for all D.C. sports. He can be reached at [email protected].
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments