The Missouri Tigers will host the Vanderbilt Commodores this weekend in a Saturday SEC East showdown. Neither team has gotten off to a desirable start in 2022, as both enter the week riding three-game losing streaks.
The Tigers currently sit at 2-4 on the year, while the Commodores have gone 3-4 so far this season. Both teams will look to pick up their first SEC win of the season after starting 0-3 in conference play.
Plenty of Tough Breaks For the Tigers
Despite their current losing streak, the Tigers have continued putting up a fight whenever they take the field. Missouri has lost their last three games by a combined total of 14 points. These matchups included a 17-14 overtime heartbreaker against Auburn, a 26-22 loss to No. 1 Georgia and most recently, a 24-17 defeat at the hands of Florida. Missouri has seen some strong performances from its defensive unit this season. The Tigers have only allowed over 25 points in a game once this season, and also forced 10 turnovers along the way.
While the Tigers’ defense has held up in the last month, their offense has stumbled a bit. After averaging 32.7 points per game in its first three games, Missouri’s offense has only put up 17.7 points per game in the last four weeks. This can be partly attributed to its struggles with its passing attack. Sophomore quarterback Brady Cook has only thrown for 1,217 yards and five touchdowns this season over six games. He has also thrown six interceptions during that span.
Missouri’s rushing attack has served as the driving force for their offense this season. The Tigers’ backfield has combined for 993 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Senior running backs Nathaniel Peat and Cody Schrader serve as the leaders for Missouri’s backfield tandem. Peat leads the team in rushing yards (379), while Schrader leads his squad in rushing touchdowns (four). The Tigers have also seen Cook chip in with some contributions on the ground as well. He has racked up 163 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on his own.
Commodores Looking For a Breakthrough
Needless to say, the Commodores have had a tough month. After playing three top-ten opponents back-to-back-to-back, Vanderbilt has been outscored 162-31 in its last three games. While they did put up a fight in their 52-28 loss to No. 7 Ole Miss, the Commodores could not keep up in their 55-3 loss to No. 6 Alabama and their 55-0 shutout defeat against No. 1 Georgia. Interestingly, all four of Vanderbilt’s losses this season have come at the hands of a ranked opponent. In their three matchups against unranked opponents, the Commodores have emerged victorious while averaging 47.7 points per game.
Freshman quarterback AJ Swann will be someone worth keeping an eye on in Saturday’s game. Swann took over as Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback four games into the season. In his first start against Northern Illinois, Swann threw for 255 yards and had four touchdowns in a 38-28 victory. On the season, Swann has racked up 953 yards and eight touchdowns while throwing no interceptions.
Junior wide receiver Will Sheppard and senior running back Ray Davis have also made their marks on Vanderbilt’s offense this season. Sheppard leads the team in receiving yards (497) and receiving touchdowns. Davis, on the other hand, leads his squad in rushing yards (536) and co-leads the Commodores in rushing touchdowns alongside former starting quarterback Mike Wright. Wright and Davis have each chipped in with four touchdowns on the ground.
Coach Drinkwitz’s Thoughts
Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz acknowledged Vanderbilt’s defense as one of its strengths entering Saturday’s game.
He cited the Commodores’ versatility with their defensive sets as something his offense will have to plan for accordingly:
The Commodores have not won an SEC matchup since Oct. 19, 2019. Ironically enough, that victory came against the Tigers. Vanderbilt knocked off Missouri in a 21-14 upset victory that sent the then-ranked Tigers into a downhill spiral the rest of the season. The Tigers will look to avoid falling victim to another embarrassing loss at the hands of the Commodores this weekend.
Kickoff between Missouri and Vanderbilt is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium.