The Missouri defense has seen a complete 180 in the past two games, forcing the mediocre Kentucky and Florida offenses into fits.
The game Saturday against Vanderbilt should go just about the same way.
The Commodores rank 82nd in the country and ninth in the SEC in total offense, averaging 383.8 yards per game. To put it in perspective, Florida — who managed just 17 points, 323 yards and went 3-for-15 on third downs — is 81st in the country in total offense.
Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur is the focal point of this offense, but to be frank, he’s nothing to be afraid of. The senior ranks 55th in the country in pass efficiency (138.2) and 47th in passing yards per game (226.3), but has a respectable 60 percent completion rate.
Against teams with less-than-average secondaries such as Missouri’s (120th in FBS), though, Shurmur has performed exceptionally. Last week against Arkansas (105th in FBS), he had an efficient 13-for-19 (68.4%) day, leading the Commodores to a 45-31 win. In Vanderbilt’s Week 2 victory over Nevada (108th in FBS), he had another big day — going 23-for-32 (71.9%) for 258 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Even though opposing quarterbacks have been able to have efficient days against the Tigers’ defense this season, the Missouri secondary stepped up in a big way in last Saturday’s upset win over Florida, allowing just 210 yards of passing on 47.5 percent passing. When they can do that, it forces the opposition to beat the Tigers on the ground.
Florida, Kentucky and plenty of other teams can attest — you don’t want to do that.
Missouri has the fourth-best run defense in the SEC, allowing just 125 yards rushing per game on a 3.59 yards per carry average. They trail defensive powerhouses Alabama, Mississippi State and Texas A&M in those categories. Good luck pounding it in the end zone, too — the Tigers have allowed just seven rushing touchdowns in nine games.
It should be no problem stopping Vanderbilt’s rushing attack Saturday, as the Commodores rank 84th in the country in rushing yards per game (153.2) and average just 4.57 yards per carry. Missouri hasn’t faced any opponent as weak of a rushing attack — the closest being 80th-ranked Purdue, who mustered up just 42 yards of rushing all night against Terry Beckner Jr., Cale Garrett and the stout Missouri front-seven.
(To be fair, Purdue didn’t HAVE to run the ball much with what it did through the air.)
Shurmur may have a fairly efficient game against the Tigers come Saturday, but it won’t be nearly enough to put up a whole lot of points. This should be a fairly easy game defensively for Missouri.