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Previewing Saturday’s Mizzou-Vanderbilt game with Tom Stephenson from Anchor of Gold

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We sat down with Anchor of Gold’s Tom Stephenson as Missouri faces Vanderbilt for their first SEC road game on Saturday afternoon.

UNLV v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

For the first time since August 31st at Wyoming, the No. 22 ranked Missouri Tigers (5-1, 2-0 SEC) will play on the road against the Vanderbilt Commodores (1-5, 0-3 SEC). Let’s hope this road game goes better! Kickoff is set for 3 pm CST as Mizzou will look to make it six wins in a row.

Here’s what Tom Stephenson from Anchor of Gold had to say about the upcoming match up (newsflash— it ain’t pretty):

Sammy Stava: What has gone wrong for Vanderbilt so far this season? Obviously, playing Georgia and LSU right out of the gate doesn’t help, but after a 34-10 loss at home to UNLV, is this pretty much writing on the wall for Derek Mason?

Tom Stephenson: Uh, everything. And you’re right, for a few weeks things could be written off as a result of playing Georgia and LSU, but it became crystal clear in the last three weeks that this just isn’t a very good team. The quarterback play has been subpar, the offensive line, while no longer disastrous since the return of Devin Cochran, is still not what I would consider good, and the defense has issues getting pressure on the QB, problems stopping the run, and has a habit of just giving up all sorts of dink-and-dunk underneath routes and then failing to actually tackle the receiver after he catches the ball. And as far as Derek Mason, his situation is quickly becoming untenable because the team is dreadful, the attendance sucks (announced attendance for the UNLV game: 20,048, and I can only imagine what the crowd will look like when East Tennessee State comes to town in November). His only saving grace might be that he signed an extension earlier this year, and while the contract details aren’t public, we can only assume that his buyout is not insignificant. Of course, since that time, Vanderbilt has hired a new Athletic Director and will soon have a new Chancellor as well, and I don’t think anybody imagined the team would be this bad.

SS: What were the expectations surrounding Vanderbilt entering the season? I thought with their senior trio of Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Kalija Lipscomb, and Jared Pinkney, they had the potential of at least making a bowl game.

TS: Depending on who you asked, the expectations ranged from “bowl game” to “not great but still competitive, maybe 4-8 or 5-7.” There were certainly people who were predicting that Vanderbilt would be really bad, but they were mostly people who just see “Vanderbilt” and assume they will be bad regardless of being able to name more than three players on the team, and also Andy Staples (noted Florida homer). Of course, most of the expectations relied on getting at least competent quarterback play, which has decidedly not been the case.

SS: Who do expect to start at quarterback on Saturday? Riley Neal or Deuce Wallace?

TS: Hell if I know. Riley Neal hasn’t been good, but he’s held on to the job by being marginally better than Deuce Wallace. Now there’s a rumor that Derek Mason told third-string walk-on Mo Hasan that he’d be the starter on Saturday, and Mason even mentioned fourth-stringer Allan Walters as having maximized his reps in practice lately. At this point you could name any of the four and it would not surprise me. Actually, I would not be surprised if we saw all four on Saturday.

SS: Is there any reason to believe or hope that Vanderbilt can turn things around in the second half of the season, or do they look like a team that has given up at this point?

TS: They are what they are at this point. The quarterback play isn’t going to get better, the defense won’t suddenly get bigger or faster, the offensive coordinator probably isn’t going to become good at his job, and Mason probably isn’t going to figure out not to punt from the other team’s 35.

SS: Missouri is currently a 21.5 point favorite. How do you see this game playing out on Saturday? Have a final score prediction?

TS: Vanderbilt is 0-6 against the spread this year. Ergo, I cannot predict them to cover the spread, much less win this game. Ke’Shawn Vaughn might break free for a big run or two to get Vanderbilt on the board, but I’m currently having nightmares about Kelly Bryant against this defense. Final score: 42-14, Mizzou.

Thanks to Tom Stephenson for the time. You can follow him on Twitter (@tcstephenson1) and @anchorofgold for a Vanderbilt perspective this week.