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Pregamin’ Vanderbilt

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ANCHOR UP, BOYS AND GIRLS, CAUSE MIZZOU IS COMING TO STIR UP SOME HELL. LET’S PREGAME!

Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho sailors! It’s another week of Mizzou Football, another week of PREGAMIN’ and the first week since the beginning where we have a tie on our hands!

PREGAMIN’ SCOREBOARD

Writer Wins
Writer Wins
Ryan Herrera 3
Mitch Hill 3
Ryan Faller 1
Sean MacKinnon 1
Tim Bussen 0
Nate Edwards 0
Brandon Kiley 0
Josh Matejka 0

The Pregamin’ scoreboard has been built on runs so far, as Mitch was able to unseat Ryan Herrera and has gone on a three-week win streak of his own. This week, Tim and I will try to start streaks of our own. Looking at the predictions, things will come down to MVP.

Now drink up me hearties, yo-ho! It’s time to pregame! (I’m sorry, I only know what pirates say. Do sailors say other things?)

Flex on ‘em and then Flex on ‘em with highlights!

Nothing like reminding the opponent of your dominance over them in the recent past.

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean

These are easily my favorite costumes this year. I’ve always been a big sucker for all-whites, and the diamond-patterned helmet is the cherry on this particularly delicious sundae. Nice touch tapping Tennessee import Johnathon Johnson to sport the look, too.

Let’s Predict the Future!

WE FIRST PLACE, Y’ALL! With some good fortune in South Carolina and Baton Rouge, Mizzou finds itself in the driver’s seat of the SEC East. Forget the NCAA appeal for a second — what are the Tigers’ chances of actually winning their third division title in seven years?

Mitch Hill, Podcast Producer: I would say it is about a 37% chance. I’m not worried about Florida at home. I just don’t know about the Georgia game. If Mizzou only loses to Georgia and beats Florida the following week, the dreams are going to start feeling pretty real because Georgia might have 2 SEC losses at that time — they play at Auburn, which cannot be easy.

Tim Bussen, Staff Football Analyst:: Man, I hate making predictions, but, since it’s required, and since I’m feeling optimistic, I’ll give Mizzou a, say, 40% chance of taking the East.

Watching the South Carolina defense contain Georgia’s dangerous offensive attack inspires hope that Mizzou has a legitimate chance to win that game. Florida looks really good with Trask at the helm, but... I dunno, I really like this Tiger team. I give them as good a chance as these other contenders to the cake.

Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager: 45%. Even with Georgia’s shock loss, it’s still less than likely that Missouri will beat Georgia and Florida in back-to-back weeks. However, Florida and Georgia have both used up their wiggle room, and can no longer afford losses of any kind in the SEC. Florida would have to beat Georgia and Missouri to stay at one conference loss, while Georgia would need to beat Missouri and Auburn. Missouri can go 1-1 against the two and feel at least OK about their chances to win the East.

The defense didn’t look as good without Cale Garrett, but the offense turned in one of its best performances of the year after the Kelly Bryant scare. What are your adjusted expectations for these two units after last week?

Mitch Hill: Like I said last week, it sucks losing Cale Garrett, plain and simple. The defense has had its issues but was turning the corner. I think you will see some long runs here and there, because Cale was a pretty great fix-all. I still think there is plenty of talent elsewhere for this team to have a top 20 defense. As for the Offense, I think it will just get better from here. Kelly Bryant appears to be more comfortable now and Dooley is opening the playbook (See BK’s Love letter to Dooley). I think the Offense will continue to improve and it will be a well-oiled machine after these next two weeks.

Tim Bussen: Garrett’s loss hurts, no doubt. His absence means fewer momentum-changing plays, and a razor-thin margin for error against the run game. This probably went from a borderline-elite defense to a merely strong unit. Lack of pressure out of the four man rush and vulnerability of the safeties in man coverage are my main concerns. Nevertheless, the run-stuffing potential can make an opposing offense more one-dimensional and easier to attack. And I’ve loved the creativity Walters has shown with his schemes: changing fronts, using some pre-snap movement, and disguising coverages and blitzes until the ball is snapped.

If I have a criticism of the offense, it’s that the run game has taken a quarter or two to get rolling in the last couple games. In the preseason I thought the offensive line would simply reload — they were replacing the two weakest cogs, I thought — and move the line of scrimmage more consistently than they have. Like any team, the Tigers are most dangerous when both phases, running and passing, are humming. Bryant is a different quarterback than he was at Clemson. His running has taken a backseat — the “quarterback runs” page of the playbook appears to have been torn out after the injury scare — but his passing efficiency has been tremendous. The long airstrikes we enjoyed with Drew Lock are MIA; Bryant hasn’t shown much accuracy down the field. But Bryant keeps the chains a’ movin’, hitting short to intermediate routes at a healthy rate.

Josh Matejka: The offense is looking better than it has all season as Bryant has continued to gel with the weapons around him. The designed runs aren’t as present as they were earlier in the year, but Bryant has proven himself adept at picking defenses apart from the pocket and on the run. Missouri’s defense may not be elite, but they’re pretty damn good.

The same can be said for the defense, though I think we’ll need at least one more game to say specifically just how much of a drop-off there will be without Garrett. Even in last week’s fourth-quarter letdown against Ole Miss, Nick Bolton and Jordan Elliott looked good. If Cameron Wilkins can continue getting up to game speed and the secondary continues their strong play, Missouri should remain a top 25 unit.

Vanderbilt is a dumpster fire at the moment, but Missouri can’t afford any trap games, especially after Wyoming. What’s the biggest key to avoiding a catastrophe in Nashville?

Mitch Hill: Just like with most games against someone you should beat, DO NOT let them hang around and start to think they are in it. Georgia did it with South Carolina and you saw how that went. Mizzou let up against Wyoming and, hey, we all know that story. Just go in there, start fast, and don’t let up. There’s no reason to do so.

Tim Bussen: Consistent effort. Consistent. Effort.

Some have speculated that the defense ran out of gas at the end of the Ole Miss game, but I suspect it was a lull in intensity. Even watching through a computer screen on my porch, I sensed a precipitous drop in energy once the Tigers stretched their lead to three scores. And the Rebels took advantage, pushing around a previously stout defensive front.

Vanderbilt is not good. But let them hang around too long, let them start to believe they can win, and Mizzou could have a dogfight on its hands late in the game.

It’s difficult to raise the energy once it’s dissipated. Keep the intensity high from kickoff to the final whistle, and they’ll blow the Commodores out of the stadium.

Josh Matejka: Boat race them. Vanderbilt shouldn’t be able to keep up with Missouri, especially if the Tigers can strike first. Score early, score often and don’t stop scoring until you’re up a few touchdowns. That’s a simple formula for winning, but you don’t need to do too much against the ‘Dores.

PICK ‘EM! Let’s get a score and over/under (56.5) plus your MVP pick!

Mitch Hill: Mizzou Wins this one 42-10... so the Under. The only reason why the Under is appealing here is because I don’t think Vandy will offer much scoring help. MVP is going to be Jonathan Nance — KB should have some fun throwing the ball early and Nance and him have some chemistry, so look for him to be too much to contain. 160(ish) yards, 2 TDs. [Editor’s Note: Mitch’s run up the Pregamin’ score board has been bolstered by some good MVP picking, so this pick is very interesting to me]

Tim Bussen: I’ll take the under with a score of 45-10 in favor of the Good Guys.

Sharing the field with Vandy’s standout Jared Pinkney inspires Albert O to leave no doubt who is the superior tight end. AO goes off for six catches, 100-some yards, two TDs... and the Tiger MVP trophy.

Josh Matejka: The offense could end up being fairly vanilla, so I’m going to ride with the most dependable option on the field — Larry Rountree III (editor’s note: we call him Larry Three Sticks™ ‘round here). He’ll rack up more than 100 yards and two scores before Odom pulls him to get Dawson Downing some clean up possessions. The game stays under, 41-10 to Missouri.