The Missouri Tigers (3-3) are looking to get over the .500 mark for the first time in the Eli Drinkwitz era on this Thanksgiving weekend. But instead of an intriguing game with Arkansas that had plenty of storylines, the win-less Vanderbilt Commodores (0-7) come to Columbia as there’s been another schedule change due to COVID.
This is arguably Drinkwitz’s first must-win as Missouri’s head coach, as the Tigers can’t afford to lose to Vandy back-to-back years, especially this time around. Kick-off on Saturday is set for 11:00 a.m. CT on the SEC Network (NOT the alternate channel this time!)
To break down this match up, Sammy Stava and Anchor of Gold’s Tom Stephenson sat down with a Q and A, discussing the SEC schedule the rest of the way, Vanderbilt’s quarterback situation, their motivation level and much more.
Sammy Stava: First off, with another week of schedule changes, how confident are you that every SEC conference game gets played this season and each team plays a full 10-game schedule?
Tom Stephenson: Hot take: I think they will. Everybody is still capable of getting in a full schedule as of now, and now that regular students are off campus that may clear some things up. It may end up being easier to get through the next three weeks than it was the last few.
SS: While Vanderbilt is a winless at 0-7, the Commodores have been showing some improvement lately. They almost beat Mississippi State, put up 35 points against a Kentucky defense, and had a respectable showing against Florida. At the very least, are you somewhat encouraged with what you have seen these last three games?
TS: Yeah — on one side of the ball. The offense continues to develop, as you’d expect from a unit that has a true freshman quarterback and an offensive line that had to be assembled on the fly after a few projected starters opted out of the season. But I still don’t like what I am seeing on the defensive side of the ball, and that unit continues to get hit with defections, the latest being LB Dimitri Moore leaving the team this week.
SS: Through seven games, quarterback Ken Seals is 153/250 (66.5 completion percentage), with 1,610 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 131.8 QBR. How would you grade the true freshman’s season thus far?
TS: He gets a B- assuming I’m not grading on a curve, and a lot of the reason it’s not better than that is the interceptions, but also the fact that the coaching staff is only sort of opening up the playbook for him. It actually reminds me a lot of Kyle Shurmur circa 2016, but he was a sophomore at that point.
SS: Do you think this is a team that will come in motivated enough to put forth a competitive effort on Saturday or do you believe they have checked out for this season? Is there any reason to believe that last season’s win over Mizzou will give them some much needed confidence heading into this one?
TS: There’s really no reason to think the team has checked out on the season, or at least the guys who are still on it. Nothing I’ve seen over the past three weeks would convince me of that. But I also don’t think last year’s win over Mizzou will do much for confidence considering that most of the guys responsible for that are no longer on the team.
SS: How do you see this game playing out on Saturday? Do you have a final score prediction?
TS: Vandy still plays hard but doesn’t quite have the athleticism to keep up. I’ll call this one 38-24 in Mizzou’s favor.
Thank you to Tom for the time on this. You can follow him and Anchor of Gold on Twitter for Vanderbilt coverage this week.