Each game has certain matchups within it that are oh so very important to the outcome. Matchups so important that they can be the difference between a win and a loss. For every game this season, I’ll be taking a look at what I consider to be the three most important matchups regarding an individual or even between position groups.
Let’s get to it.
Missouri’s Offensive Line vs Vanderbilt’s Front 6
Through the first six games of the season, Missouri’s offensive line has been outmatched in almost every game they’ve played. They’ve struggled in pass protection, in the run game and in the discipline aspect of the game as well. This unit is responsible for a lot of back breaking penalties.
Going against Vanderbilt with over a week off, they shouldn’t be overmatched. They should be refreshed and ready to go against a unit that is giving up 493 yards per game in 2022. Furthermore, in the last three games, they’re giving up just under 600 yards per game to opponents. This is a defense the Tigers SHOULD be able to move around a bit. Any hope of this season turning itself around is going to have to start with this offensive line improving their overall level of play. Without improved play from the offensive line specifically, it just isn’t feasible to expect a turnaround from this team.
Missouri’s Defense vs AJ Swann
While Mizzou fans are clamoring for their own true freshman quarterback to receive playing time, there's another highly-touted true freshman quarterback in the SEC East who has already began to see playing time. That would be AJ Swann, who took over for Mike Wright after a couple weeks at the helm.
Swann, a 4-star out of Canton, Ga., has performed admirably considering the Commodores’ schedule and overall situation. After relieving Wright in their game against Wake Forest, Swann faced Northern Illinois and actually performed well (18/28, 255, 4TD). But then he played at Alabama, home against Ole Miss, and away at Georgia last week… Talk about a murderers row. Still, even against the stiff competition, in 133 attempts, Swann still has yet to throw an interception.
I’m not saying that this kid is Bryce Young, but I am saying that he seems to be - at worst - a capable quarterback who deserves some level of respect. It would behoove Missouri and this defense to not allow him to become comfortable by sitting back and playing deep zone coverage. I hope they’ll be aggressively blitzing as well to keep him off balance. Maybe they can even create that first turnover for Swann. First and foremost, though, the Tigers need to make him uncomfortable and not play too conservative.
Missouri’s Wide Receivers vs Vanderbilt’s Secondary
Not going to lie... I feel good about this matchup.
Everyone is healthy. Everyone is focused. Back at home... Who’s to say this isn’t the coming out party for the Missouri wide receiver room? If there was a perfect week for this, it’d be this one. This Vanderbilt secondary isn’t particularly inspiring. Opponents are averaging 333 passing yards per game on this secondary and you can make an argument that Missouri’s wide receiver room has just as much explosiveness to it as any room Vandy has seen so far.
You also gotta believe that the wide outs have been in the lab with Brady Cook over the past week or so.
So, to stake my claim and be specific: Dom Lovett and Luther Burden III both find a way into the end zone. Both are over 100 all purpose yards. Take it to your bookie.