OVERALL TEAM PERFORMANCE
Missouri’s defense this year has been nothing special, allowing 394.8 ypg with 21 total touchdowns. They have, however, done a nice job on 3rd downs, only allowing about 35% to be converted. They don’t force many turnovers, and are pretty good against the run, allowing 135 ypg. However, their secondary leaves much to be desired as it ranks in the bottom tier of the SEC in defensive passing efficiency. They are also not very good at red zone defense, where they are allowing points on 90% of opponents trips inside of the 20. Given they’ve allowed 21 of those trips in five games, they are not particularly formidable.
Missouri has been pretty decent at finding some sack specialists over the past few years, but this year they don’t seem to have one. The Tigers only have 7 in five games, 1 less than Vanderbilt in six. Sophomore DL Trajan Jeffcoat is responsible for the most sacks out of this unit with 3, and sophomore DL Isaiah McGuire has 1. Most of the additional pressure is created by their linebackers. That being said, as stated above, this unit holds up pretty well against the run. Injuries have been a concern here as some of their senior projected starters haven’t seen as much of the field.
Missouri’s got a couple of real good ones in Devin Nicholson and Nick Bolton. Nicholson has 43 tackles with 1.5 sacks and an interception on the year, and Bolton has 67 tackles and 1 sack. Bolton has obvious talent and will likely be an NFL draft pick. This unit is definitely the team’s strongest.
Missouri’s secondary returned three starters from last years team, and Martez Manuel has found his way in to the starting lineup and has done the most with it. Manuel and returning starter Tyree Gillespie have played pretty well this year at the respective safety positions, with Manuel recording 1.5 sacks on the year. Still, as stated above, they haven’t done a particularly good job of keeping teams out of the end zone once they’re in scoring range and they haven’t exactly been shut down.
Missouri did not have Defensive Coordinator Ryan Walters against the Game Penises due to contact tracing issues, but they ended up doing just fine under David Gibbs, who took the role on last time. Walters should be back this week.
Vanderbilt should be able to throw on this defense, and it may take only a couple of scores to make this work. I don’t think Missouri is anywhere near the mess that Tennessee is, but the team is a middle-lower of the pack SEC squad who can win a game it shouldn’t but doesn’t have the consistency yet to climb the ladder. Of course, Vanderbilt is at the absolute bottom right now so I suppose shade shouldn’t be thrown anywhere, but the program desperately needs a win of any kind and this is one that could happen.