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Missouri 17, Vanderbilt 14: Nobody deserved to win this game

Unfortunately, somebody had to, and it wasn’t Vanderbilt.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Box Score

Five Factors Vanderbilt Missouri
Five Factors Vanderbilt Missouri
Plays 72 64
Total Yards 300 302
Yards Per Play 4.17 4.72
Rushing Attempts 26 36
Rushing Yards 61 115
Rushing YPP 2.35 3.19
Passing Attempts 46 28
Passing Yards 239 187
Passing YPP 5.20 6.68
Rushing Success Rate 26.92% 33.33%
Passing Success Rate 32.61% 46.43%
Success Rate 30.56% 39.06%
Avg. Field Position 35.3 23.4
PP40 1.40 3.40
Turnovers 1 4

To sum up Saturday’s game: Missouri committed four turnovers, one of them leading directly to a Vanderbilt touchdown, two more giving Vanderbilt excellent field position. Missouri’s offense also didn’t do a whole lot after opening the game with a touchdown on a scripted-play drive; they also ran a nice two-minute drill benefiting from Vanderbilt not doing much to stop Missouri’s receivers from getting out of bounds to end the first half with a field goal. That was also the last time they scored.

Vanderbilt’s offense had five scoring opportunities — two of them gifted by defense and special teams — and scored seven points. The only offensive touchdown came on an 80-yard pass play. Other than that, Vanderbilt’s four scoring chances resulted in a missed field goal, a punt (after an offensive pass interference penalty pushed them back to the Missouri 48), an interception in the end zone, and another missed field goal.

If you’re Missouri, you can’t expect to win while generating 4.72 yards per play, a 39 percent success rate, committing four turnovers, and having a field position disadvantage of around 12 yards per drive. If you’re Vanderbilt, you can’t expect to win with 4.17 yards per play, a 30 percent success rate, and four scoring opportunities coming up empty.

It’s frustrating when the other team is basically gifting you a win and you don’t take it, but I don’t put this on the coaching staff, exactly. For one thing, Vanderbilt’s offense to this point had been reliant on Ray Davis reliably getting 3-4 yards per carry and keeping Vanderbilt ahead of the chains; this is what happens when Davis is getting more like 1-2 yards per carry.

For another thing, the coaches aren’t kicking field goals. The coaches didn’t throw an interception on 1st and goal at the 9. In hindsight, that might have actually swung the outcome: were it not for the turnover, Vanderbilt would have come away with at least a field goal (okay, okay, that was no guarantee on Saturday), but more importantly, Missouri probably wouldn’t have had enough time to drive the field to set up its own field goal.

Oh, yeah. Vanderbilt couldn’t convert a 4th and 1 in the final minute and would have converted if Mike Wright had simply snapped the ball when a Missouri defensive lineman jumped into the neutral zone. There’s only so much the coaches can do.

You can complain all you want about the state of the program; it’s bad. You can also recognize just who is responsible for the biggest issue with the team (the talent level.) There are no easy answers here, and we don’t need to know the answer 20 games into Clark Lea’s tenure.

Individual Stats


Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
A.J. Swann 13 30 43.33% 115 0 1 1 3 112 32.26% 3.6
Mike Wright 9 15 60.00% 127 1 0 0 0 127 33.33% 8.5

This was genuinely weird: I was listening to the radio broadcast in the third quarter while my daughters played outside, and the radio guys to their credit noticed that A.J. Swann wasn’t on the sideline when Mike Wright came onto the field... but scrolling through Twitter and the comments at Anchor of Gold, apparently the TV broadcast didn’t notice this and thus a lot of fans just assumed that Swann had been pulled.

Which obviously would have been something to give the coaching staff hell over, only it didn’t happen, and Clark Lea said in the postgame presser that Swann got hurt. We don’t know the extent of the injury, but Wright’s performance doesn’t suggest that he should be the starter from here on out — take away the 80-yard touchdown, and he went 8-for-14 for 47 yards.


Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Ray Davis 15 28 1.866666667 0 20.00%
Patrick Smith 8 18 2.25 0 37.50%
Matt Hayball 1 11 11 0 100.00%
A.J. Swann 1 2 2 0 0.00%
Mike Wright 1 2 2 0 0.00%

...though it is something of a mystery why the coaching staff didn’t utilize Wright’s running ability more when he was in the game.

I touched on this in the intro, but the running game has to do better than this for Vanderbilt to have a chance.


Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
Will Sheppard 14 3 28 0 21.43% 2.0 9.3 21.43%
Ben Bresnahan 6 5 32 0 83.33% 5.3 6.4 50.00%
Jayden McGowan 6 3 4 0 50.00% 0.7 1.3 16.67%
Quincy Skinner 5 4 46 0 80.00% 9.2 11.5 60.00%
Ray Davis 4 2 7 0 50.00% 1.8 3.5 25.00%
Gamarion Carter 4 1 80 1 25.00% 20.0 80.0 25.00%
Gavin Schoenwald 2 2 28 0 100.00% 14.0 14.0 100.00%
Patrick Smith 2 1 9 0 50.00% 4.5 9.0 50.00%
Justin Ball 1 1 8 0 100.00% 8.0 8.0 0.00%

Well, uh, this was a pretty brutal game for Will Sheppard. It’s something of a mystery to me why Vanderbilt has played three quarterbacks in the Clark Lea era and all three of them have developed tunnel vision for 14. Sheppard’s good, but he’s not that good.


If there was a positive from this game... well, the defense did well after getting shredded on the opening drive. Jaylen Mahoney had five tackles for loss and a sack, Anfernee Orji had 12 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery (on two different plays), and an interception. Devin Lee had a sack and a forced fumble, C.J. Taylor had a scoop and score.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt has a bye week, then hosts South Carolina on November 5.