Advertise with usContact UsRTI Team

2016 Opponent Look Ahead: Missouri

Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics
Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

Missouri vs Tennessee

When: Saturday, Nov. 19th

Where: Knoxville, Tenn. (Neyland Stadium)

Missouri at a glance

Head Coach: Barry Odom (1st year)

Conference: SEC

All-time record: 668–541–53

2015 results: 5-7 (1-7)

2015 Overview: The Tigers experienced a brutal five-win season in Gary Pinkel’s last season as head coach. Missouri averaged just 13.6 points per game, which ranked second-worst in the nation. Quarterback Maty Mauk was suspended twice early in the season, and he didn’t play again after September 26th. While the Tigers had one of the nation’s best defenses, it wasn’t enough to help them regularly find the win column

Not only did Missouri have on-the-field issues, the Tigers had plenty off-the-field as well. In early November, Mizzou players announced a boycott in support of racial protests and a campus-wide hunger strike. Even though the boycott didn’t necessarily affect the players, the school’s president resigned which is still carrying repercussions. Also, Gary Pinkel was diagnosed with lymphoma and decided to retire. The Tigers decided to stay in-house and promote defensive coordinator Barry Odom to head coach.

The Tigers return 13 starters across the board from their five-win team. The loss of linebacker Kentrell Brothers and running back Russell Hansbrough will be felt. Drew Lock (So.) returns at quarterback, along with only two returning receivers. The defense returns eight starters, including highly touted defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr and senior linebacker Micahel Scherer. Many projections, however, point to Missouri winning only five or six games this year.

Three questions for this game

1. How will Barry Odom fare as a first year head coach?

Odom has only faced the Vols once, and that was last year’s 19-8 loss for the Tigers in Columbia. The only difference being he was the defensive coordinator then, so he’ll have more pressure on him in this year’s contest. This is Odom’s first year as a college head coach. His only head coaching experience comes from Rock Bridge High School (2001-2002). Needless to say, he’s going to have a very difficult challenge ahead of him as he tries to guide a bad Missouri team through the SEC gauntlet.

The Tigers may have another nationally ranked defense this year, so the Vols may have another tough task ahead of them. However, Tennessee boasts much more talent and experience, so the Vols should be able to roll on past the Tigers in Knoxville without too much worry.

2. How good will Drew Lock be?

Drew Lock came out of high school as a highly-regarded prospect, and he definitely has some upside. He still has a lot to prove, though, as he was thrown into the fire and struggled heavily as a freshman. It didn’t help that Mauk was suspended, the run game was largely absent, and the receiving corps was composed of mostly sophomores. In 2015, Lock threw for 1,332 yards, which isn’t awful from a freshman thrown into the starting position halfway through the season. On the flip side, he threw only four touchdowns compared to his eight interceptions. With another offseason to practice and develop, look for Lock to play better in this year’s game, but not enough to secure a Tiger victory.

3. Will the Missouri defense have another elite unit?

While Missouri’s offense was horrid, the defense was one of the lone bright spots. The defensive unit ranked sixth nationally in total defense, which was second best in the SEC behind Alabama. The defense also ranked fifth nationally (2nd in SEC) in scoring defense (16.2 ppg).

The Tigers are returning eight defensive starters, with four of those on a solid defensive line led by Terry Beckner Jr at tackle and Charles Harris at end. Kentrell Brothers recorded an amazing 152 tackles last season at linebacker, but he’s gone. The team’s second leading tackler, however, is Michael Scherer (92 tackles), and he will be leading the defense in that middle linebacker spot. It’s safe to say Missouri can produce another great defensive year in 2016. The defense has given Tennessee fits ever since the Tigers joined the SEC in 2012 simply because they’ve been loaded with talent. However, the Vols offense should prove to be too much for the Tigers in 2016.

How we expect it to play out

The Vols secured an ugly 19-8 victory last year in Columbia. In 2014, the Vols fell short with a score of 21-29 in Knoxville. So far, Missouri owns a 3-1 record against Tennessee, but it looks like that will swing the other way for the unseeable future. Butch Jones has reeled in elite recruiting classes over the last three years, and that will begin to show starting this year.

The talent and depth between the two teams isn’t that close. Tennessee has too many playmakers on both sides of the ball, so don’t expect Missouri to pose too much of a threat. The Mizzou defense might give the Vols some fits early on, but eventually, the Volunteer faithful will be pleased as the orange and white will come out victorious in a convincing fashion.

Similar Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet Us