The Missouri Tigers (4-5, 1-4 SEC) will host Butch Jones and the Tennessee Volunteers (4-5, 0-5 SEC) under the lights at Faurot Field on Saturday. The Volunteers hold a two-game win streak over the Tigers coming into the matchup. However, Missouri is riding high after a 45-16 beat down of the Florida Gators last week.
Here is everything you need to know about the Tigers going into Saturday’s contest.
Junior quarterback Drew Lock leads the SEC in passing yards and passing touchdowns by a landslide. Lock has nearly 2,800 passing yards and 31 touchdowns, which is 500 yards and 11 touchdowns better than the next best quarterback in the SEC. He has also tallied over three touchdowns in every game, but three this season. Lock will be a huge test for the fickle Vols secondary.
When people think of Missouri, they think of its passing game. However, the Tigers have a deceptively talented stable of tailbacks. Senior Ish Witter, sophomore Damarea Crockett and true freshman Larry Rountree III have all combined for over 1,200 yards of rushing and nine touchdowns on the ground. It is reported that Crockett may not play against Tennessee, but Rountree III and Witter both still average over five yards-per-carry.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Thanks to Lock, Missouri has three receivers with over 500 receiving yards and five receivers with three touchdowns or more in 2017. J’Mon Moore will be the biggest threat for the Vols, with over 40 receptions for 740 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns this season. However, the Tigers have an immense amount of depth at receiver and tight end that will surely be used to their advantage. Emanuel Hall, Johnathon Johnson and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam will all be impact players against Tennessee.
The Missouri offensive line has done a great job of protecting Lock and opening the run lanes for the running backs in 2017. Lock has only been sacked seven times all season, and three Tigers running backs have over five yards-per-carry. The Missouri O-line looks solid under head coach Barry Odom, as the Tigers did not have one single negative-yardage play against the Gators last week.
The Tigers defensive front was a disaster at the beginning of the season, but they have come alive in recent weeks. With the return of senior nose tackle AJ Logan to the roster, the Missouri front seven has been revitalized. The Tigers have registered 11 sacks and 29 tackles-for-loss in the past three games against Idaho, Connecticut and Florida. Junior defensive end Terry Beckner Jr. has logged 15 tackles and four sacks alone in his last three contests. The horrid Tennessee offensive line will surely have its hands full with the Missouri front seven.
The Tigers secondary has been the most inconsistent and troubling part of the defense. The Missouri secondary gives up over 250 passing yards per game, which is the second-worst in the SEC, and one of the poorest in the NCAA. Safeties Kaleb Prewett and Anthony Sherrils lead the Tigers secondary with a combined 81 tackles and 4.5 tackles-for-loss in 2017. Underclassmen cornerbacks Adam Sparks and DeMarkus Acy will need to step up in order for Missouri to eliminate the Vols pass game on Saturday.
Rountree III takes care of kick returns for the Tigers, as he has tallied 239 yards on nine attempts with average of 27 yards-per-return. Although he has yet to break one, the true freshman has proven he is capable of making big plays. Richaud Floyd has registered 128 yards and a touchdown returning punts for the Tigers this season. Punter Corey Fatony has been deadly in 2017 with an average of 46 yards-per-punt. Finally, Missouri’s special teams is rounded out by kicker Tucker McCann, who has made eight of 10 kicks this season with a long of 42.
Featured image courtesy of Creative Commons
Edited by Ben McKee