Missouri dropped a 21-14 stunner at Vanderbilt Saturday that left fans confused following a five-game win streak. While the Tigers are still in contention for the SEC East division, the road looks much more difficult after a loss to what was a reeling Commodores team (2-5 overall, 1-3 SEC).
Here are the grades for the offense, defense, special teams and coaches, along with a preview of this week’s opponent, Kentucky.
Play of the game
Kelly Bryant interception: The quarterback made a poor decision going to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who had two defenders covering him. The turnover was a microcosm of a loss rife with missed opportunities. Had the Tigers scored, it would’ve changed the complexity of the one-score game.
Offense: D-. Bryant and the offense never looked comfortable against the Vanderbilt defense. They strung together some drives but only converted once on a touchdown. The other score came after an interception put the Tigers at Vandy’s 6-yard line. For an offense averaging 38.8 points per game, it left a lot to be desired.
Defense: C. As a whole, it’s difficult to put too much blame on the defense. Cameron Wilkins’ interception was a huge play. Nick Bolton had 15 tackles, three for a loss. But as Bolton himself said, they couldn’t get off the field when it counted. They also allowed some big plays, allowing the Commodores to gain yardage in chunks.
Special teams: D. Two missed field goals from the generally reliable Tucker McCann from 48 and 50 yards didn’t help the Tigers. Cade Musser didn’t do much on punt returns, either. On the bright side, McCann did well in the punting game, averaging 50.1 yards on seven attempts, dropping three inside the opposing 20-yard line.
Coaching: D-. The general theme from Barry Odom’s post-game talk with reporters was how he felt the Tigers were out-coached by Vanderbilt and Derek Mason. Between failing to adjust on offense to feeling uncomfortable all game, it was a forgettable performance from Odom and his coaching staff.
The Tigers return to the road facing another struggling SEC East foe in Kentucky (3-4 overall, 1-4 SEC). Here are two areas to improve for the Saturday (6 p.m., SEC Network) game:
1. Offensive bounce-back: After a season-worst performance from the offense, how MU responds to Saturday’s struggles is key. The Tigers have relied on solid passing and rushing, but both phases of the offense were largely missing against the Commodores. Against a solid Kentucky defense, the offense will have to produce.
2. Road woes: The Tigers have one more road game before they travel to Athens to take on Georgia (6-1, 3-1). Missouri, now 0-2 on the road this season, looks like a completely different team away from Faurot Field. That must change. The rest of the season features more road games than home appearances.