by Paul Leatherman
by Paul Leatherman
Early on in the Heupel era; the Tennessee Volunteers have been beating themselves more than being out-manned in their two losses so far in the season. Coach Heupel has spoke to this problem with zero excuses. Heupel has stated many times that the team has to execute better, plain and simple. Whether that be the fault of the players or the coaching staff, it’s clear to see that the Vols need to win this game in Columbia for many reasons. Recruiting and continuing to win over this fan base will prove crucial for Heupel, and these are games you have to win to do so. So, what do the Vols need to do to split the road trip? It’s quite simple really.
Stop the running game.
The Missouri Tigers have been able to generate yards and points consistently throughout in the young season. The tigers have rushed for 634 yards this season, 417 of these yards come from RB Tyler Badie. Badie is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and has scored 5 TD on the ground this season. Heupel has stressed this in his press conferences leading up to this game. When asked about Badie, coach Heupel stated,
“For them, offensively, everything kind of goes through that running back. Whether that’s the run game or him being heavily involved in the pass game, the guys (Badie) been dynamic, near top in the country in total yards and productivity, really good football player….”Head Coach Josh Heupel on Missouri running back Tyler Badie
It’s clear to see that limited the Tigers’ run game will be crucial to a Tennessee win.
Take advantage of a struggling defense.
Whether or not Hendon Hooker is good to go for the Volunteers after suffering an apparent upper-body injury last week vs Florida, Tennessee’s offense should have a big day. Missouri’s defense has been abysmal so far through four games this season. The Tigers defense is allowing north of 450 yards per game and has not held an opponent under 20 points all season. Missouri has allowed 268 yards of rushing per game to opponents. This benefits the Vols heavily, especially if Hooker is a no-go. Joe Milton lll has struggled to throw the ball deep all season, and the Vols will need to lean on running backs Tiyon Evans and Jabari Small to carry the offensive load for Tennessee. The Vols are in great position for a big road win, which at this point in a season, where the scheduling gets worse before it gets better. It is crucial for Heupel to win games like this if he looks to be bowl eligible in year one.
It’s clear to see that the stars are aligning for the Vols to secure their first SEC win of the season against a lack-luster Missouri team. If the Vols defense can limit the running game and the offense can win the ground game, the Vols should walk out of Columbia with a comfortable win.
My prediction: Tennessee 45, Missouri 28.