Can Missouri’s OL win the battle up front versus Vanderbilt?

The OL has to open up holes for Hansbrough against a tough Vandy front seven
Denny Medley/Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With Drew Lock struggling of late, Missouri needs to take pressure off of its freshman signal-caller. 

Making the running game a point of emphasis appears to be the best way to help in this capacity. With one of the conference’s best running backs in Russell Hansbrough, the Tigers should be able to pick up yardage on the ground. 

However, Vanderbilt will provide Missouri’s offensive line with an incredibly stiff challenge. 

Despite sitting at 2-4 overall, the Commodores have played exceptionally well on the defensive side of the ball. They’re giving up an average of only 18.5 points a contest. 

Additionally, the defense ranks sixth-overall in "stuff rate." This stat takes into account the amount of opponents’ carries that have either been "stuffed" at the line of scrimmage, or carries that have gone for loss. Defensive linemen Jay Woods and Adam Butler are integral members of this front. 

A conundrum exists for Missouri. While Lock has demonstrated the ability to stretch the field vertically, he hasn’t been overly consistent in doing so (which is to be expected for a true freshman). The Tigers could opt to run the football extensively, but this in theory plays to the strength of the Vanderbilt defense. 

When it comes down to it, Missouri’s offensive line must open up holes for Hansbrough. If he can run with some effectiveness, it will open up things in the passing game. Becoming one-dimensional is the last thing Missouri would want to have happen in what could be a low-scoring, close contest.

 

(h/t Rock M Nation)