It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was a road win for Missouri football (5-0) that showcased its offensive and defensive strengths against an SEC opponent.
The Tigers defeated Vanderbilt 38-21 in Nashville. Quarterback Brady Cook set an SEC record as part of his big day, and Luther Burden helped provide the knockout punch late.
Here are our postgame grades from Mizzou’s win over Vanderbilt...
The Mizzou football defense
Save for one drive in the first half, the Tigers’ defense was steady. It bent a bit but didn’t break for the majority of the game.
That’s why games are four quarters long, however. Missouri’s defense didn’t show out for all four periods of play.
Vanderbilt scored seven points in the first three quarters, and that was thanks to the Tigers’ defense making the right plays.
In the second half, when the Commodores drove into MU territory, Kris Abrams-Draine intercepted a Ken Seals pass for his third game in a row with an interception. While MU recorded one sack, it recorded four tackles for loss and nine pressures on Seals.
Still, there were plays where MU struggled.
Joesph Charleston was flagged for pass interference on a drive that led to a Vanderbilt touchdown. Realus George bailed the ‘Dores out with a roughing-the-passer flag that moved the ball out from inside Vanderbilt’s 10-yard line. The defense allowed two long fourth-quarter touchdowns that kept Vanderbilt in the game.
Those mistakes didn’t bury the Tigers on Saturday. They could later.
It was good enough for a win. There are still spots to clean up.
MU quarterback Brady Cook
The SEC’s new record holder for passes without an interception was as sharp as could be on Saturday afternoon.
Cook passed former Kentucky QB Andre Woodson, who held the record for most pass attempts without an interception with 325. MU’s quarterback finished the day 33 of 41 for 395 yards and three touchdowns. That’s another career-high passing day for Cook.
In a true road environment for the first time this season, Cook went over 300 passing yards for the third game in a row against FBS teams. The last Missouri quarterback to do that? Chase Daniel.
He’s evolving from a game-managing quarterback to a hometown hero right before our eyes, as the Mizzou captain is certainly playing at an All-SEC level.
Mizzou wide receiver Theo Wease
We know Luther Burden is great. Marquis Johnson just catches touchdowns, too.
But Theo Wease turned in a stellar day that showed how thoroughly complete the Tigers’ wide receiver group is. He and Burden went over the century mark, as Wease finished with 118 receiving yards on 10 receptions to go with a touchdown.
This is a season in which MU can flex its depth. Burden is a star, and this is common knowledge. Wease brings experience to the room that can help free up Burden as much as possible.
It helps when that veteran goes over 100 yards.
MU D-lineman Austin Firestone
Darius Robinson didn’t make the trip to Nashville. That meant the defense needed to find the next man up.
In the most important moment of the game, the next man up was Austin Firestone — and he delivered on a fourth-down play.
Firestone sacked Seals at the Vanderbilt 19-yard line to force a turnover on downs. That led to a touchdown toss to Burden just two plays later that basically sealed the win for Missouri.
Seeing Firestone step up was immense for a team that could stand to bolster its pass rush. Firestone’s sack was the first of the day for Missouri. It was arguably the play of the day.
The Star has partnered with the Columbia Daily Tribune for coverage of Missouri Tigers athletics.