Monday Musings: Back to SEC play

Sept. 30, 2013

Vanderbilt will continue its homestand Saturday when Missouri visits Vanderbilt Stadium for homecoming. It will be Missouri's first trip to Nashville as a member of the Southeastern Conference and just its second overall visit to Vanderbilt. The only other time the two schools met in Nashville was a 7-7 tie in 1957. The low scoring was in part due to poor conditions, which prevented either team from completing a pass.

Later this season, Vanderbilt will meet Texas A&M, the other newest member of the SEC, for the first time when the Commodores travel to College Station, Texas.

Saturday's game will start at 6:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on CSS. The Commodores (3-2, 0-2 SEC) enter the matchup having won two straight games. Missouri is 4-0, but is yet to play a league game. Missouri will close the season with eight straight SEC games, while the Commodores will play six straight conference foes before facing Wake Forest in the final regular season game for both squads.

Last season, Vanderbilt won a closely-contested game, 19-15, in Columbia. The Commodores overcame an early deficit and withstood a late Missouri drive to claim their first SEC win of the season and the first road league win under James Franklin.

This week is also homecoming on campus. There are a number of events for students, alumni and friends to participate in. Click here for a full schedule of campus events this week.

You Can't Coach That
Jordan Matthews has a knack for making spectacular catches, and has been exceptionally good at leaping up and snagging the ball at its highest point. The ability to do this allows him to catch passes before the defensive back can make a play on the ball. On Monday, Franklin was asked about Matthews' ability to make those types of plays.

"Typically that trait of going and getting the ball when it is in the air - you can work on that - but that is something you typically have or you don't," Franklin said. "He's had that. He's got great body control. He's got great ball skills and he's just really aggressive. He believes when the ball is in the air, it is his and nobody else is coming down with it."

It's a unique talent that Matthews has, and it is one that has helped him vault to near the top of a number of Vanderbilt's all-time receiving charts.

Franklin Meets Franklin, Part II
It will be a matchup of two James Franklins on Saturday when the Commodores host Missouri. There was much made of Vanderbilt's head coach and Missouri's starting quarterback sharing the same name when the two schools played last season in Columbia.

In the meeting last season, Missouri's Franklin started the game, going 5-of-9 for 56 yards passing and had one rush for 23 yards, before exiting with an injury. The Commodores prevailed 19-15 for their first SEC win of the season.

On Monday, Vanderbilt's Franklin was asked about the rematch with Missouri's Franklin and said he wished there was more to the two sharing the same name.

"I wish it was a little bit more interesting and I had something to tell you like George Foreman named all his sons George. I could say something that was a connection that way, but there is not.

Black and Gold Everything
After back-to-back non-conference games, Vanderbilt returns to league play Saturday in a pivotal matchup with Missouri.

Between Missouri fans and Vanderbilt fans, there will be a lot of black and gold in Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday. On Monday, Coach Franklin encouraged Vanderbilt fans to be loud and help create a difficult atmosphere for Missouri to play in.

"We need a home-field advantage," Franklin said. "I think that is going to be very, very important. They have an explosive offense. They run an up-tempo offense, so being able to have a home-field advantage with crowd noise and things like that to make it difficult for their offense to run, I think is going to be very important."

Stopping the Quarterback Run Game
From Corby Jones in the late 1990s to Brad Smith in the mid-2000s and James Franklin now, Missouri has a history of success with mobile quarterbacks. So far this season, running quarterbacks have given the Commodores difficulty.

Franklin has done damage with his arm and legs this season. He has thrown for 1,129 yards and rushed for 215 yards. Meanwhile, the Commodores have allowed 159 rushing yards to SEC quarterbacks this season. Saturday will be an excellent test for Vanderbilt's defense.

"That's going to be a challenge for us and that's going to be a focus for us all week long," said Franklin of the quarterback run game. "There is no doubt about it.

"We're going to have a few wrinkles that we've discussed the last couple of weeks. But we've been preparing for that the last couple of weeks because we are expecting to see it all year long. This is going to be a nice test for us."

With Missouri, the Commodores will face a spread offense, which adds to the challenge of stopping a running quarterback, especially for linebackers which are forced outside to cover tight ends and backs split wide.

"The biggest challenge may be just that they try to spread the outside linebackers out as far as they can and try to get us out the box and then they try the zone read," linebacker Darreon Herring said. "It is nothing we can't handle. We just have to keep practicing over and over."

"I believe if you practice to be great, then greatness is going to come."
- Jordan Matthews on Jonathan Krause's success



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