Tennessee will play their final home game of the season this week against the Missouri Tigers. Before Missouri joined the SEC in 2012 the two teams had never played. Last year Tennessee beat Missouri by a score of 19-8 at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri. The Tigers went on to finish the season 5-7. During the offseason former Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel was forced to step down due to health reasons. In his place, former Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom took over the head spot. Missouri continues to try to find an identity under the first year head coach, but the Tigers were able to break an 11-game SEC losing streak last week in their win over Vanderbilt. Missouri comes into the game with a 3-7 overall record and a 1-5 SEC record, compared to Tennessee’s 7-3 overall record, and a 3-3 record in conference play. One of Missouri’s worst losses of the season came against Middle Tennessee State. MTSU won that game by a score of 51 to 45. That game was also Missouri’s homecoming. The Tigers only win of value, as previously mentioned, came against Vanderbilt last week.
On offense for the Tigers, they are led at quarterback by Drew Lock, Lock has accumulated 2,811 yards on a 54.8% completion rate with 21 touchdowns and 8 interceptions so far this season. In the backfield for the Tigers, they have enjoyed the outstanding play of freshman Damarea Crockett, although they have also gone with experienced junior Ish Witter running the ball as well. Crockett has only 3 more carries than Witter throughout the season. Both running backs have combined for 13 trips to the end zone. Leading the way through the air is wide receiver J’Mon Moore. Moore has racked up 47 receptions for 743 yards and 8 touchdowns, all team highs. Moore also maintains a 15.8 yards per catch average, and his longest reception in 2016 was an 82-yard touchdown catch.
On defense the Big Orange fans should watch for number 91 Charles Harris, who led the team in tackles for loss with 18.5 during the 2015 season. He also leads the team in that same category with 11.0 tackles-for-loss this season as well. Linebacker Donavin Newsome has been an impact player for Missouri to say the least. Newsome leads the team in total tackles this season with 66 on the year. In the secondary Aarion Penton and John Gibson lead the way for the Tigers, they lead the team with 4 and 3 interceptions on the year, respectively.
For Tennessee, the Vols were overjoyed to see Alvin Kamara, in the backfield, and Cam Sutton, in the secondary, back on the field last Saturday and will continue to benefit from their efforts. Kamara, joined with running back John Kelly, will both look to have 100 yard rushing games once again, and make a big impact for the Vols offense. Senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs will be playing his final game in Neyland Stadium Saturday and it is sure the Vol Faithful will want to send him off with a big ovation. Also look for Dobbs to continue his outstanding play that was exhibited against Kentucky last week. On defense Derek Barnett will edge closer to the UT all-time sacks record, in what could also be his final game at Neyland Stadium as well. Barnett has accomplished in 3 years what took the great Reggie White, who holds the record, 4 years to do. Barnett has NFL-level talent, and could leave for the big leagues following the season.
Tennessee should win big in this one, in what will be the Tennessee seniors final game in Neyland Stadium, and move closer to an SEC East title. If Florida falls to LSU as well Saturday, Knoxville will be in a frenzied euphoric mood.