South Carolina has stumbled to a 2-2 start after being anointed Georgia’s biggest threat to retaining the East crown. With losses to two ranked opponents (Georgia and Kentucky), South Carolina is looking to rebound with a win against the Tigers. However, as Will Muschamp does best, a team loaded with talent continues to underwhelm and disappoint. The Gamecocks have returning junior QB Jake Bentley and feared WR Deebo Samuel. Speaking of Jake Bentley, did you hear how he graduated high school early (not a hard feat in South Carolina due to the 4th grade reading level requirements for a GED) just to play for the Gamecocks?
Despite the hype around these two offensive weapons, Will Muschamp has continued his trend of dutifully wasting offensive talent in the SEC as South Carolina has just four 30-yard plays from scrimmage, the fewest in the SEC according to Post-Dispatch writer Dave Matter. Rico Dowdle and Tyson Wlliams lead the ground game while Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith at WR both are recipients of single coverage as defenses account for Samuel. Their offense turns the ball over at a high rate, with nine giveaways in 2018.
Defensively, the Gamecocks allow a stingy 338.3 yards of total offense, which considering they have played Georgia and Kentucky is impressive. They allow only 159.5 yards through the air and 178.8 yards on the ground, showing a balanced defense without a single glaring weakness to exploit. Rashad Fenton leads the team with 3 INTs while DL Javon Kinlaw leads the team in sacks (2) and forced fumbles (2). It does not appear that South Carolina consistently gets pressure to the QB but this could be a symptom of playing two top 15 teams in the first four weeks.
Finally, we need to talk about the absurd entrance of Cocky, the South Carolina mascot. While the SEC Network and CBS get hard every time that stupid chicken attempts to bust out of his busted-ass cage while 2000 techno-hit “Sandstorm” plays, all I can think of is how insane it is that students and alumnus who once wore “My Cock is Smelley” t-shirts get pumped to what Sports Illustrated says is one of the best entrances in college football. Actually, as I read that sentence out loud, I know exactly why South Carolina fans think this is so great.
So, now that we know a little about the Gamecocks, the question is, can Mizzou win against South Carolina?
South Carolina has the hallmarks of a team that Mizzou should beat and needs to in order to gain respect nationally. Much has been written about this team’s inability to beat teams with winning records and while South Carolina is technically .500, they will finish the season bowl eligible unless something bad goes down. Drew Lock should rebound from the Georgia game and exploit the South Carolina defense, bolstered by the return of a (hopefully) healthy Hall. Without his ability to go deep, Lock was forced to throw short and intermediate passes that failed to scare Georgia. As is the trend for Mizzou the last two seasons, the key to this game will rest with which defense shows up. The defense should exploit the Gamecock affinity for the turnover and make a few big plays. The question will be whether the secondary is up to the task of stopping Deebo and Bentley in the passing game.
Going into this season I felt the Tigers would be underdogs in this game but thought they could win. Nothing so far has changed my opinion of this. Listed as 2 point dogs on the road, if the Tigers want to remain in the top 3 of the SEC and avoid a collapse heading into Alabama next week, they need to win this game. This could be the first signature win for Barry Odom and Drew Lock. After all, the calendar has changed to Lock-tober.