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Missouri Tigers 24 - South Carolina Gamecocks 10: What We Learned

Nunez struggled in his first road start, the playcalling continues to leave something to be desired, and the defense is showing improvement but it still isn't good enough.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Our South Carolina Gamecocks suffered another tough loss on Saturday to the Missouri Tigers. Despite not playing very well for most of the day, the Gamecocks remained within striking distance for most of the game. However, despite the defense hanging tough in the 2nd half in the face of three interceptions by Lorenzo Nunez, the Gamecocks couldn't get the job done and left Mizzou with a 24-10 loss.

Lorenzo Nunez gives us long-term hope, but he's still a very raw passer (due to being young) and can't do it by himself.

Lorenzo Nunez will very likely be an excellent football player one day at the University of South Carolina. But, as most expected, his youth showed yesterday while facing a very good Missouri defense. His three untimely interceptions essentially took away any legitimate hope Carolina had to win the ballgame. Even still, Nunez managed to produce 232 of our 298 total yards of offense yesterday. 102 of his 172 passing yards went to Pharoh Cooper and, despite being sacked 4 times for a loss of 28 yards, Nunez was still able to rush for a net gain of 60 yards. His talent is there. But if someone else doesn't step up to help him, hopefully Brandon Wilds will when he gets back from injury, Nunez is going to get banged up and an already long season for Carolina fans might get even longer.

Playcalling: Don't expect it to get better any time soon

I know the playcalling has been critiqued, analyzed, and argued about ad nauseam this season. But our playcalling just confuses the hell out of me sometimes. Most of what we try doesn't work anyways but, when we do find something that works, we use it for a few plays in a row and then seemingly abandon it. We had one drive where we ran the same quick screen to Cooper for 3 or 4 consecutive plays. We were in going hurry up to the line of scrimmage and had the Missouri defense on their heels. Then, all of a sudden, we abandon it and either settle for a field goal or threw an interception. There isn't much that works with this offense right now, so we shouldn't abandon the concepts that do work. But at this point in the season, if our offensive staff can't put together a gameplan that plays to the offensive strengths that this team does have, I don't see any reason why they would suddenly be capable of doing so.

The defense has improved. But the improvement is marginal and it still isn't good enough.

I have to give credit to our defense yesterday. They didn't play outstanding, but they did enough to keep us in the game late into the contest despite our QB throwing 3 straight ill-advised interceptions. On the first two drives immediately following Nunez's first two interceptions they held Missouri to 14 yards on 6 plays. I no longer think the "defense doesn't have any heart" argument is a valid one. I believe those guys on defense would do anything for their teammates. The Carolina D is becoming a brotherhood again. But the lack of execution in maintaining gap control and general lack of talent in the secondary is still troublesome. Missouri came in averaging 107 yards per game on the ground. They gained 168 against the South Carolina defense on Saturday. Our secondary had a rough day of it as well, as Drew Lock (Missouri's true freshman QB) carved our secondary up like a Thanksgiving turkey on 21/28 passing with 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. Even when the defense had a chance to make a big play, and perhaps turn the tide, they were either the victims of a bad call (the should've been safety) or they were a victim of a lack of execution (TJ Holloman's dropped pick 6). I am no longer questioning this defenses' heart. But when you are at a developed talent deficit like we are, you cannot afford to miss out on big plays and have mental assignment errors. Hopefully these guys can continue to improve and maybe give the Leonard Fournette led LSU Tigers a game next week.

Another tough week is in the books, my fellow Gamecock fans. Hang in there, hopefully brighter days are ahead. As usual, Go Cocks!